Bipolar and Freehand Knapping At Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania): An Experimental Replication

  • Author: Fernando Diez-Martín, Policarpo Sánchez Yustos, Manuel Domínguez-Rodrigo, Mary E. Prendergast
  • Topic: Human remains,Lithic studies
  • Country: Tanzania
  • Related Congress: 13th Congress, Dakar

Archaeological research recently conducted at a number of Bed I and
Bed II sites in Olduvai Gorge has shown that bipolar technique constituted a
major strategy, commonly implemented by hominins in their exploitation of
local Naibor Soit quartz. Due to the petrographic nature of quartz and to its
heterogeneous response to fracture, the identification of bipolar knapping at
any given site can be ambiguous and controversial. This work aims to overcome
this problem by developing an experimental referential framework for
the recognition of characteristic features of flakes produced through both
bipolar and freehand reduction of Naibor Soit quartz cores. The present work
constructs an analogical framework aimed at understanding in greater depth
the role played by the bipolar technique within the array of technological and
behavioral behaviors displayed by hominins in the Olduvai basin. This goal
entails two different but complementary parts. The first goal is to disentangle
which are the most effective and statistically confident features that can
guide lithic analysts when identifying signals of bipolar load application on
flakes produced with the Naibor Soit type of quartz. Secondly, we aim to
gather more insights into the reasons that could have encouraged hominins to
show two different technological solutions (bipolar and freehand) for their
economic treatment of tabular quartz at Olduvai Gorge.

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