Are Lithics and Fauna a Match Made in (Prehistoric) Heaven?

Erella Hovers, Anna Belfer-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lithic artifacts and animal bones form the bulk of the material remains of the Paleolithic. This has led archeologists to interpret these two types of finds as tethered components of subsistence systems. Differences observed through time and space in the lithic repertoire were considered as functional adjustments, designed to maximize gains from a diverse faunal resource base. While we do not challenge the general notion that lithic artifacts were used (also) for exploiting faunal (and other) resources, we note that significant lithic technological breakthroughs, clearly directed towards higher efficiency of procurement of faunal resources (e.g., hafting, projectile weapons), are few and far-apart in the evolution of material culture. Based on case studies from the Levantine Middle Paleolithic (MP), we question the degree to which fauna-based subsistence determined lithic variability. Current research focus on functional relationship between lithics and fauna may preclude consideration of other causes for lithic typo-technological diversity. These may include technological traditions, differences in cultural transmission processes, or the level of within- and between-group connectivity, various combinations of which may have operated in the MP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-125
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Lithic diversity
  • Faunal resources
  • Functional paradigm


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