A second life: Recycling production waste during the Middle Palaeolithic in layer L at Grotta del Cavallo (Lecce, Southeast Italy)


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March 2015


This paper presents the modalities of recycling in lithic assemblage in layer L at Grotta del Cavallo (Middle Palaeolithic, Southeast Italy). The layer exhibits a high diversity of exogenous (>50 km) and local (<5 Km) raw material, including marine shells for producing retouched tools. Recycling is attested in local raw material and in shell valves. I identified four recycling modalities, related to four object categories, and analysed each one separately: lithic retouched tools, macro tools, short products with sharp edges, and marine-shell tools with two orthogonal edges. I interpreted this behaviour in relation to a time-cost model. The aim was to evaluate the role of recycling in changing technological costs and to investigate if recycling was a planned strategy and how it was incorporated into the techno-economic organisation of the human group. The lithic assemblage displays a high spatio-temporal segmentation of productive sequences based on discoidal methods, the production of small flakes, the majority less than 3 cm in length, and a high technical investment in retouch. The results of the recycling cost-benefit analysis suggest that this behaviour was integrated into an economic setting regulated by time constrictions during tasks performed at the site within a logistic mobility. In this layer, recycling was an occasional behaviour, which allowed humans to respond to unplanned needs, and was facilitated by the low degree of volumetric constraints in the productive methods applied and by the short dimensions of the tools used. Recycling was an element that contributed to define the cultural entity, appearing as a specific trait in a given human group.


Neanderthal, Lithic Tools, Techno-Cultural Variability, Scavenging, Time-Cost Model, Raw Material Provisioning

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Quaternary International, Vol. 361 (2015-03-10).