40,000 years of technological continuity and change at Matja Kuru 2, Timor-Leste

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Quaternary Science Reviews


Timor-Leste is known for long-term continuity in lithic manufacturing techniques that span at least the last 44,000 years. Here we confirm this pattern of long-term continuity in stone tool manufacture at the site of Matja Kuru 2, located on Timor-Leste close to the freshwater Lake Ira Lalaro. The lithic assemblage is characterised by high reduction intensity and frequent use of bipolar, ‘core-on-flake’, discoidal and multiplatform core reduction to produce small flakes while high levels of retouch, heat damage and breakage. While continuity is an important feature of the assemblage, we also document important changes in technology, raw material selection and recycling/extension strategies over time. We posit that the long periods of absence at MK2 may coincide with drier phases when Ira Lalaro likely dried and that more extensive use of the cave occurs during wet phases with attendant lake high conditions. The lithic assemblage indicates increased mobility and individual provisioning in the transitions between these phases of site use and abandonment. The Matja Kuru 2 lithic assemblage also reveals the earliest known evidence yet found for obsidian and possible inter-island transport in Wallacea.

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Australian Research Council



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