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Title: Imperceptible individuals : issues in the applications of social theory to Lower Palaeolithic material culture
Author: Foulds, Frederick William Francis
ISNI:       0000 0004 2727 9654
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis aims to explore whether idiosyncrasies in Acheulean handaxe manufacture can be seen and, if so, whether these can be used to trace the actions of hominins within the Lower Palaeolithic. This analysis has important implications for the application of current social theory to Palaeolithic contexts, which advocates a 'bottom-up' approach to archaeological study. This socially orientated theoretical approach emphasises the individual as the primary unit of analysis. However, as Hopkinson and White (2005) state, there is currently no methodology for such an analysis, rendering many discussions as exercises in what has been termed 'theoretical storytelling'. Using a series of innovative experiments, the question of whether the individual is a viable unit of analysis was tested. The results show that a suite of other factors that also contribute to stone tool manufacture currently masks the actions of individuals. Chief amongst these is variability in the raw material nodules selected for reduction. However, intra-site variability may indicate differences that are linked to socially mediated knapping strategies, or 'group templates' (c.f. Ashton & McNabb 1994). While this possibility requires further exploration, the thesis suggests that the individual is currently not viable as a primary unit of analysis within Palaeolithic archaeology and stresses that the theories posited from the standpoint of the individual cannot be interpreted as fact. At the same time, it appears that further work needs to be conducted that focuses on the more traditional group as the primary analytical unit and the prospect of teasing apart the interplay between the individuals, groups and the effects of raw material variability.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available