Technological analysis shows that the Victoria West cores bear similarities to the ' Volumetric Concept' as defined for the Levallois, a popular and widely distributed prepared core technology from at least 200 ka (thousand years ago).
Although these similarities are present, several notable differences also occur that make the Victoria West a unique and distinctive prepared core technology; these are: elongated and convergent core shapes, consistent blow directions for flake removal, a predominance of large side-struck flakes, and the use of these flakes to make Acheulean large cutting tools.
The Fauresmith sample size from the site has been increased, with well-preserved diagnostic Fauresmith artefacts being yielded.
Sedimentological analyses, both macroscopic and microscopic, have identified depositional and post-depositional processes influencing assemblages, including the effects of bioturbation on artefact preservation and displacement at the MCZ.
A multi-disciplinary fine resolution stratigraphically-sensitive approach was adopted to determine if the integrity of the Fauresmith as an assemblage was affected by the mixed contact zone (MCZ) that exists at the interface between the Hutton Sands and the gravels in Pit 4 West.
Using this high resolution stratigraphic framework, this research has provided a more detailed assessment of the context of the Fauresmith than previous excavations.
This technology is, therefore, a significant indicator in studying the evolution of abstract thought and the cognitive abilities of hominids.
Here, we report on Victoria West cores excavated from the Canteen Kopje site in central South Africa, with a preliminary age estimate of approximately 1 Ma (million years ago) for these cores.
Our investigations have shown that largely different contextual conditions are present at each of the three sites.
This has had significant impacts on the integrity of these assemblages, and the preservation and retention of assemblage components are highly variable between them.
All of the artefact assemblages show the following characteristics: simple strategies in core reduction, low levels of reduction in both cores and formal tools, simple and expedient production of retouched artefacts with little emphasis on careful edge modification, and large cutting tools (LCTs) that are flaked bifacially but have limited shaping overall.
For the first time in half a century our research now provides comparative material from three dated sites that can be used to help understand variability in the local Acheulean Tradition.
Previous excavations at Canteen Kopje, including those from 2007-2014, were conducted at relatively low resolution and relied heavily on the spit system of spatial control.