The assemblages from four sites in Spain and Gibraltar form the basis of a study that addresses the behavioral significance of the variability in Middle Paleolithic chipped stone artifacts. Quantitative analysis of artifact edge morphology forms the primary focus of this work.
It is suggested that (1) morphological variability is generally continuous for the features examined, (2) retouched and unretouched lithics are extremes in a continuum of the degree of edge use, (3) lithic morphology is dynamic and artifacts may be multi-functional and (4) lithic morphoplogy is conditioned by the time of discard in the use-life of the artifact. Retouched artifacts may be more the end result of the extent and nature of the use of their various edges than preconceived tools determined by cultural traditions or intended function.
These results are applied to a study of Middle Paleolithic settlement strategies using data from the four primary sites of the study and an additional five sites in the Iberian peninsula. Differences are noted between upland and lowland strategies. Upland sites may represent more of a ‘forager’ strategy, with frequent, short-term occupations of sites. Lowland sites seem more characteristic of a ‘collector’ strategy, with longer occupations and less frequent visits to sites. Settlement response to changing Upper Pleistocene environments during the onset of the last glacial may include a shift to a more ‘forager’-like strategy in lowland settings.