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Chronological variations in handaxes : patterns detected from fluvial archives in north-west Europe.

Bridgland, D.R. and White, M.J. (2015) 'Chronological variations in handaxes : patterns detected from fluvial archives in north-west Europe.', Journal of quaternary science., 30 (7). pp. 623-638.


The use of handaxe morphology as a cultural and temporal marker within the Quaternary Lower–Middle Palaeolithic record has had a very chequered history, and abuses in the past have led recent generations of archaeologist to reject it out of hand. In Britain, however, advances in dating Pleistocene sediments, setting their ages within a framework of ∼11 glacial–interglacial cycles over the past 1 Ma, has revealed several patterns in technology and morphology that must be related to changing practices and cultural preferences over time. These are not predictable, nor are they linear, but nevertheless they may aid understanding of the movements of different peoples in and out of Britain over the past 500 000 years. It is also clear that such patterns are to be expected over a much wider region of the nearby continent, although they might not be identical, or even similar, to those established for southern Britain. This paper extends from explanation of the British patterns to an exploration of the extent to which something comparable can be recognized in neighbouring areas of continental Europe: a baseline for a planned collaborative survey of data from the Acheulean of north-west European river systems.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Acheulean, Early human occupation, Fluvial archives, Handaxes, Lower Palaeolithic, North-west European Pleistocene.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Bridgland, D. R. and White, M. J. (2015), Chronological variations in handaxes: patterns detected from fluvial archives in north-west Europe. Journal of Quaternary Science, 30(7): 623-638, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:01 September 2015
Date deposited:07 September 2015
Date of first online publication:28 September 2015
Date first made open access:28 September 2016

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