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Journal Article

The Interpretation of Bipolar Knapping in African Stone Age Studies

Paloma de la Peña
Current Anthropology
Vol. 56, No. 6 (December 2015), pp. 911-923
DOI: 10.1086/684071
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/684071
Page Count: 13
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The Interpretation of Bipolar Knapping in African Stone Age Studies
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Abstract

Bipolar knapping is presented as a case study for the interpretation of African prehistory. Bipolar knapping was first thought of as a typological marker, but lately it has been referred to as a technological marker. I challenge the idea that the technological change represented by bipolar knapping should be understood as a technological marker, because to do so is simply a translation of an outdated typological definition taken unconsciously from evolutionary schemes. Bipolar knapping, as with many other technological traits belonging to the Final Pleistocene, appears and disappears probably for different cultural and economic reasons. An example of Howiesons Poort bipolar knapping is presented here to highlight the prominence of this technique in the Middle Stone Age, notwithstanding its underrecognition in published lithic analyses.

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