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The Acheulean is a temporally cohesive tradition

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The Acheulean has long been considered a single, unified tradition. Decades of morphometric and technological evidence supports such an understanding by demonstrating that a single fundamental Bauplan was followed for more than 1.6 million years. What remains unknown is whether sites assigned to the Acheulean represent multiple socially-independent iterations of the same technological solution to shared ecological (functional) and ergonomic demands. Here, using the ‘surprise test’, the temporal cohesion of the Acheulean record is statistically assessed for the first time. Chronological data from 81 early and late Acheulean sites are investigated to see if breaks in this record warrant the designation of separate, culturally distinct groupings of sites. No significant results were returned, suggesting the Acheulean to be temporally cohesive and there to be no evidence of cultural convergence from a temporal perspective. When combined with previous morphometric, technological and spatial evidence, the best-fit scenario for the Acheulean continues to be that it represents a single, but variable, tradition.



Early Stone Age, Lower Palaeolithic, chronological exceptionality, Gumbel domain of attraction, cultural convergence, convergent evolution

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World Archaeology

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Informa UK Limited