“CHIPS OFF THE OLD BLOCK”
PREPARED CORE TECHNOLOGIES
300,000 years ago
|Levallois ‘tortoise core’ (bottom) and Levallois flake made by archaeologist Nicholas Toth. The raw material is flint.
Credit: Photo by Kathy Schick, courtesy of the Stone Age Institute. All rights reserved.
During the time period of later handaxe industries, around 300,000 years ago, hominin populations (Homo heidelbergensis) began to strike off special types of flakes from carefully-prepared cores. This ability to predict the outcome from one blow to a core indicates better conceptual abilities and a better control of flaking stone as well.
One method is called the Levallois technique (named after a suburb of Paris where it was first described). In the Levallois “tortoise-core technique a large flake is struck from much of one face of a discoidal core. This is usually accomplished by careful preparation or “faceting” of the striking platform of the core by removing tiny flakes to make the platform steeper and convex and regular in shape.
Another technique restricted to a region of North Africa was called the Talbablalat-Tachenghit technique, which is an ingenious method of striking off a large, cleaver-like flake from a core. Yet another method from Africa is known as the the Kombewa technique, where a large flake is removed from the ventral surface of an even larger flake, producing a flake with two bulbs of percussion.
HOW DO WE KNOW?
We find the cores, the flakes (sometimes fitting onto the original cores), and the other flaking debris from these sophisticated technological strategies. These earliest sites, associated with Homo heidelbergensis, date to between 300,000 to 200, 000 years ago, and continues with the emergence of the Neandertals and early modern humans.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
The success of modern humans is due, to a great extent, in our ability to make accurate predictions. These prepared core technologies are one indication of a much better ability of these early hominins to predict outcomes, in this case the size and shape of a flake being struck from a core.
This website illustrates a variety of points, blades and flakes.
This is a Wikipedia website about the “History of prepared-core processing.”
This site details the process of prepared core technologies.
This is an article that attempts explain the wide spread distribution of the prepared-core technology.