Document Type

Journal Article


This study reexamines the current understanding of Pleistocene stone-artifact assemblages in island Southeast Asia. A differentiation has long been made between assemblages of large-sized "core tools" and assemblages of small-sized "flake tools." "Core tool" assemblages are often argued to be the handiwork of early hominin species such as Homo erectus, while small-sized "flake tool" assemblages have been attributed to Homo sapiens. We argue that this traditional Southeast Asian perspective on stone tools assumes that the artifacts recovered from a site reflect a complete technological sequence. Our analyses of Pleistocene-age artifact assemblages from Flores, Indonesia, demonstrate that large pebble-based cores and small flake-based cores are aspects of one reduction sequence. We propose that the Flores pattern applies across island Southeast Asia: large-sized "core tool" assemblages are in fact a missing element of the small-sized flake-based reduction sequences found in many Pleistocene caves and rock-shelters. We conclude by discussing the implications of this for associating stone-artifact assemblages with hominin species in island Southeast Asia.