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Gadi Herzlinger

Ph.D. thesis topic: Individual Patterns of Knapping on Experimental Handaxes
Advisor: Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar

Dissertation Title:

Biface Morpho-Technological Variability at Gesher Benot-Yaaqov and its Significance to the Cultural, Social and Cognitive Evolution of Middle-Pleistocene Hominins in the Levant

Research scopes summary

Within the framework of my PhD thesis I wish to test and analyze the morpho-technological variability in the biface tools assemblage from the Lower Paleolithic site of Gesher Bneot-Yaaqov. This site is exceptional in the Levant with respect to both the wealth and variety of finds and the cultural tradition reflected in the production of stone tools. Furthermore, the stone tool assemblage in general, and specifically the bifacial component, exhibit a unique similarity to bifacial tool assemblages form Africa. Thus, with respect to the dating of the site, it is interpreted as representing one of the earliest waves of hominin migration out of Africa.

The bifacial tool assemblage from the site has been typo-technologically analyzed using traditional attribute analysis within the framework of the forthcoming fourth volume of the excavation report. The morphological aspect of the tools has been analyzed using traditional morphological methodologies for biface shape analysis which are based on a small number of metrical indices and qualitative observations. This analysis indicated high morphological homogeneity along the occupational sequence at the site, but due to its relatively low resolution had difficulties in identifying finer morphological trends and patterns.

The renewed analysis within the framework of the current study will apply 3 dimensional digital models of the artifacts, alongside multivariate statistical methods. These provide high-resolution quantitative comparisons which allow the identification of archaeologically significant morphological trends and patterns. Furthermore, the application of computerized spatial tools will allow to correlate morphological patterns to spatial and chronological aspects at the site. Additionally, a comparison of the results to those received from the analyses of additional sites from the Levant and Africa will permit to sharpen the similarities and differences between different cultural traditions at an inter-regional scale. Finally, the integration of experimental results could allow to interpret the observed morpho-technological variability as stemming from cognitive, social and cultural aspects of Middle Pleistocene hominins.