Variability in Middle Stone Age core reduction in Southern Africa. Peter Hiscock

published: 22 Oct 2015  |  
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  • SESSION 3 – Stone tool production and processing techniques
    Variability in Middle Stone Age core reduction in Southern Africa

    This paper explores the diversity of different core reduction strategies employed in Middle Stone Age (MSA) sites in the Western Cape of South Africa. Our particular interest is the relationship between the different strategies and the materials on which they applied. Our study uses quantitative methods to characterise discoid, non-discoid and bipolar reduction of cores, and the timing of heat treatment and pressure flaking. We argue that MSA reduction was elaborately articulated with materials at hand, with knapping actions changing over time and space as procedures were expressed or repressed depending on context. This image indicates that simple normative images of knapping are unlikely to capture the variety of MSA practices or the breadth of knappers’ skills and learning represented in those assemblages.

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