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Durham e-Theses
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Rethinking the significance of the microlith for hunting in the terminal Pleistocene / Holocene: A comparative study

WALKER, JAMES,WILLIAM,PADDISON (2014) Rethinking the significance of the microlith for hunting in the terminal Pleistocene / Holocene: A comparative study. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Microliths are small cutting implements made from stone and found around the world in a variety of prehistoric contexts. It is assumed without question, due to their size, that these pieces were made with the intention of being hafted. Their presence in the prehistoric record is often interpreted as indicative of multi-component composite toolkit designs. While the possibility of alternative functions cannot be ruled out of consideration, they have traditionally been, and are still most commonly interpreted as having served as armatures for hunting weaponry. As a global phenomenon, the term microlith encompasses a great deal of regional variation. Traditionally, studies of microlithic assemblages have been insularly rooted within the particular research frameworks of these regions. It is only recently that the potential for comparative assessment has been highlighted as a significantly under-explored avenue for further establishing the values that made microlithic technology desirable in different times and places.

This research focusses on three study regions with strong distinct trends of microlithic technology, primarily associated with hunting weaponry: northern Spain, southern Africa and interior Alaska. Using a small sample of sites from each region, variation in microlithic assemblages was assessed over time in each area relative to contemporary trends in ungulate fauna and environmental proxies. This facilitated discussion of how microlithic based hunting practices related to particular prey or conditions, or changes in these factors. Overall, the study found that it is difficult to singularly characterise conditions associated with microlithic technology, even in individual regional analyses. This supports the notion that an important virtue of microlithic armatures is their versatility, allowing for flexible weapon designs that could accommodate variable risk related stresses.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Prehistory, Microliths, Pleistocene, Holocene, Technology, Hunting, Cantabria, Howieson's Poort, Central Alaska
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:06 May 2015 12:42

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