Have We Overlooked Something? Hafting Traces and Indications of Modern Traits in the Philippine Palaeolithic

Alfred Pawlik


Behavioural modernity has been a widely neglected topic for Southeast Asia’s Prehistory. Evidence of modern packages or even traits is basically absent in the Palaeolithic assemblages. This absence has considerably influenced the discussion of hominid behaviour and their cultural and cognitive abilities. In a case study on terminal Pleistocene artefacts from Ille Cave on Palawan Island, indications of the presence of several items of the modern trait list, foremost the first evidence of hafted lithic tools and the use of adhesives in the Philippine Palaeolithic, were detected through microwear analysis. The results showed that unretouched and morphologically less characteristic flaked artefacts often considered as mere expedient tools could have served as hafted armatures of multicomponent tools. For the ongoing discussion on the development and expansion of modern behaviour, methods like microwear analysis can enhance the limitations of traditional technological and morphological analysis of lithic assemblages.

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