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Acheulean Diversity in Britain (MIS 15-MIS11): From the Standardization to the Regionalization of Technology

García-Medrano, Paula; Shipton, Ceri; White, Mark; Ashton, Nick

Acheulean Diversity in Britain (MIS 15-MIS11): From the Standardization to the Regionalization of Technology Thumbnail


Paula García-Medrano

Ceri Shipton

Nick Ashton


The appearance of the Acheulean and the production of new bifacial tools marked a revolution in human behavior. The use of longer and complex operative chains, with centripetal and recurrent knapping, adapted to different raw materials, created long useful edges, converging in a functional distal end. How and why these handaxes vary has been the subject of intense debates. Britain provides a clearly defined region at the edge of the hominin occupied world for discussing variation in Acheulean assemblages. The environmental changes from MIS 15 to MIS 11 are significant in understanding population change, with probable breaks in evidence during MIS 14 and MIS 12, followed by several sites during the long stable climate of MIS11c. In this latter period, different Acheulean technological expressions appear to coexist in Britain. This paper draws together different studies, combining technology and geometric morphometrics to analyze handaxes from six British sites: Brandon Fields, Boxgrove (Q1B), High Lodge, Hitchin, Swanscombe (UMG), and Elveden. Compared to the earlier Acheulean of MIS 15, the assemblages of MIS 13 show increased standardization and the use of soft hammer percussion for thinning mid-sections and butts of tools, or sharpening tips through tranchet removals. Although there is regional population discontinuity through MIS12 there is no evidence of a marked change in technology after this glacial period. Rather, there is a development towards more intense shaping with the same underlying techniques, but with flexibility in imposed handaxe form. From MIS11 there appear to be distinctive localized traditions of manufacture, which suggest that a recognition of place and territories had developed by this time. These are expressed over medium time-scales of several thousand years and have significance for how we view cultural expression and transmission.


García-Medrano, P., Shipton, C., White, M., & Ashton, N. (2022). Acheulean Diversity in Britain (MIS 15-MIS11): From the Standardization to the Regionalization of Technology. Frontiers in Earth Science, 10, Article 917207.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 19, 2022
Online Publication Date Jun 8, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jul 18, 2022
Publicly Available Date Jul 18, 2022
Journal Frontiers in Earth Science
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Article Number 917207


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Copyright Statement
© 2022 García-Medrano, Shipton, White and Ashton. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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