The Acheulean massive scrapers of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov-a product of the biface chaîne opératoire

N. Goren-Inbar, G. Sharon, N. Alperson-Afil, I. Laschiver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

The presence of large scrapers has been reported from Acheulean sites worldwide but they are rarely described in detail. At Gesher Benot Ya'aqov (GBY), a similar group of artifacts, named here "massive scrapers," was identified as a significant component of the lithic assemblage. In this paper, we define and describe this Acheulean tool type and discuss its size, morphology, and technology. We demonstrate that at GBY these tools were shaped on flakes that were side-products of the reduction sequence to produce bifaces (handaxes and cleavers). We hypothesize that these blanks were rejected as potential bifaces during the knapping sequence but considered suitable for the retouching of massive scrapers, and were set aside for future work. We support our view with data from archaeological finds younger than those of GBY, as well as with evidence from controlled experimental knapping and ethnoarchaeological observations. We then discuss the contribution of this elaborate knapping strategy to our understanding of Lower Paleolithic hominin behavior, particularly in the domains of multifaceted planning and foresight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-712
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Volume55
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was carried out through the support of an ongoing grant awarded by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 300/06) to the Center of Excellence Project Title: “The Effect of Climate Change on the Environment and Hominins of the Upper Jordan Valley between ca. 800Ka and 700Ka ago as a Basis for Prediction of Future Scenarios.” The Hebrew University, the LSB Leakey Foundation, and the National Geographic Society supported the fieldwork. The Israel Science Foundation, the LSB Leakey Foundation, and the Hebrew University supported laboratory analysis. G. Laron took the photographs in Figs. 3–7 . The authors are extremely grateful to E. Hovers and R. Barkai for their constructive editorial comments and to B. Madsen for producing the experimental assemblage. S. Gorodetsky edited the manuscript with her usual professionalism and N. Lichtinger contributed to the quality of the digitized illustrations.

Funding

This study was carried out through the support of an ongoing grant awarded by the Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 300/06) to the Center of Excellence Project Title: “The Effect of Climate Change on the Environment and Hominins of the Upper Jordan Valley between ca. 800Ka and 700Ka ago as a Basis for Prediction of Future Scenarios.” The Hebrew University, the LSB Leakey Foundation, and the National Geographic Society supported the fieldwork. The Israel Science Foundation, the LSB Leakey Foundation, and the Hebrew University supported laboratory analysis. G. Laron took the photographs in Figs. 3–7 . The authors are extremely grateful to E. Hovers and R. Barkai for their constructive editorial comments and to B. Madsen for producing the experimental assemblage. S. Gorodetsky edited the manuscript with her usual professionalism and N. Lichtinger contributed to the quality of the digitized illustrations.

FundersFunder number
Leakey Foundation
National Geographic Society
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Israel Science Foundation300/06

    Keywords

    • Acheulean lithic technology
    • Behavior
    • Foresight
    • Gesher Benot Ya'aqov
    • Knapping
    • Massive scrapers

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