This flint Levallois flake is from France. The Levallois method refers to a specific way the core was reduced to create a Levallois flake, which was then used as a tool. The method was practiced from ca. 30,000-300,000 BP, and its technical sophistication implies a significant advancement in hominin cognitive capabilities from the preceding Acheulean hominin stoneworkers.
See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.
This large Levallois flake was struck from a core reduced centripetally, by striking flakes from around the periphery. This created the dome in the core’s centre, which was then removed by one hard-hammer blow onto a carefully-prepared platform at the end of the core. The flake was retouched towards the dorsal surface along the flake’s lateral edges at the proximal end of the flake. Retouching also occured along the dorsal platform edge. This dorsal platform retouching intrudes into the lateral edge retouching in one area (refer to the annotations on the model), which indicates that this retouching was done after the flake was removed from the core. The edges of the artefact are damaged by taphonomic flaking and the faces are marked by iron smears, suggesting that it was collected from a ploughed field.
The Levallois reduction method emerged by about 300,000 BP from the preceding Acheulean, handaxe-focused technologies. The shift was significant in human evolution, as it marks the emergence of advanced levels of strategic planning in stone-flaking, which in turn implies cognitive capabilities that required enhanced working memory. These are hallmarks of high-level cognition like that seen in Homo sapiens, although the Levallois method was also applied by Homo neanderthalensis and other Homo species that lived during this period. In the Levallois method, the core is flaked by hard-hammer percussion to deliberately produce a flake of a specific shape; the flake shape is ‘predetermined’ by the way the core is set up. Levallois cores are bifacial—flaked on two faces—with one face carefully domed to create the high mass that will be removed in striking off the Levallois flake. The opposite face is flaked non-invasively to create platforms for striking off the ‘doming’ flakes from the core face. In this sense, there is a ‘hierarchical’ conception of the core, where one face is only used to prepare platforms, and the opposite face is only used to create the desired Levallois flakes. In technical parlance, this doming process involved manipulating the ‘convexity’ (the degree of doming) of the core face; lateral convexities are created by flaking along the sides of the core, and distal convexity is created by flaking the end of the core. Once the domed core face is set up, a platform is carefully prepared at the end of the dome, and the dome is struck off as the Levallois flake. The core may then be reworked, and another Levallois flake struck off, and so on. A variety of Levallois approaches have been defined by archaeologists.