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2022-07-31 08:13:03   •   ID: 2343

Single Component Sites and the late Mousterian in S/W-France

Figure 1
Figure 1: An early Middle Paleolithic Handaxe from the Bergerac Region, Figure 2: Cordiform MTA Handaxe from the Bergeracois and Figure 3: Two Mousterian Points from the Type Station of the Mousterian: Le Moustier.

More than 40 years ago L.Binford wrote: "Viewed from the perspective of a living system, an occupation can be defined as the uninterrupted use of a place by participants in a cultural system.

The material consequences of an occupation represent a document regarding an organizational aspect or phase of operation of the cultural system under study (Binford 1981)". Binford in his systematic aproach basically differentiated between single and multiple component (Palimpsest) sites.

Sites having evidence for only one occupation are called single component sites. Such sites are rare and invaluable to archaeologists because the inevitable data bias that a multi-layer site introduces through post-depositional modification can be avoided.

More stratigraphically complex sites are called multicomponent sites. Components are often identified by the presence of particular industries, the association of particular artifact types, or by horizon markers.

Figure 2
Archeological paradigmatic for single component / single stay-sites is still the Maastricht-Belvedere complex in the Netherlands, with multiple in-situ sites, embedded in fine-grained fluvial sediments containing fully temperate faunas, most probably attributable to MIS 7.

TL dates suggest an age between 250–290 k.a. Some of the sites (for example Site C) display Levallois technology, while at others (for example Site K) most of the knapping is from discoid cores. An extensive full account of this groundbreaking large-scale rescue excavations can be found here: Maastricht-Belvedere

Due to policy of a Preventive Archaeology in rich Western European countries, the number of single component Sites has increased significantly during the last two decades, and this Post briefly describes important lessons that can be learned by these sites about the Late Middle Paleolithic in S/W France.

What are the hallmarks of a Single Component Site ?

  • Stratigraphic evidence of a brief human presence at the site

  • Spatial pattering; refitting and rejoining of artifacts

  • Evidence of a specific material economy

  • Evidence of a specific technological system

  • Evidence of specific artifact transport patterns

  • Figure 3
    Courbin et al. have recently reported about a late Middle Paleolithic site with these characteristics in S/W-France: Bout-des-Verges (Bergerac, Dordogne)where large-scale investigations were carried out (Courbin et al. 2020).

    They were able to demonstrate the simultaneity of an in situ artifact concentration that was based on a bifacial scheme associated with a Levallois Chaine Operatoire and two smaller concentrations based on a unifacial scheme and discoid production.

    The analysis of raw material units, refittings and conjoinigs played a crucial role in evaluating the raw material economy and the techno-typological systems on the site. The majority of discoidal products were exported for future use, while the imported bifaces and Levallois scrapers with longer use-lives were transported multiple times by Neanderthal groups (Courbin et al. 2020).

    By the way, this finding can help to resolve the old question: What was the last Mousterian in S/W France? The question may be wrong and the answer more ambiguous than expected.

    Depending on the site function and other even important factors it may be sometimes a MTA with a Levallois or Discoid Chaine Operatoire or an unifacial Discoidal Middle Paleolithic....

    Resources and images in full resolution:

    2022-07-18 07:47:13   •   ID: 2341

    A Middle Pleistocene Handaxe from the Valle Giumentina /Abbruzo / Basilicata / Italy

    Figure1 ; Wikimedia Commons
    The Abruzzo, situated in the center of the Italian peninsula and today with over one-third of its territory protected by the government is considered one of Italy’s greenest regions.

    Characteristic of the region are the wildernesses of the large national parks (Gran Sasso, Majella, Sirente Velino as well as the National Park of Abruzzo).

    The originality of the landscape is unique and will immediately enchant you.

    Where else in Europe can you see animals like the brown bear, wolves, chamois, fallow deer as well as lynxes and otters.

    The area encompasses deep river valleys and karst plateaus and presents a great morphological and altitudinal variety (from 130 to 2793 m).

    The sea, the hills and mountains are the three most constitutive elements of this landscape.

    During the coldest periods of the Ice Age, the Adriatic Sea was transformed into a wide plain with grazing Herdes of animals, created by the sinking of the sea level, reaching as far as today's Croatia.

    During Middle Pleistocene warm episodes, even middle altitudes up to 1500 m were part of the habitable oecumene (Negrini; personal communication 2018).

    Figure 2
    Figure 3
    Figure 2 and 3 show the dorsal and ventral Sides of a rather crude ("Abbevillian") Handaxe, made from local high quality Flint, from the Valle Giumentina, a Middle and Upper Pleistocene open-air archaeological in-situ site located in central Italy (Abruzzo), on the Adriatic side of the peninsula in a deeply incised Valley (Foto courtiously by W.Hernus).

    First Excavations were carried out in the 1950s by A. M. Radmilli and J. Demangeot and revealed in total nine stratified levels of human occupation and thousands of lithic artifacts in good preservation. This observations were confirmed gross modo by Nicoud et al. recently.

    The long stratigraphy of the deposit (more than 25 m thick) and the convincing Archeological sucsession finally helped to establish Valle Giumentina as an essential reference of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic of the Abruzzo Region, Italy and even Europe.

