We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

Imperceptible Individuals: issues in the applications of social theory to Lower Palaeolithic material culture

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 .

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Lower Palaeolithic; hominins; social theory; lithics; individual; Acheulean; archaeology;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Archaeology, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Jan 2013 10:40

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter