Stage and continuum approaches in prehistoric biface production: A North American perspective
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0170947

North American lithic analysis often assigns biface preforms to discrete, successive stages defined in Callahan’s influential study. Yet recent research questions the stage concept, emphasizing instead a continuous view of the reduction process. To compare stage and continuum approaches, their assumptions are tested in experimental replicas, including Callahan’s, and empirical Paleoindian preform assemblages. In these samples, biface reduction is a process that can be tracked and measured by continuous measures of size and reduction allometry. The process is characterized by continuous variation in the rate at which preform weight declines with preform volume. That is, weight declines at an ever-declining rate through the production process. Reduction is complex, but understood better as an allometric process than as a sequence of technological stages. “Stage” may be a useful heuristic or summary device, but preform assemblages should be analyzed in detail to reveal the continuous allometric processes that govern biface production.