    The excavations of Valle Giumentina revealed the frequentation of the inner Apennine by early Neanderthal human groups, between approximately 300 and 40 k.a. BP.

    According a culture historical interpretation and due to the long lasting and exceptional influence of G. Laplace on Italian researchers the lithic industries were initially attributed to the "Acheulian", "Clactonian" (Figure 4) and "Mousterian". More about the Person of George Laplace can be found here: LAPLACE

    Of course, from today's point of view, these entities were abitrary and characterized by the idea that they were linked to different populations.

    These groups were defined mainly by the presence or absence of Handaxes (a typological trait) and by a Levallois/non-Levallois dichtomy (a technologic trait).

    Handaxes were present in in level 37 and therefore diagnostic for an Acheulian. On the other hand tools on thick flakes in levels 20, 24, 30, 33, and 42 were supposed to be of Clactonian origin and the Levallois flakes and scrapers in the upper levels 45 and 46 were supposed to represent a genuine Mousterian.

    Recently, technical studies have shed more light on the complexity and therefore the fragility of these cultural ensembles.

    Figure 4
    However, they still reflect the multiplicity of technical expressions of Early and Middle Paleolithic Hominins over the entire Italian Peninsula and are currently interpreted by landscape, raw material procurement based and functional approaches.

    During the last years renewed excavations refined these earlier observations by conducting: „a high-resolution pluridisciplinary study of the sequence (sedimentology, micromorphology, bioproxies, tephrochronology) and dating techniques (Ar/Ar, ESR, OSL).

    Six levels of volcanic ashes have been found. Results depict an evolution of the Valle Giumentina basin in four phases, from a lake environment to its drying.

    Eleven archaeological layers have been identified, in both glacial and interglacial periods, during stable environmental conditions (soils).
    (Villa et al.2026).

    Further contributions already presented the preliminary results of the ongoing excavation of Layer 42- ALB incorporated within an ancient paleosol: "This is a paleosol located at 4 m depth, at the top of a lacustrine deposit directly below the coarse deposits associated with the last major erosive event. Faunal remains consisted essentially by Cervus elaphus. The lithic series is characterized by a specific flake production system: only a part of the block is reduced, and platforms and surfaces are not prepared. Several methods are used, including the SSDA are frequent.

    Numerous blanks are transformed by intensive or marginal retouch. Functional objectives are multiple, as shown by different tool structures and use-wear traces. Valle Giumentina 42-ALB is a butchery site used brie"y but frequently during warmer substages occurring during an overall cold period. The “Clactonian” industry of Valle Giumentina is often considered as simple or expedient: we demonstrate its real technical complexity and its func- tional signi!cance. Comparisons are made with other European sites"
    (Nicoud et al 2016).

    Certainly we will hear more from this exciting site during the next years…..

    2022-06-25 08:11:48   •   ID: 2337

    Life History of a Scraper from Troyes La Champagne

    Figure 1
    Figure 2
    Figure 3
    This is a large simple unifacial Middle Paleolithic scraper-(10,5x6,2x2 cm) made by a non Levallois technique from a local blue / black Jurassic Flint, now deeply patinated.

    The artifact is characterized by an elongated thick flake, in which the maximum thickness has been reduced unilaterally by a “Retouche écailleuse scalariforme“.

    This „Quina Retouche“ is best seen from the dorsal side, exhibiting a reworked, convex cutting edge (Figure 1 and 2).

    Looking at the ventral side in Figure 3 we notice, that the bulb of percussion has been carefully removed and that basal parts of the flake carry scalariform retouches while the simple discontinuous contralateral retouches are likely to be post-depositional as indicated by their double patination.

    In addition, several (Janus)-flakes from the ventral side have been removed before the tool has been abandoned. Now the piece of worked as a core.

    About different techniques of these „flaked - flakes“ -see here: 1286 .

    The distal part of the artifact shows a truncation. This „Kostenki“-end is the result of initial preparation steps before the detachment of Janus flakes.

    All the characteristics point to an artifact with a complex life-history, those function may have been manifold and changing over time.

    Genuine Quina scrapers were usually made on cortical transversal flakes and often lacked striking platform preparation- more information about the issue is to be found here: 2290

    In contrast, I suggest that the tool shown here, was rather made by a Discoidal and not by a Quina chaîne opératoire.

    The artifact was found by a local collector decennia ago at Troyes La Champagne, capital of the department of Aube, in France.

    So far, only isolated Paleolithic implements have become known from the urban area of Troyes.

    Techno-Typologically the piece presented here is mainly embedded within the local Middle Paleolithic of the Aube Region- See: 2183 during MIS 4/3 and reminiscent of the Middle Paleolithic in the Upper Rhone Valley with its rich findings 400 km in the south (Slimak 2008).

    Suggested Reading:

    Slimak L. D. 2008 – Artisanats et territoires des chasseurs moustériens de Champ Grand. Aix-en-Provence

    Surf the Blog: here: 1455 ; here: 1649 and here: 1554

    Provenance: Collection P. Vabre

    Resources and images in full resolution:

    2022-06-05 18:50:29   •   ID: 2336

    Data Bias in Palaeolithic Archaeology

    Figure 1
    Figure 2
    Figure 3
    Figure 4
    Figure 5
    Figure1-5: These are several Artifacts from the Le Moustier Type Station at the Vezere in the Perigord Noir near Les Eyzies- See: 2102 , 2242 and 1277

    Except the tool in Figure 4 and 5, showing a heavily reworked scraper on a Pseudolevallois point, all items are coming from Peyrony's own collection and are said to be characteristic for the MTA assemblage from Layer G (MIS3) with a TL-Date of 50-55 k.a. BP.

    Figure 6 shows a historical photograph with Peyrony at a stratigraphical section of the lower Abri. He points to the thick stratum which he called „Mousterian de Tradition Acheuleen“ (MTA).

    Based on the Excavations at the lower Abri at Le Moustier, In 1920, D. Peyrony proposed to distinguish the MTA with bifaces from the „classic" Mousterian“ (Peyrony 1920).

    The distinction between Bifaces from the Acheulian and Mousterian assemblages of the MTA in Europe has mainly been established by the shape and volumetric appearance of Handaxes: thick Bifaces, Ficrons, lanceolate, micoquian, amygdaloid or elongated as well as elongated cordiform Bifaces being more frequent in the Acheulian, while thin cordiform and isoscelic triangular Bifaces with biconvex cross-sections being characteristic of the MTA (Bordes 1961).

    The definition of Mousterian of Acheulean tradition is based on the recognition of two tools that take on the status of fossiles directeurs: Bifaces and retouched back knives, almost absent from other late Mousterian facies (Mellars 1996).

    Fancois Bordes also defined an evolution from MTA-A (many Bifaces and some backed knifes) to MTA-B (small number of Bifaces, higher number of backed knifes and "Upper Paleolithic" tools) on the basis of a limited data base of excavated ensembles: Pech-de-l’Azé I and IV, Le Moustier, and La Rochette.

    The contour of the Bifaces also led him to propose an internal evolution within the MTA type A from industries with numerous large triangular bifaces to industries with dominantly cordiform bifaces (Bordes 1961).

    However, most assemblages assigned to the MTA-B are either derived from old excavations and suffer from clear recovery biases (Abri Audi, La Rochette, layer H at Le Moustier) or are too small to properly evaluate their composition (Abri Blanchard, Quincay).

    For years there was a broad consensus, that the MTA-B evolved further to the Chatelperronian, an opinion that was questioned only recently- see 1246

    As a scientist, I have given all PhD students the task to always ask themselves which data biases occur in their work and are to be expected in already available older Publications. And I have also always asked myself the same question.

    Against the background of the re-evaluation of classical Paleolithic sites in the Perigord, especially of Le Moustier, La Ferrassie, Combe Capelle and Combe Grenal I would like to briefly describe the many biases of Prehistorians and those of my own perception.

  • Selection biases occur when looking at samples that are not representative. It occurs by selective excavating only "Index Fossils" and by insufficient excavating techniques-e.g. by avoiding wet sieving, non-recording of the orientation of artifacts or incorrect labelling of tools.

    Prominent examples are known from D.A.E. Garrod‘s Excavations at Mt. Carmel, from A. Rust‘s Excavations at Jabrud or from Rieck‘s Excavations of the Vogelherd Cave and of course from the early excavations of Peyrony in the Perigord- The Dibble Group and French Researchers did a lot to revise these biases.

    Extrapolation of the Archeological Record of S/W- France to other remote regions remains a Problem in European Prehistory which could be termed: Geographical Selection Bias

  • Confirmation bias: Scientists see what they already believe, and leave feeling more convinced that their views are supported in reality

  • Historical Bias: Historical data bias occurs when socio-cultural prejudices and beliefs are mirrored into systematic processes. This is the problem with every Paradigm in Prehistory, for example a Cultural Historic, Ethnographic driven, Structuralistic or (Post)- Processual Approach

  • Availability Bias: Availability of data has a big influence on how we view the world. The now famous Spears of Schöningen, the Aurignacian art from the Swabian Jura were ignored for a long time, being available only in German language.

    While important and high quality data from Chinese Archaeologists are increasingly published in English and in high ranked Journals, Russian Scientists often seem still not to have arrived in the current discourses, mainly by their outdated approaches and communicating even important results in Cyrillic

  • Framing Bias: When presenting information, people present the data in a way that highlights only aspects that support their approach while they play down the aspects not fitting into their methodological thinkings. This kind of Bias is more common in Journal papers than in complete monographs, where the results have to be discussed in all aspects

  • Funding bias may lead to the selection of excavation results that favor a study's financial sponsor. It is precisely this bias that is difficult or impossible for outsiders to assess and scientific networks play an important role

  • Figure 6
    Related to the construction of a succession of MTA-A to MTA-B, a combination of biases play a role, that have already been described and criticized here: 1246 , here: 2102 , here: 2242 and here: 1277 .

    We never can escape data biases in the end, but should always be aware of their existence and try to avoid them as much as possible.

    To a avoid biases in the evaluation of the European Middle Paleolithic I personally suggest, that grouping lithic findings under “ techno-typological Complexes” is an outdated concept.

    High resolution data from the last decennia do not support the paradigm of an invariable and constant association of specific lithic artifacts: On the contrary the data speak in favor of a techno-typological continuum that is the consequence of a versatile adaption of Neanderthals according to socio-economic and geographic and climatic conditions, based on a pool of a common "savoir faire".

    Suggested Reading:

    Harold L. Dibble, Shannon J.P. McPherron, Paul Goldberg et al.: The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV; 2019

    Harold L. Dibble et al.: The Middle Paleolithic Site of Combe-Capelle Bas; 2012


    Peyrony Collection

    2022-06-01 16:31:44   •   ID: 2335

    The Late Solutrean at Pech de la Boissière

    Figure 1
    Figure 2
    Figure 3
    Figure 4
    This is a 6,2 cm long, paper thin Shouldered Point from the Vicinity of the Pech de la Boissière Site near Sarlat in the Dordogne / France. It shows the traits of Smiths`"sous Type A", characteristic for a Solutreen final and also known from the Upper layers at Fourneau du Diable- see: 2308 .

    The Point was found at "Sarlat" and therfore at or in the vicinity of the Pech de la Boissière site. Pech de la Boissière is located in the commune of Carsac, 7 kilometres south of Sarlat and some 100m from the more famous Pech de l‘Aze sites. Located on a small rocky outcrop at the base of a limestone cliff facing south, it dominates the bottom of a narrow valley crossed by the road from Sarlat to Gourdon and the railroad line from Bordeaux to Aurillac.

    The site was already visited in the 19th century and was already mentioned by Mortillet to feature Solutrean layers. Early explorers, amateurs and merchants, destroyed the central part of the site - unfortunately a normal process at these times.

    In 1928, the state rented the intact part and the site was given the status of a national monument. Already in April 1929, Elie Peyrony carried out the first programmed works.

    In his publication he reported, "The work was carried out for the first time in April 1929 over a period of two weeks. First, a trench was started in the center of the site, at the point where the first investigations had taken place, perpendicular to the rock and 3 m in front of the vertical of the Vault.

    At 5.5 m from the ground, we encountered a barrier that formed a kind of wall, 1.2 m high, where the archaeological deposit ended. During my work I noticed that this construction completely closed the shelter, forming a kind of well protected chamber
    " (My own translation).

    I suspect that the wall dates back to historical times, like a similar structure at Fourneau de Diable - see: 1626 . However, the limitation of the find layers to the parts of the site lying within this structure is quite striking.

    Peyrony described a 1,1 m thick black stratum with Solutrean, followed by a Magdalenian, about 0,15 m thick. Everyone who knows the excavation methods of the time, can assume with some certainty, that the allegedly uniform Solutrean consists of more than one layer. Beside, this is also apparent from Peyronies own description of the site.

    Peyrony noted, that Shouldered Points were scattered throughout the 1,1 m of the level, associated with Laurel Leaf points and some pointes à face plane. According to the excavators, Laurel leaves were mainly abundant in the lower part of the Solutrean level, became progressively rarer towards the top, and disappeared finally almost completely. This observation fits to the general trend during the late Solutrean in S/W-France.

    Doubts about a correct separation of layers arise not only by the reported abundance of backed bladelets in the Solutrean Stratum, because they were generally more characteristic for the Magdalenian, but also by the illustration of a Noailles burin, "micro-saws" and a Burin Type "Bec de Péroquet", which were claimed come from the Solutrean layer.

    Maybe we have to face a Noaillian below the Solutrean and the possibility that Magdalenian tools moved down into the Solutrean layers by taphonomic processes.

    Figure 5
    The Point of this Post resembles the Solutrean shouldered point with abrupt retouch, which is by far the most common hunting tool at the end of Solutrean in France.

    Its morphological and volumetric variability permitted a large variety of hafts with the intention of creating composed projectiles (Ibáñez et al. 2017, 2019).

    A deeper technological analysis of late Solutrean shouldered Points from Placard (Charente), Fourneau du Diable, Pech de la Boissiere and Combe-Saunière (Dordogne) was published by Geneste and Plisson (2018; see attached files).

    The authors described the shouldered points from Boissiere as "Mediterranean type points, with very little notch and slightly curved support, rarely retouched on the lower side“ (My Translation).

    The tang of the point, shown here, was made by an almost backed retouche and shows an additional and very limited retouche contralateral on the ventral side.

    In addition, Marginal retouches are present near the tip on the dorsal side of the artifact. Geneseste and Plisson described many isolated tangs from Pech de la Boissière, with the stigmata of impact and secondary breakage.

    Figure 5 shows a page from Smith's seminal Publication with quasi identical points from the site in the upper row No 3 and 4. Such implements point to a much needed high functional efficiency of weapons, maybe as a part of advanced composite projectiles during the harsh environments of the LGM.

    The miniaturization was possible necessary to adapt the tool to the requirements of changing methods of propulsion (most likely bow and arrow).

    Finally, the Morphology of the Point seems to envisage the "desolutreanization" phenomenon, or loss of flat retouch, and a return to the Gravettian traditions that were firmly established in the Epigravettian East of the Rhone axis and the Iberian Peninsula.

