Why are some handaxes symmetrical? Testing the influence of handaxe morphology on butchery effectiveness
Machin, A. J., Hosfield, R. T. and Mithen, S. J. (2007) Why are some handaxes symmetrical? Testing the influence of handaxe morphology on butchery effectiveness. Journal of Archaeological Science, 34 (6). pp. 883-893. ISSN 0305-4403
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2006.09.008
The morphology of Acheulean handaxes continues to be a subject of debate amongst Lower Palaeolithic archaeologists, with some arguing that many handaxes are over-engineered for a subsistence function alone. This study aims to provide an empirical foundation for these debates by testing the relationship between a range of morphological variables, including symmetry, and the effectiveness of handaxes for butchery. Sixty handaxes were used to butcher 30 fallow deer by both a professional and a non-professional butcher. Regression analysis on the resultant data set indicates that while frontal symmetry may explain a small amount of variance in the effectiveness of handaxes for butchery, a large percentage of variance remains unexplained by symmetry or any of the other morphological variables under consideration.
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