Reduction in the Acheulean: Identification of a relative reduction equation and application to the Boxgrove assemblage Open Access

Muschinski, Jana Maria (2015)

Permanent URL:


One of the most common sources of information regarding early hominid behavior is stone tool debitage. Flakes are made during the creation of a stone tool, and if these flakes are viewed chronologically, they can be represented as a reduction sequence. Being able to identify what portion of the reduction sequence is present at an archaeological site would provide valuable information about resource transportation and management. Several studies have attempted to create a percent completion model for bifacial lithic tool creation based on flake attributes (Bradbury & Carr, 1999; Ingbar et al., 1989; Shott, 1996). This study creates a completion proportion equation for refined Acheulean handaxe debitage assemblages of flint using multiple linear regression. The identified model has an adjusted R-squared value of 0.434 and achieves a slope of 1 when the predicted values are plotted against the actual reduction proportion values for each flake. This model was applied to data from the middle Pleistocene Acheulean site of Boxgrove. According to the model, the assemblage consists of primarily early reduction flakes, contrary to past interpretations (Roberts & Parfitt, 1999). However, this application is problematic because the created model does not fully control for size, which differs between assemblages. Future research on both the model and its application to Boxgrove and other sites will be crucial. Ideally, the sample size used to create the models could be increased through further experimental replications and the model could be tested upon a further experimental assemblage. The overall effects of using a size dependent variable within the reduction equation also need to be investigated further. On the broadest scale, such reduction models could ideally be created for a variety of materials and technologies, enabling application to a wide range of archaeological sites.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Biface Reduction Sequence Studies 9

Stage Model 10

Continuum Model 12

Existing and Potential Limitations of Reduction Studies 16

Identifying the Gap 23

Materials and Methods 25

Debitage Measurement 27

Statistics 30

Results 35

Assessing the Value of the Model 37

Application 42

Discussion 44

Comparison to Past Studies 48

Boxgrove Application 50

Future Directions 55

Conclusion 57

Appendix A 58

Appendix B 67

Works Cited 73

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files