This chert recurrent unidirectional Levallois core is from Israel. The Levallois method refers to a specific way the core was flaked to create a Levallois flake, which was then used as a tool. On this core, Levallois flakes were struck in series (‘recurrent’) in one direction (‘unidirectional’) from a platform at the end of the core. The recurrent unidirectional Levallois method was found alongside Homo sapiens remains at Misliya Cave in Israel, dating to ca. 150,000-240,000 BP, and this approach is typical for the Tabun D industry identified at Tabun Cave, ca. 130,000-250,000 BP.
This core is classified as unidirectional (or ‘unipolar’) Levallois because the desired flakes were struck in the same direction from one end of the core. A series of Levallois flakes were struck from this one platform edge, referred to as a ‘recurrent’ pattern. The removal of each Levallois flake was done in such a way that it enhanced the convexities for the next flake, struck parallel to it. The only flaking to the non-core face was to create platforms for striking the Levallois flakes; this differs significantly to the ‘centripetal’ method of manipulating a Levallois core. Several of the Levallois scars on this core are elongated and blade-like, hinting at the blade technologies that were to dominate the stone-flaking of subsequent Palaeolithic periods. The core was made on a thick weathering spall from a chert nodule. The flake scars are heavily patinated, attesting to the core’s great age.
The Levallois reduction method emerged by about 300,000 BP in Africa 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.