A flake Cleaver produced by the Tabelbala-Tachengit technique

This is a flake Cleaver produced by the Tabelbala-Tachengit technique, from the N/W-Sahara.

The detachment of large flakes for biface manufacture is suggested to be one a significant technological advance of Homo erectus / ergaster. African cleavers are virtually without any exception made on large flakes. They are rare in Europe and this may be sufficiently explained by the use of different raw material resources. While flakes of the appropriate size could be struck from large blocks of tabular flint or quartzite, it is practically impossible to produce this type of artifact using the nodular flint of the size available throughout much of the European continent. There are surely exceptions: At the Rheutersruh-site, near Kassel, (Hessen, Germany), a lower and middle Paleolithic site, introduced during an earlier post, Flake-Cleavers were made of large flakes, which were produced from high quality quartzite.

There is some indication that local traditions of flake and tool manufacture already existed among late Acheulean sites. In the Middle Pleistocene of South Africa, the method of producing large flakes from radially prepared cores was termed the ‘Victoria West’ technique by Goodwin (1934), after a surface locality in the Northern Cape Province. The ‘Victoria West’ technique is said to be indistinguishable from a ‘true’ débitage Levallois. While ‘Victoria West’ ensembles can only be broadly dated to the middle Pleistocene, in the Kapthurin Formation the Levallois approach to blank production dates to between ~285 and ~ 510 k.a. BP.

As similar method was developed independently in the northwestern Sahara and is known as the Tabelbala-Tachengit technique. Outside Africa, cleavers made on flakes from prepared cores are also found at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov (GBY) dated roughly at 800 k.a. BP. At this site volcanic materials (basalt and basanites) where used, which is suggested to be indicate an African origin of the hominids, that made this advanced Acheulian industry.


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