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2019-03-13 11:06:11   •   ID: 2083

Skills in Small Flake Production occured early during Human Evolution

Figure 1
Figure 2

Small flakes and small flake-tools were often overseen in the Archaeological record. Alfred Rust was one of the first researchers, who described the phenomenon for certain Levallois-Mousterian strata at Jabrud in Syria- see: 1283

Another example is the Anisipodian of F. Bordes in the Aquitaine /S-W-France. Principally such early microlithism could be the consequence of raw-material, specific site- or tool-use or an indication for systematic recycling.

Microtraceology shows that such small flakes were used in butchering and woodwork activities.

And skilled small flake production occurred very early: Figure 1 and 2 show an obsidian flake (2,5 x 2 x 0,3 cm) with centripetal negative scars on the dorsal face, found more than 40 yrs ago at Melka Kunture in Ethiopia.

About Melka Kunture--see here: 1509 , here: 1233 , here: 1663 and here 1192

Recently, Galotti and Mussi described similar pieces from a late Oldowan~1.7-Ma BP from the Garba IVE-F site at Melka Kunture.

At Garba IV, small flakes were produced from unifacial unidirectional cores; centripetal/tangential cores and multifacial multidirectional obsidian cores.

The flake shown in this post with its centripetal negative scars was certainly detached from a centripetal non-Levallois core and may belong to an ESA context.

Anyhow, an Oldowan context can not proven for our exemple, found on surface- but note that similar flakes, but with Levallois characteristics, are known from the nearby Garba III MSA site dating to ca 100-150 k.a. BP.

During the late Oldowan at Garba IV flakes were transformed into notches (single, multiple and on two convergent edges); transversal, lateral and convergent side-scrapers and backed pieces.

This astonishing variability in lithic production is challenging the common view of a conservative and static Oldowan in East Africa.

Agam et al. reported another small flake based system from the Late Acheulian at Revadim, Israel. Revadim is an open-air site located on the southern Coastal Plain of Israel, 40 km southeast of Tel Aviv.

The assemblages, found here, are typical for the Late Levantine Acheulian, including handaxes, but in this case are dominated by flake production and flake tools.

At Revadim discarded flakes were recycled as cores for the systematic production of small sharp flake tools, called by the authors: cores-on-flakes/ flaked flakes (COF-FF).

The Authors stated: It is our opinion that lithic recycling was a basic and common practice at Revadim and that it should be regarded as an integral component of Acheulian lithic technology at large.

Furthermore, the appearance of lithic recycling in both Late Acheulian and Acheulo-Yabrudian assemblages, as is clearly demonstrated by assemblages recovered at both Revadim and Qesem Cave , suggests that lithic recycling was a fundamental and common Lower Paleolithic technology serving specific activities in the Levant and beyond

A review about small lithic production was recently published by Pargeter and Shea (see last external link).

The authors convincingly argue that miniaturisation is a typical human trait - not seen in apes- and supported critical adaptations several times during human evolution.