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Seasonality and Lithic Investment in the Oldowan

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Clark, James 
Linares-Matás, Gonzalo J 


Seasonality is a critical driver of resource availability within individual generations, and is therefore likely to have exerted selective pressures on hominin evolution. Nonetheless, it has frequently been overlooked in discussions of early technological variability. This paper examines the relationship between seasonality and lithic investment in the Oldowan of eastern Africa, to broaden our understanding of hominin behavioural adaptability. We develop a framework for the identification of seasonal signatures in the archaeological record, and examine the nature of lithic variability across 12 Early Pleistocene localities. In combining these insights, we suggest that seasonality played a pivotal role in shaping the pattern of lithic investment in the Oldowan, with peak investment related to greater wet season processing of plant resources and mobility across the landscape. The productivity of cores, retouching of flakes, and use of percussive implements may each play a role in this seasonal patterning of tool use. Our analysis provides further evidence that Oldowan hominins were able to adapt their technological behaviours to changing environmental conditions, even at the scale of intra-seasonal fluctuations in resource availability, and how this interacts with landscape familiarity over longer timescales.



4301 Archaeology, 43 History, Heritage and Archaeology

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Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology

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AHRC (2439758)
GJLM: Junior Research Fellowship, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, St. Andrew's Street, Cambridge, CB2 3AP