FOULDS, FREDERICK,WILLIAM,FRANCIS (2012) Imperceptible Individuals: issues in the applications of social theory to Lower Palaeolithic material culture. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.
|PDF (Foulds PhD Thesis Volume Two) - Accepted Version
|PDF (Foulds PhD Thesis Volume One) - Accepted Version
This thesis aims to explore whether idiosyncrasies in Acheulean handaxe manufacture can be seen and, if so, whether these can be used to trace the actions of hominins within the Lower Palaeolithic. This analysis has important implications for the application of current social theory to Palaeolithic contexts, which advocates a 'bottom-up' approach to archaeological study. This socially orientated theoretical approach emphasises the individual as the primary unit of analysis. However, as Hopkinson and White (2005) state, there is currently no methodology for such an analysis, rendering many discussions as exercises in what has been termed 'theoretical storytelling'.
Using a series of innovative experiments, the question of whether the individual is a viable unit of analysis was tested. The results show that a suite of other factors that also contribute to stone tool manufacture currently masks the actions of individuals. Chief amongst these is variability in the raw material nodules selected for reduction. However, intra-site variability may indicate differences that are linked to socially mediated knapping strategies, or 'group templates' (c.f. Ashton & McNabb 1994). While this possibility requires further exploration, the thesis suggests that the individual is currently not viable as a primary unit of analysis within Palaeolithic archaeology and stresses that the theories posited from the standpoint of the individual cannot be interpreted as fact. At the same time, it appears that further work needs to be conducted that focuses on the more traditional group as the primary analytical unit and the prospect of teasing apart the interplay between the individuals, groups and the effects of raw material variability .
|Doctor of Philosophy
|Lower Palaeolithic; hominins; social theory; lithics; individual; Acheulean; archaeology;
|Faculty and Department:
|Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
|Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
|07 Jan 2013 10:40