Microlith production is a distinctive and significant stone tool technology. However, inter-regional comparative analyses of microlithic industries are rare, and tend to homogenise these industries by focussing analytical attention on retouched tool typologies alone. This volume provides the first demonstration and exploration of variability in two of the earliest microlithic industries in the world: the Howiesons Poort of southern Africa and the Late Palaeolithic of South Asia. Statistical analyses of the results of detailed attribute analyses reveal previously undocumented variability within and between sites, and over time, demonstrating that microlith production is not a homogenous technology. The results also provide evidence of the independent innovation of microlithic technology in the different regions. The implications of this variability for the long-standing debates concerning modern human behaviour and dispersals are explored. It is this behavioural and technological variability that is key to understanding our species.
Laura Lewis studied Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge before moving to the University of Oxford for her Master’s and DPhil in Archaeology. She now lives in London, where she joined the Civil Service as a statistician and policy adviser.
‘Clearly explained and well structured, Lewis’ work is as much a study in how to record lithic data as it is a thesis on technological variability…Her work refocuses attention on behavioural variability, technological process and comparative research. In doing so, Lewis’ brings archaeologists closer to unravelling lithic miniaturisation’s true behavioural and evolutionary significance.’ Justin Pargeter, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, Vol 52, No. 4, 2017