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image of Journal of East Asian Archaeology

The concept of a technological "line" separating eastern Asia from western Asia, Africa, and Europe was first proposed by Hallam L. Movius over forty years ago. Despite the fact that other features of Movius' model have since required revision, his interpretation continues to be widely followed. Recent studies on the rate and extent of gene flow or cultural contact between Early Pleistocene hominid populations in eastern and western Asia have resuscitated Movius' classificatory scheme to support arguments inferring hierarchical sociobehavioral abilities between these two hominid populations. It is our contention that Movius' classificatory scheme provides no objective basis for ranking the tool traditions of eastern Asia and the rest of the world.

This study offers an approach to the analysis and classification of Early Paleolithic tools that provides relatively objective criteria for comparing tool traditions. This approach is based upon replication of typologies and technologies for eight Early Paleolithic assemblages in Asia using local sources of raw material. By determining the stages of the tool manufacturing process present, the quality of the raw material, and the range of forms for each site, this approach provides a standard basis for comparison among tool traditions and variations within those traditions.

Affiliations: 1: Washington University in St. Louis


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