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Early Levallois technology and the Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition in the Southern Caucasus

Science  26 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6204, pp. 1609-1613
DOI: 10.1126/science.1256484

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An early assemblage of obsidian artifacts

Levallois technology is the name for the stone knapping technique used to create tools thousands of years ago. The technique appeared in the archeological record across Eurasia 200 to 300 thousand years ago (ka) and appeared earlier in Africa. Adler et al. challenge the hypothesis that the technique's appearance in Eurasia was the result of the expansion of hominins from Africa. Levallois obsidian artifacts in the southern Caucasus, dated at 335 to 325 ka, are the oldest in Eurasia. This suggests that Levallois technology may have evolved independently in different hominin populations. Stone technology cannot thus be used as a reliable indicator of Paleolithic human population change and expansion.

Science, this issue p. 1609

Abstract

The Lower to Middle Paleolithic transition (~400,000 to 200,000 years ago) is marked by technical, behavioral, and anatomical changes among hominin populations throughout Africa and Eurasia. The replacement of bifacial stone tools, such as handaxes, by tools made on flakes detached from Levallois cores documents the most important conceptual shift in stone tool production strategies since the advent of bifacial technology more than one million years earlier and has been argued to result from the expansion of archaic Homo sapiens out of Africa. Our data from Nor Geghi 1, Armenia, record the earliest synchronic use of bifacial and Levallois technology outside Africa and are consistent with the hypothesis that this transition occurred independently within geographically dispersed, technologically precocious hominin populations with a shared technological ancestry.

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