Dr Frederick Foulds, PhD, AFHEA
(email at email@example.com)
Imperceptible Individuals: issues in the application of social theory to Palaeolithic contexts.
My thesis aims to explore whether idiosyncrasies in Acheulean handaxe manufacture can be seen and, if so, whether these can be used to trace the actions of hominins within the Lower Palaeolithic. This analysis has important implications for the application of current social theory to Palaeolithic contexts, which advocates a 'bottom-up' approach to archaeological study. This socially orientated theoretical approach emphasises the individual as the primary unit of analysis. However, as Hopkinson and White (2005) state, there is currently no methodology for such an analysis, rendering many discussions as exercises in what has been termed 'theoretical storytelling'.
Using a series of innovative experiments, the question of whether the individual is a viable unit of analysis is tested. The results show that a suite of other factors that also contribute to stone tool manufacture currently masks the actions of individuals. Chief amongst these is the variability in the raw material nodules selected for reduction. However, intra-site variability may indicate differences that are linked to socially mediated knapping strategies, or 'group templates' (c.f. Ashton and McNabb 1994). While this possibility requires further exploration, this thesis suggests that the individual is currently not viable as a primary unit of analysis within Palaeolithic archaeology and stresses that the theories posited from the standpoint of the individual cannot be interpreted as fact. At the same time, it appears that further work needs to be conducted that focuses on the more traditional group as the primary analytical unit and the prospect of teasing apart the interplay between individuals, groups and the effects of raw material variability.
Department of Archaeology
- Archaeological Method and Theory
- Lithic analysis
- Lower Palaeolithic Archaeology in Britain and Europe
- The Middle to Upper Palaeolithic Transition in Europe
- F.W.F. Foulds (2013). Experimental Archaeology and Theory: Recent Approches to Archaeological Hypotheses. Oxbow Books.
- F.W.F. Foulds (2013). The Enigmatic Handaxe: In Search of Idiosyncrasies in Bifacial Technology through Three-Dimensional Form. In Experimental Archaeology and Theory: Recent Approches to Archaeological Hypotheses. F.W.F.Foulds Oxbow Books.
Journal papers: academic
- Foulds, F.W.F. (2010). Investigating the Individual? An Experimental Approach through Lithic Refitting. Lithics: The Journal of the Lithic Studies Society 31: 6 - 19.