Assemblages with bifacial tools in Eurasia (third part). Considerations on the bifacial phenomenon throughout Eurasia

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Abstract

Eurasian bifacial series present some common features, but are chiefly characterized by wide-ranging diversity in terms of bifacial technology and blank types, whereas the heavy-duty component presents a limited number of types or categories. Heavy-duty tools are present throughout the geographical areas but the frequency of handaxes and/or cleavers is generally low, except in some regions, where they are made on flakes and/or cobbles/pebbles, on siliceous stones or other rock types. So far, it appears to be generally accepted that bifacial technology became widespread from 800 to 700 ka onwards, both for Europe and Asia, except for some earlier occurrences in the Levant and India. It would thus be reasonable to infer that bifacial technology first reached the Levant from Africa before moving toward Asia, then Europe. However, the existing data point to a much more complex reality, suggesting contemporaneous technological worlds, with or without links between them. In the state of current knowledge, and based on the methodology used for analysing lithic series, it is impossible to clearly argue in favour of either a unique phenomenon with movements of hominins or/and ideas from an African source, or to point to evidence of several onsets of bifacial technology over time on a local substratum. The palaeoanthropological background shows the difficulties involved in characterizing the few available hominin fossils and clearly relating them to bifacial technology. The current context suggests that each area should be analysed independently. Accumulative technological processes in some areas due to successive arrivals and the influence of the local substratum, and local onsets must be considered, as these contribute to the diversity of the strategies encountered and the varied forms of bifacial technology.

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Moncel, M. H., Arzarello, M., Boëda, É., Bonilauri, S., Chevrier, B., Gaillard, C., … Zeitoun, V. (2018). Assemblages with bifacial tools in Eurasia (third part). Considerations on the bifacial phenomenon throughout Eurasia. Comptes Rendus - Palevol, 17(1–2), 77–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.crpv.2015.11.007

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