A methodology for identifying prehistoric local learning communities is proposed. We wish to test possible relationships among communities based on continuity and variability in lithic reduction sequence technological traits with different visibility and malleability. Quantitative features reflecting different technological traits are measured on 3-D models of flint cores in different scales: the ratio between core thickness and reduction surface width, the angle between subsequent bands of production blank scars to the relative striking platform, and the average curvature of the ridge between each blank scar striking platform pair. Continuity and variability in these features are used to establish the relations among lithic assemblages on different hierarchical levels: local learning communities and geographically widespread cultural lineages. The Late Upper Palaeolithic and the Epipalaeolithic of the Southern Levant (ca. 27,000-15,000 cal BP) provide an opportunity to test our method. A progressive increase in territoriality is hypothesized throughout this timespan, yet the precise timing and modes of this phenomenon need to be defined. The present study analyzes six core assemblages attributed to different cultural entities, representing chronologically separated occupations of the Ein Gev area and the coastal Sharon Plain. Continuity in technological traits between the Atlitian (ca. 27,000-26,000 cal BP) and Nizzanan (ca. 20,000-18,500 cal BP) occupations of the Ein Gev area suggests that the same learning community repeatedly settled there during a long time span. Two geographically separate learning communities were defined in the study areas within the Kebaran cultural entity (ca. 24,000-18,000 cal BP); the group occupying the Ein Gev area possibly continued to settle there during the Geometric Kebaran (ca. 18,000-15,000 cal BP). Continuity in more conservative traits of the reduction sequence allows to tie these two communities to the same cultural lineage. The ability to track prehistoric learning communities based on quantitative features helps increase the objectivity and the resolution in the reconstruction of past cultural dynamics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Personal thanks go to Prof. Avi Gopher, for kindly allowing us to include in the present analysis of the cores from NH V and for his valuable comments that helped improve this paper. The authors are grateful to Prof. Gonen Sharon and Dr. Davide Visentin, for sharing their valuable insights on knapping and abrasion technique, to Antoine Muller, for providing useful editing remarks on the original draft, and to the whole staff of the Computational Archaeology Laboratory, for scanning and processing the lithic artifacts. The map in figure 1 was created using the Free and Open Source QGIS; the 3D representations in figures 3–6 and the graphs in figures 7–10 were created with Matlab®. The present work was made possible thanks to the financial support of the ISF (1415/14 and 2034/19 to LG and 918/17 to Gonen Sharon).
© 2021 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
- 3-D models
- Lithic technology
- Quantitative features
- Southern levant
- Upper palaeolithic