The symmetry of handaxes from the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region
In this paper, we present a three-dimensional (3D) quantitative approach to measure the degree of symmetry of handaxes from the Danjiangkou Reservoir Region (DRR), central China. Our analysis provides not only information on the bilateral symmetry, as most previous studies have done, but also on the symmetry of the profile view. The results show that the overall degree of symmetry of handaxes in plan view is much higher than for profile views in the DRR assemblages. However, the range of values for deviation from absolute symmetry for each specimen indicates that both plan and profile views possess great variability in symmetry. Comparisons of handaxes from two terraces (the Middle Pleistocene Terrace 3 and the early Late Pleistocene Terrace 2) demonstrate that the degree of symmetry did not increase over time in these two samples. Both the type of blank and the type of shaping play roles in determining the final degree of symmetry of the DRR handaxes. According to these results, we argue that there is no strictly imposed final symmetrical shape for the DRR handaxes, and the degree of symmetry is most likely related to some basic factors (e.g., bilateral and bifacial shaping and blank types). However, although a mental template for a preferred end product is absent, a conceptual standardization did indeed exist.