Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Prof. Dr. Daniel Adler

Associate Advisor

Prof. Dr. Sally McBrearty

Associate Advisor

Prof. Dr. Robert Thorson

Associate Advisor

Prof. Dr. Wil Roebroeks

Associate Advisor

Prof. Dr. Philip Van Peer

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


The Palaeolithic archaeological database of northwest Europe is biased towards evidence originating in caves, rockshelters, fluvial, and littoral settings. Theories of regional land use patterns are therefore based on samples of behavioral residues from only certain parts of the environment. In addition, abundant and often ignored evidence for Palaeolithic land use is found in surface lithic assemblages occurring on elevated terraces and plateaus in river catchments. Integrating technological data from these landforms is necessary to complement this unbalanced picture of land use.

This dissertation presents the results of analysis of lithic assemblages from elevated surfaces in the region of Dutch and Belgian Limburg, and attempts to integrate these data with those from lower elevation parts of the landscape to test hypotheses on land use and mobility.

It was necessary to address theoretical and substantive problems associated with the time averaged, palimpsest nature of surface assemblages. When scales of analysis and theoretical perspectives were adjusted to accommodate these problems, long-term patterns of regional land use behavior became identifiable.

The research examines how lithic assemblages on elevated surfaces vary in terms of raw material procurement, inter-site fragmentation of core reduction sequences, and patterns of artifact discard; and how this variability relates to site occupational frequency, an indicator of differential land use.

Detailed techno-typological analysis was applied to samples of lithic assemblages from 9 sites (n artifacts = 2885). Comparison among assemblages from high and low elevation settings was conducted using analyses of artifact class diversity in relation to sample size.

The results of these efforts indicate differences in site occupational frequency that describe variability in site function. Over the long time span of the Middle Palaeolithic, stable elevated terraces and plateaus were frequently re-occupied for a variety of purposes, whereas lower elevation localities, often in fluvial settings, were occupied less frequently for specific tasks. Logistical mobility was probably more common than traditionally thought for Palaeolithic groups in the research area.

This research demonstrates that systematic analysis of Palaeolithic upland surface assemblages yields valuable data that can be integrated with those from other parts of the landscape to investigate long-term regional land use.