Harold L. Dibble

Harold L. Dibble

Harold Lewis Dibble (born 26 July, 1951, in Downey, California, U.S.) is an American Paleolithic archaeologist best known for his theory of lithic reduction and his methodological advancements in archaeological fieldwork in France, Egypt, and Morocco. He is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator-in-Charge of the European Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Personal life

Dibble spent his youth in California, Florida, and Sierra Vista, Arizona before attending college at the University of Arizona. In addition to managing a Shakey's Pizza while living in California, he also drummed for a short-lived band in Sierra Vista named Joy, who once performed as the opening act for Alice Cooper.

He is married to Lee Dibble with two sons. He enjoys cooking (his favorite food is boudin) and has published a volume, "The Human Evolution Cookbook", that married evolutionary humor with recipes like "Habilis Hash" and "Laetoli Trail Mix".


Dibble received his B.A. in 1971 and Ph.D. in 1981, both from the University of Arizona. He wrote his dissertation under the direction of Professor (now Emeritus) Arthur J. Jelinek [ [http://anthro.web.arizona.edu/people/display_fac_details.php?id=10 UA Department of Anthropology - Faculty, Staff, and Students ] ] , an American archaeologist who had been trained in North American prehistoric archaeology by Leslie A. White and who worked on both the Paleolithic of Western Eurasia and the Mimbres culture in New Mexico. [ [http://anthro.web.arizona.edu/tradition/trad_index.php UA Department of Anthropology - Tradition of Excellence ] ] While a graduate student in the late 1970s, Dibble excavated with the French prehistorian François Bordes at the site of Pech de l'Azé IV in Carsac-Aillac, France, with whom he developed a strong mentoring relationship.

Archaeological Work

The majority of Dibble's archaeological work has been centered around Neandertals and early modern humans in Western Eurasia, and more particularly on the stone tools which are thought to have been the primary mode of their material culture. He wrote his dissertation on the stone tool technology of Tabun Cave in Israel and then focused primarily on France, with other research on the Zagros stone tool industries until beginning work in Egypt and Morocco in 2001 and 2006 respectively. In addition to his excavation work, he has maintained a quintessentially skeptical view of symbolism in the Middle Paleolithic, on which he has published several articles, and he has strongly advocated quantitative methods in archaeology. To that end, he pioneered the use of GIS and total stations in excavations and has worked to quantify the understanding of stone tool manufacture via reproductive experiments.

Scraper Reduction

Dibble's most well-known contribution to archaeological thought is commonly known as scraper reduction, built off of ideas first developed by Jelinek and George C. Frison. Dibble’s hypothesis, with testability typical of American archaeology and borne out by extensive material study, is that as Middle Paleolithic scrapers are subject to retouching, their forms change in a predictable manner, and the many scraper types of the Bordian typology represent different stages in the continuum of reduction from fresh blank to exhausted transverse scraper. Moreover, the intensity of reduction, as measured by quantity of more reduced versus less reduced scrapers, strongly correlates to availability of raw material.

An analogy used repeatedly by Dibble is that of a pencil. Its initial form is long, with a full eraser and blunt writing end, which is then sharpened and used repeatedly until discarded in a much shorter form with a worn eraser. This is the form in which the pencil would be found by someone digging through the trash, though it bears little resemblance to the initially produced form of the pencil. If pencils are more plentiful, then they may be more readily discarded earlier in their use life; if they are more scarce, then they will be resharpened far more and discarded in a far smaller state. This parallels the forms in which archaeologists find the used and discarded forms of Middle Paleolithic scrapers.

At the time of its proposition, this was a relatively radical idea, as prior to then it was generally assumed that the typological categories were both discrete and desired forms. This idea was the basis to an earlier feud, the Bordes-Binford Debate, between Bordes and Lewis R. Binford. While Bordes posited that various facies of the Mousterian, defined typologically, were the result of different cultures, Binford maintained that each of the facies was functionally defined. Dibble's theory, by implying that stone tools as discovered by archaeologists are the result of a constant process of use and reuse and that what is excavated is often at the end of a long and complicated use-life, forced a reexamination of the entire debate.


