Constructing prehistory: Lithic analysis in the Levantine Epipalaeolithic
Pirie, A. (2004) Constructing prehistory: Lithic analysis in the Levantine Epipalaeolithic. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 10 (3). pp. 675-703. ISSN 1359-0987
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This study explores the way in which our picture of the Levantine Epipalaeolithic has been created, investigating the constructs that take us from found objects to coherent narrative about the world. Drawing on the treatment of chipped stone, the fundamental raw material of prehistoric narratives, it examines the use of figurative devices - of metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche - to make the connection between the world and the words we need to describe it. The work of three researchers is explored in a case study of the Middle Epipalaeolithic with the aim of showing how different research goals and methodologies have created characteristics for the period that are so entrenched in discourse as to have become virtually invisible.Yet the definition of distinct cultures with long-lasting traditions, the identification of two separate ethnic trajectories linked to separate environmental zones, and the analysis of climate as the key driver of change all rest on analytical manoeuvres to transform objects into data.