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Testing the Efficiency of Simple Flakes, Retouched Flakes and Small Handaxes During Butchery



Handaxes, simple flakes and retouched flakes are three types of stone tools whose adaptive advantages are highly debated. Interpretations of these technologically different tools suggest that their adequacy for butchery is uneven. Although some experimentation has been made in this regard, further research is needed to understand which of these tool types are more efficient for butchery, thus granting adaptive advantages to the hominins who used them. The present experimental work shows that small handaxes provide higher return rates in butchery activities than simple and retouched flakes. Efficiency (measured in time) is significantly positive in handaxes compared to the other tools when defleshing. In contrast, when comparing the three stone tool sets (simple flakes, retouched flakes and handaxes), the return values obtained for disarticulation are very similar. This study also shows that cut marks do not occur randomly and are less stochastic than previously assumed. Defleshing leaves a preferential cluster of cut marks on mid-shafts from long bones and even on these sections, depending on element type, patterns are statistically demonstrable.