Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Enloe, James G

First Committee Member

Whittaker, John C

Second Committee Member

Bettis, Arthur

Third Committee Member

Franciscus, Robert G

Fourth Committee Member

Storey, Glenn R


The Aurignacian is a contentious time period in paleoanthropology. The myriad social changes which accompany the Upper Paleolithic transition have often become associated with the physical tools which Aurignacian people left behind. One result of this is the current tendency of professionals to use blade technology as an indicator of "modernity," rather than examining how changes accompanying the Upper Paleolithic transition made blades a useful adaptation. Of particular importance is the fact that the adoption of blades coincides with a long distance shift in the system used to procure and transport the lithic raw materials. This suggests that before we can use blades to answer anthropological questions about the Aurignacian, we need to establish the relationship between blade production and the acquisition of exotic raw materials.

This dissertation combines an analysis of the lithic collection from the French archaeological site of Abri Cellier with the experimental fracture of lithic raw material samples in order to examine the impact of raw material quality on Aurignacian blade production. The analysis of the assemblage from Abri Cellier demonstrates that Aurignacian blades manufactured on exotic materials were of higher quality than those produced locally. The experimental fracture of raw material samples reveals that the differences in the quality of the exotic and local materials do not sufficiently account for the differences in the quality of the blades produced on them. This implies that the differential transport of high quality final products accounts for the increased quality of exotic blades at Abri Cellier.

This research examines a number of new ways to evaluate quality in the archaeological record. More importantly, however, it firmly demonstrates that the acquisition of long distance raw materials was not a prerequisite for blade production in the Perigord. This work will conclude by arguing that blades played a role in increasing the maintainability of a hafted toolkit geared towards meeting the requirements of an increasingly mobile and collaborative Aurignacian population.


Aurignacian, Blades, Experimental Archaeology, Lithics, Raw Material Studies, Upper Paleolithic


xii, 182 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 166-182).


Copyright 2011 Alexander Davidson Woods

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