This is a preferential Levallois flake (ca 9 cm diameter) from a Middle Paleolithic workshop site in Southern France.
Every scientific field has its own conventions of discussing scientific results. Scientists are hominins that are usually highly adapted to current paradigms, provided by influential figures of their own discipline. These paradigms are communicated by congresses and publications. The common mainstream is enforced by the dependence of young investigators on their own scientific teachers and the conformism which enables individuals to survive in a potential dangerous intellectual environment. In so far the situation of prehistoric anthropology is not very different to my own discipline (university medicine).
Here some ironic suggestions how to discuss lithic technology during the early and middle Paleolithic. By reviewing a random sample of 20 papers, I came to the conclusion that the same data can be used to develop a hypothesis or to substantiate the contrary. In this respect prehistoric archaeology (and other scientific fields) have some similarities to the discipline of psychoanalysis (Karl Kraus: “psychoanalysis is the disease for which it purports to be the cure”).
Predominance of handaxes and bifacial elements: Good quality of raw material; alternative view: bifacial tradition of an isolated group of hominins; alternative view: a “geste automatique” of hominines who made the tools; alternative view: predictable and flexible technology in a dangerous environment by transporting potential cores in the landscape; alternative view: element of successful adaption; alternative view: element of stasis; alternative view: indicator of specialized exploitation of resources after people had already been present in the region for a longer time.
Predominance of small lithic artifacts: Poor quality of raw material; alternative view: Microlithic tradition of an isolated group of hominins; alternative view: a “geste automatique” of hominins who made the tools with abilities not very different from the abilities of chimps; unspecialized exploitation of resources after a short residence time at the site; alternative view: flexible technology in a dangerous environment used by cognitive advanced hominins; alternative view: simple technological system, simple opportunistic behavior; low level of conceptual thought.
Levallois concept: Good quality of raw material; alternative view: predictable and flexible technology in a dangerous environment; alternative view: high level of conceptual thought; alternative view: expensive technology with great investments and only moderate outcome.
Non-Levallois concept: Poor quality of raw material; alternative view: opportunistic behavior of silly hominins or opportunistic behavior of highly flexible hominins; alternative view: an inevitable consequence of raw material, that was used; alternative view: predictable and flexible technology in a dangerous environment; alternative view: either a high or low level of conceptual thought of either silly or wise hominins.
Man the toolmaker: After choosing your argumentation you can couple your suggestions with the hominins or, if you prefer: hominids, that could be the tool makers ( H. erectus, H. Heidelbergensis, Neanderthals, [archaic] H. sapiens).