Investigating the opportunistic debitage – an experimental approach
For our world without sound. The opportunistic debitage in the Italian context: a methodological evaluation of the lithic assemblages of Pirro Nord, Cà Belvedere di Montepoggiolo, Ciota Ciara cave and Riparo Tagliente.
Recommendation: posted 18 December 2020, validated 20 December 2020
Leplongeon, A. (2020) Investigating the opportunistic debitage – an experimental approach. Peer Community in Archaeology, 100007. 10.24072/pci.archaeo.100007
The paper “For our world without sound. The opportunistic debitage in the Italian context: a methodological evaluation of the lithic assemblages of Pirro Nord, Cà Belvedere di Montepoggiolo, Ciota Ciara cave and Riparo Tagliente”  submitted by M. Carpentieri and M. Arzarello is a welcome addition to a growing number of studies focusing on flaking methods showing little to no core preparation, e.g., [2–4]. These flaking methods are often overlooked or seen as ‘simple’, which, in a Middle Palaeolithic context, sometimes leads to a dichotomy of Levallois vs. non-Levallois debitage (e.g., see discussion in ).
The authors address this topic by first providing a definition for ‘opportunistic debitage’, derived from the definition of the ‘Alternating Surfaces Debitage System’ (SSDA, ). At the core of the definition is the adaptation to the characteristics (e.g., natural convexities and quality) of the raw material. This is one main challenge in studying this type of debitage in a consistent way, as the opportunistic debitage leads to a wide range of core and flake morphologies, which have sometimes been interpreted as resulting from different technical behaviours, but which the authors argue are part of a same ‘methodological substratum’ .
This article aims to further characterise the ‘opportunistic debitage’. The study relies on four archaeological assemblages from Italy, ranging from the Lower to the Upper Pleistocene, in which the opportunistic debitage has been recognised. Based on the characteristics associated with the occurrence of the opportunistic debitage in these assemblages, an experimental replication of the opportunistic debitage using the same raw materials found at these sites was conducted, with the aim to gain new insights into the method. Results show that experimental flakes and cores are comparable to the ones identified as resulting from the opportunistic debitage in the archaeological assemblage, and further highlight the high versatility of the opportunistic method.
One outcome of the experimental replication is that a higher flake productivity is noted in the opportunistic centripetal debitage, along with the occurrence of 'predetermined-like' products (such as déjeté points). This brings the authors to formulate the hypothesis that the opportunistic debitage may have had a role in the process that will eventually lead to the development of Levallois and Discoid technologies. How this articulates with for example current discussions on the origins of Levallois technologies (e.g., [6–8]) is an interesting research avenue. This study also touches upon the question of how the implementation of one knapping method may be influenced by the broader technological knowledge of the knapper(s) (e.g., in a context where Levallois methods were common vs a context where they were not). It makes the case for a renewed attention in lithic studies for flaking methods usually considered as less behaviourally significant.
 Carpentieri M, Arzarello M. 2020. For our world without sound. The opportunistic debitage in the Italian context: a methodological evaluation of the lithic assemblages of Pirro Nord, Cà Belvedere di Montepoggiolo, Ciota Ciara cave and Riparo Tagliente. OSF Preprints, doi:10.31219/osf.io/2ptjb
 Bourguignon L, Delagnes A, Meignen L. 2005. Systèmes de production lithique, gestion des outillages et territoires au Paléolithique moyen : où se trouve la complexité ? Editions APDCA, Antibes, pp. 75–86. Available: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00447352
 Arzarello M, De Weyer L, Peretto C. 2016. The first European peopling and the Italian case: Peculiarities and “opportunism.” Quaternary International, 393: 41–50. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.005
 Vaquero M, Romagnoli F. 2018. Searching for Lazy People: the Significance of Expedient Behavior in the Interpretation of Paleolithic Assemblages. J Archaeol Method Theory, 25: 334–367. doi:10.1007/s10816-017-9339-x
 Forestier H. 1993. Le Clactonien : mise en application d’une nouvelle méthode de débitage s’inscrivant dans la variabilité des systèmes de production lithique du Paléolithique ancien. Paléo, 5: 53–82. doi:10.3406/pal.1993.1104
 Moncel M-H, Ashton N, Arzarello M, Fontana F, Lamotte A, Scott B, et al. 2020. Early Levallois core technology between Marine Isotope Stage 12 and 9 in Western Europe. Journal of Human Evolution, 139: 102735. doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2019.102735
 White M, Ashton N, Scott B. 2010. The emergence, diversity and significance of the Mode 3 (prepared core) technologies. Elsevier. In: Ashton N, Lewis SG, Stringer CB, editors. The ancient human occupation of Britain. Elsevier. Amsterdam, pp. 53–66.