    Suggested Readings:

    Solutré : Jean Combier (Ed). Volume du 150e anniversaire; 2016.

    Le Solutréen 40 ans après Smith’66. Tours : Fédération pour l'édition de la Revue archéologique du Centre de la France, 2013. 480 p. (Supplément à la Revue archéologique du centre de la France, 47)

    Philip Smith: Le Solutreen en France. Bordeaux: Imprimeries Delmas, Memoire no. 5; 1966.

    Surf the Blog: here: 1473 , here: 1642 , and here: 1600


    Most Probably Peyrony Collection- via Collection of Van den Dries

    2022-05-22 09:39:10   •   ID: 2334

    On the Move: The Early Upper Paleolithic in Europe -Part II

    Plate 1: Partial Topography of Europe from ESA; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO license
    Figure 1
    On the Move: The patchy Archeological record of the Initial and Early Upper Palaeolithic in Continental Europe, shown by its lithic signatures is the theme of the post.

    Archeology: Between 50-40 k.a. BP, new Palaeolithic Industries appeared, with no forerunners during the European Middle Paleolithic.

    In this post, inventories comparable to the Near Eastern Emirian are referred to as IUP. Figure 1 shows a typical Bohunician Blade from Ondratice in Moravia. It has the characteristic Y- Pattern, a facetted base and was produced from volumetric (fully Upper Paleolithic) cores of this entity.

    Inventories of the European "Proto-Aurignacian," are understood here as a continuation of the Ahmarian from the Northern Levant while the Early Aurignacian, in the strict sense, was most probably rooted in Europe. Both Entities are referred to as EUP. However the distinction between Proto-Aurignacian and Aurignacian as separate Entities is debatable (see below).

    Figure 2 displays the strong similarity between straight Bladelets / Lamelles of the Levantine Ahmarian (Figure 2a from Kebara / Mt. Camel in Israel) and the (Proto)-Aurignacian (Figure 2b from Les Cottes / Vienne; France).

    The sudden emergence of new Paleolithic industries in Europe is most parsimoniously explained by multiple arrival events of Modern Humans.

    However the differentiation between effects of migration, technological convergence and demic diffusion remains a challenge for researchers to assess.

    Archeologically; the common lithic denominator of the earliest Upper Paleolithic remains a technique that relied on both Blade and Bladelet technologies in the production of innovative (multicomponent) hunting projectiles. In particular, the production of bladelets can be very variable. In principle, however, they occur with varying frequency in all industries, but they differ in their chaîne opératoire.

    Figure 2 a and b
    This post is the Continuation of the last one about the European Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition - See: 2332 and addresses regions and routes that modern Humans probably took, when settling Europe during climatically unstable times of OIS 3, roughly between ca. 50-40 k.a. - evidenced either via direct finds of H. Sapiens remains in situ and / or by IUP / EUP inventories sensu lato.

    Statistic methods make it possible defining fossil H. Sapiens remains on the basis of morphological characteristics and distinguish them from other Species. They can be also used to define the probability of the presence of archaic traits on a fossil using morphometric techniques, based on an always increasing sample of Hominins.

    Molecules and Genes: At best, the extraction and sequencing of ancient DNA can help to classify a paleontological find within the human phylogenetic tree. This was the case at Oase (Romania) and Bacho Kiro (Bulgaria), (Jones et al. 2015, Hublin et al. 2020).

    Palaeoproteomics is a rapidly growing field in which proteomics-based sequencing technology is being used to identify species and evolutionary relationships of extinct taxa.

    Proteins exhibit single amino acid polymorphisms (SAPs) between hominin taxa. These SAPs result from nucleotide substitutions in protein-coding genes and lead to variations in the protein sequence of amino acids, so that these amino acid variations facilitate phylogenetic analysis.

    This approach has been used, for example, to identify Denisovian and Neanderthal remains by identifying different SAPs in bone protein. An overview can be found here: proteomics

    Absolute Chronology: Despite recent advances in Molecular Archaeology, reliable absolute and relative dating methods remain still the backbone of any good Paleolithic Archeological research.

    The Radiocarbon method (AMS; Pretreatment; Calibration; Baysian statistics) up to 50 k.a. still remains the most important technique for the Middle / Upper Paleolithic transition. However the application of Radiocarbon still becomes increasingly delicate beyond 40 k.a.- more information-See here: 1717

    Figure 3
    Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) is a process in which a pre-irradiated (exposed to ionizing radiation) material (usually quartz sediment) when subjected to an appropriate optical stimulation, emits a light signal proportional to the absorbed dose.

    The measured dose in the Lab comes from the natural radioactive isotopes in the soil in which the quartz crystals were embedded, namely Potassium-40 and Uranium and Thorium isotopes with their subsequent radioactive decay products.

    Before incorporated into the soil, quartz crystals eventually remained on the earth's surface for a certain time and were exposed to sunlight. These Sun bleached crystals were zeroed of any previous luminescence signal before their re-embedding into newly formed sediments.

    The light signal of the re-embedded crystals under optical stimulation in the Lab is proportional to the time that elapsed after re-embedding. If the dose-Rate of the sediments is constant, adequately measured and known, the accumulated dose is a function of time.

