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Durham University

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Publication details

Foulds, F.W.F. (2014). Invisible Individuals, Visible Groups: On the evidence for individuals and groups at the Lower Palaeolithic site of Caddington, Bedfordshire, UK. In Wild Things: Recent advances in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic research. Foulds, F.W.F., Drinkall, H.C., Perri, A.R., Clinnick, D.T.G. & Walker, J.W.P. Oxford: Oxbow Books. 12-40.

Author(s) from Durham


An emphasis on socially orientated approaches to studying the Palaeolithic has become commonplace. As a result, a “bottom up” approach to interpreting the material record has developed, which emphasises the individual as the appropriate analytical unit. However, this often reduces discussion to “theoretical storytelling”, and there is currently no suitable methodology in place to enable the hypotheses brought about by such discourse to be adequately tested. This paper presents research designed to investigate whether the individual is truly a viable unit of analysis within the Lower Palaeolithic. Using an innovative form of analysis centred around the study of flake scar patterning on Acheulean handaxes, the possibilities of tracing individual knappers through Lower Palaeolithic tools from the site of Caddington, Bedfordshire, are explored. The results indicate that a suite of factors collaborate to continually redefine lithic reduction, resulting in any idiosyncrasies present being subsumed within a flexible approach to stone tool manufacture. However, the possibilities of variable group traditions are detected. The implications of this bring into question our ability to produce meaningful dialogues regarding the study of individuals and emphasises that we still do not fully understand how the group influenced Palaeolithic society.