Examining the Presence of Symmetry within Acheulean Handaxes: A Case Study in the British Palaeolithic

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This paper examines the relationship between the presence of symmetry and the Acheulean biface within a predominantly British Lower Palaeolithic context. There has been a longstanding notion within Palaeolithic studies that Acheulean handaxes are predominantly symmetrical and become increasingly so as time progress as a reflection of increasing hominin cognitive and behavioural complexity. Specifically, the presence of symmetry within Acheulean handaxes is often seen as one of the first examples of material culture being used to mediate social relationships. However, this notion has never been satisfactorily tested against a large data set. This paper seeks to address the issue by conducting an analysis of some 2680 bifaces across a chronological and geographical span. The results from the sample presented here are that symmetrical bifaces do not appear to have a particularly strong presence in any assemblage and do not appear to increase as time progress. These results have significant implications for modern researchers assessing the cognitive and behavioural complexities of Acheulean hominins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-732
Number of pages20
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Cambridge University Press


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