Temporalities in Stone Provisioning in the Middle Paleolithic Stone Artifact Record of the Cave of Pech de l’Azé IV in Southwest France; Insights into the Variability in Neandertal Landscape Use (Department of Anthropology)
Interpretation of variability in the Middle Paleolithic stone artifact record continues to be one of the major research questions in the Pleistocene archaeology of Europe. Current interpretations of this variability are shifting from culture-historical explanations towards ones related with Neandertal use of the landscape in economic sense: strategies of mobility and resource procurement. These interpretations nonetheless reduce this behavior to one meaning behind a particular set of techno-typological traits in the stone artifact record. Contributing to this problem is the conventional concept of this record as comprised of archaeological assemblages defined on the basis of natural interfaces and perceived as emic entities that contain functionally associated artifacts of time-averaged behavioral events. This dissertation investigates temporalities of processes related to stone provisioning by Neandertals during their use of the cave of Pech de l’Azé IV in south-west France to contribute to understanding the variability in their landscape use from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 until MIS 3 in this region. This stone artifact sequence is sampled by the same number of stone artifacts, following the general history of their accumulation. The analysis examines behavioral processes of stone movement, blank production, tool selection, and tool management, and the dynamics among these processes is used to infer the degree of variability in the use of this place and the degree of variability in the use of stone as components of variability in landscape use. The results show certain patterns in the association between different degrees of variability in landscape use and the three isotope stages and the record of particular techno-typological attributes. During MIS 5, the degree of variability in landscape use fluctuated more than during post-MIS 5 times, when the variability in this behavior was constantly higher. Low variability in landscape use left the record with higher incidences of Levallois elements, while moderate or high variability in this behavior produced the record that is technologically less uniform. Also, until MIS 3, there was a cyclical pattern in the degree of variability in landscape use. Finally, this dissertation argues for the abandonment of the concept of assemblage in stone artifact archaeology.