 White M, Ashton N. 2003. Lower Palaeolithic Core Technology and the Origins of the Levallois Method in North‐Western Europe. Current Anthropology, 44: 598–609. doi:10.1086/377653
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article. The authors declared that they comply with the PCI rule of having no financial conflicts of interest in relation to the content of the article.
The authors declare that they have received no specific funding for this study
Evaluation round #2
DOI or URL of the preprint: 10.31219/osf.io/2ptjb
Version of the preprint: 4
Author's Reply, 18 Dec 2020
Decision by Alice Leplongeon, posted 18 Dec 2020
Thank you for your detailed answer to the reviewers' comments and the changes you have made to the manuscript.
Reviewer #1 does not have any further comment. Reviewer #2 (David Hérisson) details further comments and suggestions (in blue in the attached pdf) that I recommend taking into account in your revised manuscript before it can be formally accepted, in particular the comments regarding the definition for 'opportunistic debitage'.
Thank you for uploading supplementary data on Zenodo. As noted by Reviewer #2, please make sure all data within these files are translated into English. In addition, I have noted some typos in the manuscript and you may find it helpful to have your article proofread.
I am looking forward to reading the revised version of your manuscript,
Reviewed by anonymous reviewer 1, 06 Nov 2020
Reviewed by David Hérisson, 30 Nov 2020
Evaluation round #1
DOI or URL of the preprint: 10.31219/osf.io/2ptjb
Author's Reply, 04 Nov 2020
Decision by Alice Leplongeon, posted 29 Sep 2020
I have received two expert reviews on your preprint entitled ''For our world with no sound. The concept of opportunism in the Italian context: a methodological evaluation of the lithic assemblages of Pirro Nord, Cà Belvedere di Montepoggiolo, Ciota Ciara cave and Riparo Tagliente".
Both reviewers agree that your paper addresses an interesting question and is a welcome contribution to an under-studied topic in lithic analysis. They however suggest some revisions to improve the paper before it can be recommended. These are detailed below this message and as additional in-text comments for Reviewer 1 (see pdf file attached). In particular, both reviewers recommend to further define the concept of opportunism, and to place it in a wider context with specific references to other debitage systems / methods. They also both recommend the addition of details on the figures and in particular diacritic diagrams. Reviewer 1 also recommends to clarify the aims of the experimental programme as well as to provide definitions or references for the terminology used throughout the paper (e.g. bipolar, orthogonal, etc.). In addition, some parts of the texts pointed out by the reviewers require clarification and the additions of subsections would improve the reading. Following the reviewers' comments, I would also suggest to give additional details on the experimentation procedures (how many knappers, their level of skills, awareness of the goal of the study, potential biases in relation with the aim of the study, etc.), in text or as appendices. Please also note that the raw data used in the paper (such as the spreadsheet with the measurements taken on flakes and cores) must be available to readers in the text or through an open data repository such as Zenodo, Dryad or some other institutional repositories (as stated here: https://archaeo.peercommunityin.org/about/help_generic#For%20authors).
I would therefore invite you to submit a revised version of your preprint for another review, taking the reviewers' suggestions into account, and explaining in details how you have dealt with each of the points they raised. If possible, I would appreciate receiving your revised preprint within 4 weeks.
I look forward to reading your revised manuscript,