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Seasonality and Lithic Investment in the Oldowan

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pSeasonality 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.</jats:p>


Acknowledgements: The research of J.C. was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/R012709/1) through a St. John’s College Match-funded Studentship for his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge (UK). The work of GLM was supported by a Research Fellowship at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, as well as an Arts and Humanities Research Council (grant number AH/R012709/1) Baillie Gifford AHRC Scholarship (OOC-DTP program) for his Ph.D. in Archaeology at St. Hugh’s College, University of Oxford (UK). We thank the Editor, Dr. Jessica Thompson, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions which improved the final manuscript.


Oldowan, Behavioural variability, Seasonality, Lithic investment, Palaeolithic archaeology

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Journal of Paleolithic Archaeology

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/R012709/1, AH/R012709/1)
Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge (Research Fellowship)