As of 2007, Dibble is director or co-director of three ongoing projects: excavations at the cave of Roc de Marsal [http://www.oldstoneage.com/rdm/] , Campagne, Dordogne, France since 2004; excavations at the Grotte des Contrabandiers (Smugglers' Cave) [http://www.oldstoneage.com/smugglers/] in Témara, Morocco since 2006; and the Abydos Survey for Paleolithic Sites [http://www.oldstoneage.com/abydos/] in the high desert surrounding Abydos, Egypt since 2001.

Additionally, he has directed or co-directed projects in France continuously since 1987, beginning at Combe-Capelle Bas [http://www.oldstoneage.com/cc/] in the Couze Valley, Dordogne, France from 1987 to 1990. This was followed by work with his former Ph.D. student Shannon J.P. McPherron at Cagny-l'Epinette [http://www.oldstoneage.com/cagny/] , Somme, France from 1991 to 1994 and Fontéchevade [http://www.oldstoneage.com/fonte/] , Charente-Maritimes, France from 1994-1998. Just prior to excavating Roc de Marsal, Dibble and McPherron reexcavated Pech de l'Azé IV [http://www.oldstoneage.com/pechiv/] , where Dibble had worked with Bordes in the 1970s, from 1999 to 2002.

A major push of Dibble's research program has been to reexcavate known and previously excavated sites using modern methodology. This has been done in conjunction with reanalysis of the old lithic collections, and, when combined, these allow comparison between the old and new collections. The comparison illuminates what was kept and what was discarded by the previous excavators, giving new life and interpretive value to the older and generally much more biased collections.

Computer Applications in Archaeology

Dibble and McPherron have developed several freeware computer applications for the Windows OS to facilitate archaeological fieldwork, including NewPlot (an archaeologically-specific GIS program), EDM-CE and EDM Windows (data collector programs for use with Total Stations for Windows Mobile and Windows respectively), and E4 (data collection program for artifact analysis). Their system has been adopted by a number of other excavators throughout North America, Europe, and Africa, and they have published extensively on these methods.

External links

* [http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~hdibble/ Homepage] - University of Pennsylvania Faculty
* [http://www.sas.upenn.edu/anthro/faculty.html Faculty Profile] - University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology
* [http://www.oldstoneage.com Old Stone Age] - archaeological research group run by Dibble and McPherron
* [http://www.oldstoneage.com/software.htm OSA software] - freeware for archaeological excavations and analysis developed by Dibble and McPherron
* [http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/2902neanderthals.html Transcript] - Nova's "Neanderthals on Trial", in which Dibble is interviewed
* [http://pech.museum.upenn.edu/ "The Story of Pech IV"] - from the Penn Museum website
*imdb name|2430460

Selected Publications


*Dibble, H.L., D. Williamson, and B.M. Evans. 2003. "The Human Evolution Cookbook." Philadelphia: University Museum Press. ISBN 1931707499

*McPherron, S. and H.L. Dibble. 2001. "Using Computers in Archaeology: A Practical Guide." New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing. ISBN 0767417356

*Debenath, A. and Dibble, H.L. 1994. "Handbook of Paleolithic Typology: Lower and Middle Paleolithic of Europe." Philadelphia: University Museum Press. ISBN 0924171235


*Dibble, H.L., S.J.P. McPherron, P.G. Chase, W.R. Farrand, and A. Debénath. 2006. Taphonomy and the concept of Paleolithic cultures: The case of the Tayacian from Fontéchevade. "PaleoAnthropology":1-21.

*Dibble, H.L., and S.J.P. McPherron. 2006. The missing Mousterian. "Current Anthropology" 47:777-803.

*Dibble, H.L., P. Goldberg, S.J.P. McPherron, A. Turq, and D. Sandgathe. 2006. "Humans, climate and fire at the Mousterian site of Roc de Marsal, France," in "Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America". Philadelphia, PA: Geological Society of America.

*Olszewski, D.I., H.L. Dibble, U.A. Schurmans, S.J.P. McPherron, and J.R. Smith. 2005. High desert Paleolithic survey at Abydos, Egypt. "Journal of Field Archaeology" 30:283-303.

