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Durham e-Theses
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The earlier Palaeolithic of Syria: settlement history, technology and landscape-use in the Orontes and Euphrates Valleys

Shaw, Andrew Douglas (2008) The earlier Palaeolithic of Syria: settlement history, technology and landscape-use in the Orontes and Euphrates Valleys. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis represents the first investigation to examine Lower and Middle Palaeolithic technological behaviour in Syria in its wider landscape context, focussing on material from the two main river valleys; the Orontes and the Euphrates. Recent geological work has begun to develop an increasingly secure dating scheme for the terraces of these rivers, and hence for the artefacts obtained from them. Key artefact collections which can be located within these emergent chronostratigraphic frameworks were delimited. These assemblages have been analysed using a dynamic and flexible methodology which enabled the specific factors which affect artefact variability (in terms of local material affordances and human choice) to be assessed. Lithic artefacts are treated as the residues of hominin action, and not, as has frequently been the case, the static markers of chrono-cultural evolution. This research has demonstrated that Lower and Middle Palaeolithic hominins responded knowledgably and flexibly to the specific material constraints of particular places at particular points in time. Moreover, it emphasises that understanding particular assemblages entails relocating this material within its landscape context - effectively, looking from lithic artefacts and scatters to reconstructing early human lifeways. Significant outcomes of this research include the identification of the earliest evidence for a hominin presence in Syria (~1 mya), the technological repertoires associated with these populations, the nature of, and the factors responsible for. Lower and Middle Palaeolithic technological variability, and the behaviours associated with Lower and Middle Palaeolithic hominins. The results of the research have wide-ranging and profound implications for understanding the earlier Palaeolithic record of Syria and the wider Near East. In particular, it demonstrates that many fundamental assumptions regarding the nature and meaning of technological and behavioural variability in the Near East require re-assessing.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:28

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