Romancing the Stones: Biases, Style and Lithics at La Riera



This chapter discusses paradigmatic biases and style in lithic analysis, and presents a case study using a lithic data set from northern Spain. Biases are considered first, since they affect our capacity to perceive pattern in an archaeological record, determine which of a number of alternative approaches is considered to be appropriate, and affect systematics of all kinds and at all levels in a problem domain.

Second, anthropological and archaeological notions of style are outlined and discussed, and an effort is made to identify modal characteristics of archaeological definitions as they bear on the analysis of stone tools and debitage.

Finally, lithic and faunal data from paleolithic deposits at La Riera cave (Asturias, Spain) are examined from a number of different perspectives operationalized through the creation of multiple typologies and the monitoring of variable frequencies, first by simple indices and ratios, and subsequently by multivariate techniques. These procedures allowed for the partitioning of overall assemblage variability into a small number of overlapping but fairly discrete causal vectors. The causal vectors constitute hypothetical explanations for recurrent patterns in the La Riera sequence and at other north Spanish sites. They allow us to create a scenario for the different activities that took place repeatedly in the cave over the Tardiglacial and early Postglacial periods - a scenario that can be generalized to other penecontemporaneous sites in the region.