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J Hum Evol. 2005 May;48(5):435-72.

Late Pliocene hominid knapping skills: the case of Lokalalei 2C, West Turkana, Kenya.

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PACEA-UMR 9155 du CNRS, Bât. Géologie, Avenue des Facultés, 33405 Talence, France.


Relatively few remains of Late Pliocene hominids' knapping activities have been recovered to date, and these have seldom been studied in terms of manual dexterity and technical achievements. With regard to early hominid technological development, the evidence provided by the data from 2.34 Myr site of Lokalalei 2C (Kenya) questions both the prior assumption of a continuous and linear evolutionary trend in lithic production and the idea that it long remained static. The level of elaboration evinced by the lithic assemblage is quite unexpected in view of its age, and seemingly more advanced that what can be surmised for other Late Pliocene East-African sites, including the nearby site of Lokalalei 1. Analysis relies mainly on the dynamic reconstruction of entire cobble reduction sequences from particularly informative refitting groups. The Lokalalei 2C knappers had already internalised the notion of planning and foresight in raw material procurement and management. Beyond simple mastery of the basic technical constraints peculiar to stone knapping, they conducted a highly controlled debitage of flakes following constant technical rules and resulting in high productivity. The data suggest that early hominids displayed distinct technical competencies and techno-economic patterns of behavior, thus pointing to an intrasite complexity and intersite diversity which are not accounted for by the existing chrono-cultural classifications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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