The Western European Acheulean Project

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The Western European Acheulean Project

The Western Euroapean Acheulean Project (WEAP) was funded by the European Commission throughout a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellowship (ID: 748316). It aimed to characterize the occupational pattern of western Europe during the Middle Pleistocene (MP) -700 to 300Ka-, through the study of Acheulean handaxes and cleavers from 10 archaeological sites in Britain, France and Spain. Recent research has shown that the Atlantic seaboard is the most likely route for colonisation due to the more oceanic climate compared to eastern Europe and to the richer range of resources in coastal areas. Due to cyclical changes in climate with glaciations and interglacials, northern Europe was frequently depopulated and then recolonized through this period probably from source areas in southern France and Iberia. This route-way should therefore bear witness to the cultural links between north and south. From 1 million to 600,000 years ago there is evidence of brief pioneering events in north-west Europe with a small number of sites and small numbers of stone tool artefacts. After 600,000 year ago more sustained occupation is shown by the increase in sites and the much large stone tool assemblages.

WEAP was an ambitious research project whose first step was to devise a unified methodology to devise a common methodology to describe critical features in the lithic assemblages, in order to better interpret the Middle Pleistocene hominin occupation of Western Europe. This could be achieved through the combination of (1) the development of a common methodological approach to the study of bifaces from several sites and countries, and (2) the application of innovative technologies (3D records and statistics). Digitization and 3D analyses clearly provide a new tool to measure the shape considering plan and profile shapes at the same time and combined with thickness of tools. In addition, using 3D models we can also measure shape in terms of internal variability of assemblages, or distance significance between groups, or even explore and compare the mean shapes of each group. Finally, the 3D models have become really exciting data for the dissemination to both the scientific community and the general public, helping us to move the research forward and make more accurate comparisons between sites for a regional understanding of the occupation of Western Europe.

This project has been hosted at the British Museum (London, UK), under the supervision of Nick Ashton (2017-2019).

Other closer collaborations: 

- Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle (MNHN- UMR 7194), Paris, France 

- Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES-CERCA), Tarragona, Spain

- University of Bradford, UK.

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This community will be devoted to share 3D models, pictures, papers or any relevant information that could be interesting for the scientific community to the analysis of the Acheulean technology.

January 14, 2021
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OAI-PMH Interface

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