Animal residues found on tiny Lower Paleolithic tools reveal their use in butchery
Stone tools provide a unique window into the mode of adaptation and cognitive abilities of Lower Paleolithic early humans. The persistently produced large cutting tools (bifaces/handaxes) have long been an appealing focus of research in the reconstruction of Lower Paleolithic survival strategies, at the expenses of the small flake tools considered by-products of the stone production process rather than desired end products. Here, we use use-wear, residues and technological analyses to show direct and very early evidence of the deliberate production and use of small flakes for targeted stages of the prey butchery process at the late Lower Paleolithic Acheulian site of Revadim, Israel. We highlight the significant role of small flakes in Lower Paleolithic adaptation alongside the canonical large handaxes. Our results demonstrate the technological and cognitive flexibility of early human groups in the Levant and beyond at the threshold of the departure from Lower Paleolithic lifeways.