    During the last years the OSL Methodology has left behind many difficulties at the beginning, but remains charged with some uncertainties.

    Furthermore, the technique does not allow direct dating of an organic archaeological probe, but only indicates the age of its embedment.

    A dramatic volcanic eruption surpassing anything known in the historical record took place in central Italy 39 k.a. BP. It is known as the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption, which was followed by the cold Heinrich 4 climatic oscillation.

    Atmospheric circulation carried clouds of ash all over the eastern Mediterranean, and the products of the eruption reached regions as distant as southwestern Russia.

    The nature of these ash deposits allows this event to be very accurately dated. It also has a distinctive chemical signature that can be recognized, even when the ash is invisible to the naked eye in sediments (Hublin 2012).

    The Tephra from the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption is an important signature for itself and helps crosschecking the age estimates of other procedures (Isaia and Orsi in Fedele et al. 2013).

    Figure 4
    Relative Chronology: Stratigraphically the Chatelperronian is always to be found below the Proto-Aurignacian and Aurignacian. The Proto-Aurignacian ("Aurignacian 0", "Fumanian") is always below the Early Aurignacian. The Uluzzian is always to be found below the (Proto-) Aurignacian (see earlier Posts).

    There is no stratigraphically proof that Middle Paleolithic was interstratified with truly Upper Paleolithic Industries like the Châtelperronien, (Proto-) Aurignacian, Bohunician, Uluzzian or Bachokirian.

    The IUP: The European implements have their counterparts in the Levantine IUP / EUP- See: 1494 , as demonstrated by Skrdla, Bordes, Teyssandier, Tostevin, Shindrang and Israelian Scientists. Figure 3 displays a pointed Blade from Northern Bulgaria, near the Bacho Kiro cave.

    Their morphology is still reminiscent of elongated Levallois points, from which they are originally derived, although they were made from Upper Paleolithic, often bi- or unipolar crested cores. The IUP is defined primarily by the method of blade production, involving hard hammer percussion and platform faceting resulting in blades and cores with a Levallois-like appearance (Kuhn 2019).

    Two European lithic industries fit the definition of the IUP; the Bohunician, found in Moravia and southern Poland with beginnings around 48 k.a. and the Bachokirian from Temnata cave and Bacho Kiro (Bulgaria), the latter recently dated to ~47–44 k.a. Cal BP. ( Kuhn and Zwyns 2014; Tostevin and Škrdla 2006).

    Anyhow, by far the largest sample of an IUP, widely identical with the Moravian Bohunician, is known from the open air site of Kulychivka in the transkarpartic Western Ukraine.

    Level IV yielded more than 600000(!) artifacts and was recently dated around 45-40 k.a. CalBP (Koropetskyi et al. 2021).

    These European manifestations of the IUP are restricted to eastern and east-central areas of the continent, with no known IUP assemblages further north or west (French 2021).

    The Bachokirian Assemblages are characterized by:

  • Use of flints which come from sources up to 90 and 180 km northeast of the cave
  • Blades and Bladelets produced in continuity
  • High number of retouched tools (mainly pointed Blades) while Levallois Points are rare
  • High number of Bone Tools and Ornaments

  • the Bohunician Assemblages are characterized by:

  • Use of local raw materials which come from nearby sources. Imports from more distant sources: max. 10%
  • Blades and Bladelets produced in continuity; Bladelets rare at many sites, but in abundance present at Ořechov IV – Kabáty
  • Low number of retouched tools (mainly elongated Levallois-like Points, Endscrapers, some Leafpoints)
  • Bone Tools and Ornaments are missing in the Archeological record maybe by a taphonomic bias

  • Visual Information about the Lithics at Bacho Kiro and the Bohunician are to be found here: Bacho Kiro Tools / Bohunician Tools

    The Neronian:The Rhone Valley and its tributaries host several localities of the "Neronian". In the Mandrin cave L. Slimak reported a layer, interrupting a sequence of a late Mousterian strata with special characteristics.

    Here hundreds of small elongated Levallois-like points were found, morphologically similar to Early Ahmarian points from Ksar Akil and associated with teeth of H. Sapiens. Many of them were used as projectiles according to the traceological observations (Slimak et al. 2021).

    Figure 5
    In my view, there are still too many unanswered questions about the site - see: 2307 to argue for an incursion of H. Sapiens during early MIS3, as Slimak would like.

    Provided that the still open questions are clarified, one could probably speak of the currently earliest EUP / IUP of Europe.

    The Châtelperronian Enigma: There is nothing new to report about the Châtelperronian. A critic appraisal can be found here: 1492 .

    The Early Aurignacian: The early Aurignacian, as defined from the Aquitaine Archeological record, shows a different Chaine operatoire compared with the IUP: The “ideal” blade (i.e., that which will be used as a tool blank) is large and, above all, wide and thick; its profile is often curbed, and remnants of cortex often remain.

    In contrast to the IUP of Europe, preforming of cores tends to be minimal: crests are rather uncommon, and not well made. The single striking platform is rejuvenated through the removal of thick core tablets.

    The removal of blades is often executed through direct soft hammer percussion, using an organic hammer. Facetted or spur butts predominate. The size of blade cores does not vary with raw-material: blade production stops as soon as the length falls below 8-10 cm, at which time the width of blanks is of 2-3 cm.

