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Modelling production mishaps in later Acheulian handaxes from the Area 1 excavation at Amanzi Springs (Eastern Cape, South Africa) and their effects on reduction and morphology

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posted on 2021-08-09, 23:39 authored by Matthew V Caruana, Andrew HerriesAndrew Herries
Experimental research examining Later Acheulian handaxes often equates their production with expert knapping skill. Yet knapping mishaps, including step and hinge fractures, mismanaging cross-sectional proportions and transverse breaks are common throughout manufacturing stages and may represent an important source of morphological variability. Recent investigations of handaxes from the ~400 ka Area 1 locality at Amanzi Springs have suggested that the large and asymmetric proportions of these tools may relate the abundance of step and hinge fractures and excessive thick edges that impeded reduction. This study uses both geometric and traditional morphometric techniques to explore the effects of knapping mishaps on the reduction and morphology of Amanzi Springs handaxes. Results suggest that interpretations of Acheulian technological skill can benefit from examining the occurrence of production errors, which may account for some of the morphological differences in handaxes observed on both diachronic and geographic scales.


Research at Amanzi Springs is funded by Australian Research Council Discovery Project grants (DP170101139 and DP200100194) awarded to AIRH and a National Geographic grant (GR-000046142) awarded to AIRH and MVC. The Artec Space Sider scanner was funded through AIRH’s Australian Research Council Future Fellowship grant (FT120100399).


Publication Date



Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports



Article Number



(p. 1-11)


Elsevier BV



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