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The Acheulian and Early Middle Paleolithic in Latium (Italy) : stability and innovation

Abstract : We present here the results of a technological and typological analysis of the Acheulian and early Middle Paleolithic assemblages from Torre in Pietra (Latium, Italy) together with comparisons with the Acheulian small tools of Castel di Guido. The assemblages were never chronometrically dated before. We have now 40 Ar/ 39 Ar dates and ESR-U-series dates, within a geomorphological framework, which support correlations to marine isotope stages. The Acheulian (previously correlated to MIS 9) is now dated to MIS 10 while the Middle Paleolithic is dated to MIS 7. Lithic analyses are preceded by taphonomic evaluations. The Levallois method of the Middle Paleolithic assemblage is an innovation characterized by the production of thin flake blanks without cortex. In contrast, the small tool blanks of the Acheu-lian were either pebbles or thick flakes with some cortex. They provided a relatively easy manual prehension. The choice of Levallois thin flake blanks in the Middle Paleolithic assemblage suggest that the new technology is most likely related to the emergence of haft-ing. Accordingly, the oldest direct evidence of hafting technology is from the site of Campi-tello Quarry in Tuscany (Central Italy) where birch-bark tar, found on the proximal part of two flint flakes, is dated to the end of MIS 7. Nevertheless, a peculiar feature of the Middle Paleolithic at Torre in Pietra is the continuous presence of small tool blanks on pebbles and cores and on thick flake albeit at a much lower frequency than in the older Acheulian industries. The adoption of the new technology is thus characterized by innovation combined with a degree of stability. The persistence of these habits in spite of the introduction of an innovative technique underlies the importance of cultural transmission and conformity in the behavior of Neandertals.
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Paola Villa, Sylvain Soriano, Rainer Grün, Fabrizio Marra, Sébastien Nomade, et al.. The Acheulian and Early Middle Paleolithic in Latium (Italy) : stability and innovation. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2016, 11 (8), pp.e0160516. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0160516⟩. ⟨hal-01842542⟩

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