PhD Dissertations: Dennis M. Sandgathe, 2005

An Analysis of the Levallois Reduction Strategy Using a Design Theory Framework

The Levallois reduction strategy was selected from among a number of different lithic strategies available in the Middle Palaeolithic and was employed over a wide geographic area of the Old World for well over 200,000 years. This research attempts to examine the potential advantages of this reduction strategy that led to this long history of use. This requires the development of a model of Middle Palaeolithic lifeways from which can be identified those factors that would have influenced and constrained the design of Middle Palaeolithic stone technology and tool kits. From an understanding of these constraints on stone tool production and use several hypotheses are developed which would explain the advantages that Levallois reduction would present and under what conditions we would expect it to be employed. These hypotheses are then tested through the analysis of both the morphology of the products of different reduction strategies and of tool blank selection patterns at four Middle Palaeolithic sites in SW and SE France. This analysis indicates that Levallois reduction would present notable advantages under conditions of restricted access to raw material, which may be due to circumstances of increased group mobility or distance from raw material sources. It is also apparent that classic Levallois reduction cannot be defined in isolation from other single-surface core strategies, and that much of the advantage of classic Levallois reduction is inherent in all such strategies.