    Figure 6
    Heavy retouching of Aurignacian blades is common, maybe a consequence of thick blanks and intended for better hafting (Figure 5-8).

    Bladelets occure in various frequencies and usually represent curved or twisted debitage. Organic Points were common at sites with adequate conservation of organic remains.

    Figure 4-6 displays typical Aurignacian samples from the Perigord (Figure 5: Combe Capelle), Central Europe (Figure 6: Swabian Jura / Kleinheppach) and the Middle Dnepr region (Figure 7). Note the "Aurignacian Retouches" on most of the artifacts.

    The Proto-Aurignacian: D. Peyrony (1934) had described an industry, which we today call Proto-Aurignacian above a Chatelperronian and below an early Aurignacian layer in La Ferrassie (Dordogne). L. Pradel (1961) found a similar Ensemble in the same stratigraphic position in Les Cottes (Vienne) a "Lense Correzien" below an “Aurignacian ancien”.

    With the deconstruction of the concept of two independent "phyla" in the Perigord, namely the autochthonous "Perigordian" (today: Châtelperronian and Gravettian) and an allochthonous "Aurignacian", an ignoring of the assemblages of the Proto-Aurignacian was accompanied. One spilled simply the baby out with the bath.

    Figure 7
    Since the 1960ies the entity was re-introduced again, with new sites and collections. It was Laplace during the 1960s, who once again turned the spotlight on an "archaic Aurignacian”. Subsequently this Entity was found in Northern Spain (Ekain, La Viña, Morin, Labeko Koba and Arbreda); Mediterranean France, the greater Aquitaine and the Pyrenees (Isturitz, Barbas III, Les Cottes, Piage, Tuto-de-Camalhot, Esquicho-Grapaou, Louza, Mandrin, Trou de la Mère, Clochette and Observatoire); Italy (Mochi and Bombrini at Balzi Rossi, La Fabbrica, Castelcivita), Eastern Austria (Hundssteig site in Krems), at the Margins of the Carpathian Basin (Românești-Dumbrăvița I GH3), several sites in the Ukraine, the Middle Don region (Kostenki 14) and Crimea (Siuren 1).

    In multilayered sites this Entity is always found below the „Classic“ early Aurignacian and first appeared before the CI- Eruption (before 39 k.a. Cal BP). It is generally suggested that the Proto-Aurignacian was made by incoming H.Sapiens populations(Banks et al. 2013, Teyssandier et al. 2010).

    Depending on different Research traditions the Entity was called „Aurignacian 0“, „Archaic Aurignacian“, "Fumanian", "Aurignacian of the Krems - Dufour type" and Proto-Aurignacian“.

    Figure 8
    Typologically the hallmarks of this industry differ from the Aurignacian sensu stricto. Blades are more delicate, that their thick Aurignacian counterparts. The invasive Aurignacian Retouche is virtually absent.

    Contrary to the Aurignacian, the most common Blank and Tool class in the Proto-Aurignacian are Bladelets, which often outnumber all other artifacts and comprise up to 80% of the ensembles. The Bladelets are larger than those, seen during the Aurignacian, and are often retouched contrary to the often unretouched items of the Aurignacian (Figure 9 from Les Cottes).

    Lamelles during the Protoaurignacian and the Aurignacian in S/W-France are highly diversified and have not only chronological,but also ecological, economical and paleo-ethnological meanings.

    They can be classified by the several dichotomies: Large vs small; straight vs. slightly curved vs. twisted; tipped vs. non-tipped. Of importance are also their retouches (ventral, dorsal, alternate, marginal vs. semi-abrupt).

    Large Lamelles Dufour (subtype Dufour) with straight or only slightly curved profile and around 30–45 mm long were preferably made during the Proto-Aurignacian, while small Lamelles Dufour (subtype Roc-de-Combe with a twisted profile and around 15-20 mm long) are usually ascribed to the Aurignacian.

    In contrast to the Aurignacian, however, is the deliberate retouching of these small- to medium-sized bladelets into a series of highly distinctive “lamelle Dufour” and “Font Yves” forms, usually shaped by means of fine, semiabrupt retouch (Falluci et al. 2028.

    Technologically, in the Aquitaine the signature of the Proto-Aurignacian is said to be embedded in the production of blades and bladelets within a single and continuous stone knapping sequence. Both products are thus obtained from the same core as the result of its progressive reduction.

    Figure 9
    The Aurignacian on the other hand shows a dissociated production, that means that there were two independent chaînes opératoires to produce blades and bladelets. The bladelets were usually detached from carinated and nosed cores.

    However, this model does not apply to other regions. The "Aquitaine Model", which was exemplified only for a small region, is not valid for more distant areas, where we observe a techno-typological simultaneity of elements from the Proto-Aurignacian and Aurignacian in their original definition. This has become clear above all by the works of Falcucci et al.; Tafelmayer et al. ; and Gennai 2021.

    It seems quite possible, that the Aurignacian 0 and 1 are not defined Entities in the cultural-historic sense, but more complex adaptive manifestations based on a common technological repertoire (Tafelmayer 2007).

