Levallois Primer and Links

I think it's probably better to use pictures rather than to try to lay my argument before you in words. First, an illustration of the supposed desired end-products of the Levallois Technique, as defined by François Bordes in the mid-twentieth century. In the Levallois technique schematically. Core preparation involves the sequential removal of flakes in such a way that the prepared core will have the surficial morphology necessary to chip off a final flake of desired, and predetermined shape.

 Bordes created a typology for the Levallois tortoise-shell core, one specific morphology for each of the presumed desired end-products. There were, I believe, ten core types in all.

Next up, those ten core shapes and the flakes presumed to be the desired end-products. Arrayed around the edges, the tiny arrows represent the direction of the blow that removed each flake. As you can see, they all have a unique suite of removals, such that, if just the core were to be found one could infer the desired end-product, and vice versa.
François Bordes's Levallois core and flake types.
 It all looks so polished. Doesn't it? If only the reality were reflected in the above types. Alas! The reality confounds even the most dedicated adherents. That's because, in the jillions of lithic artifacts that  Borde saw during his prolific excavations across rural France, he could sort them into groups that looked more or less like one another, and at the same time, which distinguished each grouping from the rest. To narrow it down to these nine types, Bordes must have cherry-picked. There's just no way that every core of this kind he ever saw manifested one of these undoubtedly idealized forms. Now, have a look at the next image. It uses a couple of illustrations from the Japanese-led excavations at Dederiyeh, a cave in Syria. [By the way, as best I can figure it, Akazawa illustrates each and every one of the Levallois artifacts recovered in the cave. So, what's represented are the bona fide outcomes of the Dederiyeh bipedal apes' oeuvre over millenia. No 'cherry-picking' here!] They are presented as Levallois cores, which, by definition, can be used to deduce the final flake's morphology. I've those morphologies by tracing in red the outlines of each final flake removed from these presumptive Levallois cores. Stare at them for a while. Compare them with the 'ideal' morphologies of Bordes's typology [above].

Levallois tortoise-shell cores from Dederiyeh, Syria (Akazawa, T. “Chapter X: Palaeolithic Assemblages From The Douara Cave Site.” In The Palaeolithic Site At Douara Cave In Syria, Part II, edited by H. Suzuki and F. Takai. Tokyo: The University Of Tokyo, The University Museum).

What's up with this? If these are Levallois cores, then either the stone-worker was on a very steep learning curve, or there's a great deal of variability in such artifacts than is suggested [nay, prescribed] in Bordes's typology. Look closely at these Dederiyeh artifacts and you can see that they do resemble the Levallois tortoise-shell cores. But there's nothing Levallois looking about the final flake removals. I suppose it'd be possible to shoe-horn every one of them into one or another of Bordes's types. These kind of result, I believe, are the reality of the Levallois technique; it must have required quite a stretch from Bordes. Why is a question that can't be answered in so short a time. But, take it from me, there's much about the so-called Levallois technique that doesn't live up to its reputation as being the result of a modern-human-like cognitive ability.

Finally, a riddle. What do you get when you prepare a Levallois tortoise-shell core but don't remove the final flake? Answer: a hand axe.

"I am not *sschlick* a Flint-knapper... I'm *sschlick* an archaeologist!

With All Due Respect to François Bordes and Eric Boëda...

Levallois Take-down, Part Deux

Out of Arabia? The Levallois Technique in Oman. No Biggy. Right? Marks and Rose Claim Otherwise. Why? Including an Apology to Messrs. Rose and Marks. Sort of.

Putting Middle Palaeolithic Archaeologists on Notice (except Harold Dibble, that is)

If It Looks Like It and Smells Like It, There's No Need To Eat It Just To Make Sure

Journal of Archaeological Pseudo-science: Middle Pleistocene Mythopoeism from Kathu Pan 1

Kathu! Gesundheit! More Archaeologists With Rocks On Their Brains

The Real Meaning of 'All Things Being Equal'

A Black Spot on Palaeolithic Archaeology: The Two Bitumen-Splattered Mousterian Artifacts from Umm el Tlal, Syria.

Blinkhorn, et al. Are Totally Mired In MP Mythology, So It Would Be Cruel To Make Fun Of What They Found In The Thar Desert.