Session: #286

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Blades Still a Big Deal? – Laminar Technology in the Middle Palaeolithic and Middle Stone Age [PaM]
Since the eye-opening paper ‘The Big Deal about Blades: Laminar Technologies and Human Evolution’ by Bar-Yosef and Kuhn in 1999, it has become clear that considering blade technology as exclusively associated with Upper Palaeolithic industries does not reflect the archaeological reality. More recently, research has shown that laminar production appears as early as the Middle Pleistocene in Africa as well as Eurasia, and is definitely a well-integrated part of technical systems in the Middle Palaeolithic (MP) and Middle Stone Age (MSA). However, the nature, variability and mechanisms behind the emergence of early laminar technologies remain still poorly understood.
In this session, we examine the present state of our understanding of the cross-continental blade phenomenon in the MP and MSA. We aim to tackle research questions about the different contexts in which this particular technological choice occurs and under what circumstances. Does blade technology in the Near-East, Africa and Europe follow the same evolutionary pattern? Does the advent of laminar production reflect technological convergence or can common drivers explain its appearance in different areas and in different time periods? What dynamics fostered the invention, implementation and diffusion? To what extent did social factors have an impact on the variable expressions of blade reduction systems? What were the laminar end-products used for?
The aim of manufacturing elongated objects can be associated with different reasons which cannot be condensed into one single explanation. Furthermore, the adoption of a new concept, in this case the production of blades, has direct implications for the technical system and social organisation. We are convinced that a session including multiple detailed technological analyses and integrating a broad temporal and spatial set of archaeological case studies can address these questions to significantly advance our understanding of the rise and importance of blade technology in the MP and MSA.
Blades, Middle Stone Age, Middle Paleolithic
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Main organiser:
Leonardo Carmignani (Italy) 1,2
Viola Schmid (Austria) 3,2
1. Department of World Archeology, Human Origin Group, Leiden University
2. UMR 7041, Équipe AnTET, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Nanterre Cedex, France.
3. Department of Early Prehistory and Quaternary Ecology, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen