Late pleistocene technology, economic behavior, and land-use dynamics in Southern Italy

Riel Salvatore Julien, C Michael Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


This paper proposes a new methodology to study prehistoric lithic assemblages in an attempt to derive from that facet of prehistoric behavior the greater technoeconomic system in which it was embedded. By using volumetric artifact density and the frequency of retouched pieces within a given lithic assemblage, it becomes possible to identify whether these stone tools were created by residentially mobile or logistically organized foragers. The linking factor between assemblage composition and land-use strategy is that of curation within lithic assemblages as an expression of economizing behavior. This method is used to study eight sites from southeastern Italy to detect changes in adaptation during the Late Pleistocene. We compare and contrast Mousterian, Uluzzian, proto-Aurignacian and Epigravettian assemblages, and argue that the first three industries overlap considerably in terms of their technoeconomic flexibility. Epigravettian assemblages, on the other hand, display a different kind of land-use exploitation pattern than those seen in the earlier assemblages, perhaps as a response to deteriorating climatic conditions at the Last Glacial maximum. While we discuss the implications of these patterns in the context of modern human origins, we argue that the methodology can help identify land-use patterns in other locales and periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-274
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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