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by Archaeology Newsroom

Material economy in the Middle Paleolithic Period

The interest of an excavation on a Paleolithic site until recent years lay exclusively in the study of stratigraphy, paleontological remnants and the typology of tools. It is quite indicative that tools which did not appeal to the aesthetic standards of the excavator or retouched remainings were not even collected. This was because tradition had assigned the Paleolithic period to the science of geology, since geology had studied it first. Therefore, this period was in a way examined as a mere phase of the geological evolution; consequently, the focus of interest was placed on stratigraphy as well as on the successive development of fauna and of lithic industry.

Recently, however, under the influence of New Archaeology and the decisive role of A. Leroi – Gourhan’s work the life and activities of prehistoric man in combination with his evolutionary stage and natural environment have become the main objective of research. Thus, the Paleolithic period has today become a subject of interdisciplinary studies, while the primary concern during the excavation of a site as well as during the study of finds is that all information relevant to the aforementioned phases be collected and documented.

Within this context the study of raw material economy, technique and typology of stone implements produces very useful data on prehistoric man; furthermore, it informs us how prehistoric man handled time and time again the problem of his dependence on the areas which could supply him with the raw material for necessary implements. Fundamental prerequisites for such a study is the careful and meticulous collection of all implements found in an excavation; also, the considerable size of the excavated area so that il can be representative of the entire prehistoric location. Unfortunately, the earlier excavations have not been carried out according to these standards and thus such a thorough study of their finds would be impossible. Consequently, a vast number of finds will remain insufficiently researched and more or less scientifically invalid.