There has been intense debate over the ‘meaning’ of Lower Palaeolithic handaxe form for more than a decade. Handaxes date from around 1.7 million years onwards, and many show attention to elements of form such as symmetry and a conformity to the ‘golden ratio’ which go beyond immediate function. Our challenge in interpreting such patterning is that we cannot assume a ‘modern’ cognition to the makers of Acheulian handaxes nor capacities to negotiate concepts such as status or symbolism which we use to explain non-functional or elaborate forms in modern contexts. Existing interpretations of handaxe form have been dominated by the seminal ‘sexy handaxe theory’ (Kohn and Mithen 1999) which envisaged the production of handaxes as driven by sexual selection processes common to all mammal species. In contrast it is argued here that an emerging concern with reputation building seen amongst higher primates developed within highly collaborative Acheulian societies into a concern with ‘trustworthiness’ and the expression of ‘gestures of goodwill’ to others via handaxe form.
|Number of pages||15|
|Early online date||15 Nov 2012|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|