*McPherron, S.J.P., H.L. Dibble, and P. Goldberg. 2005. Z. "Geoarchaeology" 20:243-262.

*Dibble, H.L., U.A. Schurmans, R.P. Iovita, and M.V. McLaughlin. 2005. The measurement and interpretation of cortex and lithic assemblages. "American Antiquity" 70:545-560.

*Dibble, H.L., T.P. Raczek, and S.J.P. McPherron. 2005. Excavator bias at the site of Pech de l'Azé IV, France. "Journal of Field Archaeology" 30:317-328.

*McPherron, S.J.P., and H.L. Dibble. 2002. Using computers in adverse field conditions: Tales from the Egyptian desert. "The SAA Archaeological Record" 3:28-32.

*Dibble, H.L., P. Chase, S. McPherron, and A. Tuffreau. 1997. Testing the Reality of a "Living Floor" with Archaeological Data. "American Antiquity" 62(4):629-651.

*Dibble, H.L. 1995. Middle paleolithic scraper reduction: Background, clarification, and review of the evidence to date. "Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory" 2:299-368.

*Dibble, H.L. 1991. "Local Raw Material Exploitation and its Effects on Lower and Middle Paleolithic Assemblage Variability," in "Raw Material Economies among Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers, University of Kansas Publications in Anthropology". Edited by A. Montet-White and S. Holen, pp. 33-47. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas.

*Dibble, H.L. 1988. "The interpretation of Middle Paleolithic scraper reduction patterns," in "L'Homme de Neandertal Volume 4: La Technique". Edited by L. R. Binford and J.-P. Rigaud. Liège: Etudes et Recherches Archéologiques de l'Université de Liège.

*Chase, P. G., and H. L. Dibble. 1987. Middle Paleolithic symbolism: a review of current evidence and interpretations. "Journal of Anthropological Archaeology" 6:263-296.

*Dibble, H.L. 1987. The interpretation of Middle Paleolithic scraper morphology. "American Antiquity" 52:109-117.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dibble (name) — Dibble is a surname that may refer to: Andy Dibble (born 1965), Welsh professional footballer Ansen Dibell (1942–2006), American science fiction author C. W. Dibble, football coach of University of Buffalo in 1897 Charles E. Dibble (1909–2002),… …   Wikipedia

  • Harry Lewis (disambiguation) — Harry or Harold Lewis may refer to: * Harry S. Lewis (1861 ?) English Jewish author and communal worker * Sinclair Lewis born Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) American author * Harry Lewis (boxer) (1886 1956) American boxer * H.H. Lewis, Harold… …   Wikipedia

  • Pech de l’Azé — Die prähistorische Fundstätte Pech de l Azé liegt im Gemeindegebiet von Carsac im französischen Département Dordogne. Ihre vier Fundstellen sind von großer Bedeutung für die Erforschung des Altpaläolithikums und des folgenden Mittelpaläolithikums …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • David G. Anderson — (born 1949) is an archaeologist in the department of anthropology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who specializes in Southeastern archaeology. His professional interests include exploring the development of cultural complexity in… …   Wikipedia

  • Levalloistechnik — Levalloiskern mit Abfall Kernstein und Absc …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Qafzeh — Lage: Israel Geographische Lage: 32° 41′ 18,7″ N, 35° 19′ 4,8″ O …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Grotte Marcel Clouet — Coordonnées 45° 42′ 30″ Nord        0° 20′ 45″ Ouest …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hugh Herbert — Dans Dames (1934) Données clés Naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • 1990 World Series — Infobox World Series Expanded year = 1990 champion = Cincinnati Reds (4) champion manager = Lou Piniella champion games = 91 71, .562, GA: 5 runnerup = Oakland Athletics (0) runnerup manager = Tony La Russa runnerup games = 103 59, .636, GA: 9… …   Wikipedia

  • Série mondiale 1990 — La Série mondiale 1990 était la 87e série finale des Ligues majeures de baseball. Elle a débuté le 16 octobre 1990 et opposait les champions de la Ligue nationale, les Reds de Cincinnati, aux champions de la Ligue Américaine et champions en titre …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”