Handaxes and cleavers are among the most iconic stone tool types of the Acheulian Technocomplex. As they share several morphological and technological traits, they are considered to belong to the wider category of ``bifaces'' or ``large cutting tools.'' Concurrently, each of these types presents substantial morphological and technological variability across time and space. Thus, the criteria on which their typological classification is based are relatively vague, varying among different research approaches and schools. Furthermore, the factors governing the variability within and between these types remain controversial, resulting in several competing and non-comprehensive hypotheses. In this study, we apply a combination of 3D geometric morphometric shape analysis with standard typo-technological attribute analysis to a large sample of handaxes and cleavers from the Acheulian site of Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel. The results indicate that in each of these types, priority was given to different morphological traits. In light of common hypotheses explaining variability in Acheulian bifacial tool assemblages, it appears that while in cleavers these traits are mainly related to functional-utilitarian aspects, in handaxes, they may be related to social aspects as well.
- 3D geometric morphometrics
- Gesher Benot Ya'aqov