Not formal but functional: Traceology and the Lithic Record in the Philippines

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While the lithic technology and production of stone tools in the Philippines remained remarkably simple until the Late Holocene; the few use-wear and residue studies undertaken so far on Philippine lithic materials have illustrated some interesting technological features that suggest that complex use-contexts already existed by the Late Pleistocene that are not evident in the basic production attributes of flakes. In addition; finds of polished bone tools and shell adzes as well as flaked artefacts made of marine shells indicate that a range of tools made of organic material complemented the basic lithic tool kits. The use of tools made of bamboo and wood has been proposed for the Palaeolithic of Southeast Asia since long. While artefactual evidence for such tools remains missing; several use-wear analyses have indeed identified wear traces that suggest the processing of wood and bamboo with stone tools.Although the overall absence of a distinctively different technology and tool formality through time has nullified attempts at producing meaningful typological and technological classifications in the lithic record; traceological analysis of lithic assemblages in the Philippines confirmed the utilization of simple flakes for a great variety of processes and activities and gave indications for complex technologies; not unlike; for instance; the more formal prehistoric tools of the European Upper- and Epi-Palaeolithic.