Identifying Style in Stone Artefacts: a Case Study from the Nile Valley



This paper examines current theories of, and approaches to, style in flaked stone artefacts. In light of the simplicity of flaked stone artefacts and the more or less mixed nature of Stone Age assemblages of any size, it is concluded that, in this context, the most appropriate type of style is the subconscious variety that arises out of choices between functionally equivalent options, and that we should try to eliminate from consideration traits that represent either individual or deliberate stylistic input. For the Stone Age, style can usefully be pursued only at a fairly high level of social grouping.

A case study of stylistic analysis is provided by Late Palaeolithic assemblages from the Nile Valley. These include the large series of sites from Wadi Kubbaniya, where several Late Palaeolithic “industries,” as traditionally defined, occur within a very confined geographical area and under well controlled and well dated stratigraphic conditions.