    By the way, this holds also true for other Upper Paleolithic entities, that one may not simply transfer the findings of S/W France uncritically to other regions. Nevertheless, prehistorians have been stepping into the same trap for 150 years. That's how powerful research traditions are....

    Early Homo sapiens in Europe: Here I will briefly list the early H. Sapiens remains in association with the respective find horizons.

    Such an association of AHM-remains with an IUP / EUP is all the more likely for an authorship of the lithic ensemble by H. Sapiens if:

  • a burial with largely preserved skeletal remains is present
  • a taphonomically undisturbed layer is present
  • a valid dating of the skeletal remains and other organic remains in the same stratum is present
  • Ancient DNA could be isolated from skeletal remains

  • Figure 10
    However, the situation is rarely ideal. Often only small skeletal fragments are found, which are naturally more susceptible to dislocation from other strata above and below. Sometimes we are dealing with old, poorly documented excavations. In most of the cases ancient DNA could not be isolated. It has to be pointed out, that beside the Bacho-Kiro case, the association often remaines insecure and unequivocal.

    The Châtelperronian is associated with Neanderthal fossils at Saint-Césaire (Level EJOP sup) and Grotte du Renne (Levels VII, IX, and X) (Hublin et al. 2012).

    The earliest directly dated European Homo sapiens fossils are the fragments from Bacho Kiro ca. 46,7-42,8 k.a. cal BP, associated with Bachokirian (Hublin et al. 2020), followed by the Oase 1 mandible from Peştera cu Oase, without associated industry, at about 42–37 k.a. calBP.

    The Homo sapiens incisors from Riparo Bombrini and Grotta di Fumane are the only known fossils in direct association with Proto-Aurignacian material (Benazzi et al. 2015).

    The Uluzzian is associated with Homo sapiens at Grotta del Cavallo (Layer E) (Benazzi et al. 2011)

    The Classic Early Aurignacian was associated with remains of H. Sapiens remains at La Quina-Aval and at Brassempouy.

    Later stages of the Aurignacian, which post-date the last known Neanderthals, were found in direct association with Homo sapiens fossils at multiple sites- e.g. Mladeč (Wild et al. 2005); Cioclovina (Kranioti et al. 2019); Les Rois (Ramirez Rossi et al. 2009). Figure 7 displays artifacts from the "Aurignacien recent" at La Rochette; Dordogne.

    The Eastern and Central European route: The Eastern Route along the Carpathian arc seems to be of great importance for the initial Dispersal of H. sapiens during MIS3, while the route across the Iron Gate into the Pannonian Plain obviously did not play a major role, most likely due to unfavorable climatic conditions in this region. Thus the Lower Danube corridor possibly rather acted as a barrier during MIS3.

    However the hilly terrains and mountain slopes at the margins of the Carpathian Basin are clearly areas where Upper Paleolithic sites in general and Aurignacian sites in particular are found, either in situ or as surface lithic artifacts scatters (Demidenko et al 2012).

    Demidenko recently gave an overview of the Proto-Aurignacian sites in question: Krems-Hundssteig in Lower Austria, north-western corner of the (Pannonia) Basin; Romanesti-Dumbravita I and II, Cosava, and Tincova in the Romanian Banat and Crvenka-At in the Serbia Vojvodina's Banat, south-south-west of the Basin; Berehove I and Berehove II-VII and Muzhievo 1-5 surface find spots in the Ukrainian Transcarpathia, and the site of Tibava in Eastern Slovakia, north-western corner of the Basin.

    It was early recognized, that Palaeolithic sites in the Banat, (especially Tincova - near the important Oase Cave, Coşava and Româneşti- Dumbrăviţa), in south-western Romania bear among other Entities a „Krems-Dufour type Aurignacian“ (Mogoşanu 1972, Hahn 1970, 1977; Demidenko 1999, Demidenko & Noiret 2012, Demidenko er al. 2020).

    However, it was considered surprisingly young in archaeological terms until recently - an assessment that seemed implausible given the state of present-day research. Several working groups have revisited these sites as part of renewed interest in the region under the "Out of Africa-2" hypothesis (Sitlivy et al. 2014, Chu and Zeeden 2016, Anghelinu 2012, Floss and Fröhle 2016, Demidenko et al. 2012, 2016, 2020).

    Chronologically the (Proto-) Aurignacian in the Banat and other parts of East Europa can now be placed with reasonable justification into the time period preceding Heinrich event 4 (HE-4) and the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) eruption. However, it must be pointed out that the absolute dating is essentially based on the data from Românești-Dumbrăvița I GH3 and Kostenki 14.

    In Eastern Europe, the Entity appears much more variable than in the Aquitaine. (Sitlivy et al.2012, Demidenko et al. 2012, 2016,2020).

    It bears a clear blade and bladelet debitage character with either a continuous blade and then bladelet reduction within one and the same core reduction system or separate blade and blade/bladelet, and bladelet core reductions.

    These technological features are connected to the several presence of blade, blade/bladelet cores and bladelet ‘carinated’ cores with, at the same time, some occurrence of wide-fronted carinated endscraper – cores, a few nosed/shouldered end- scraper – cores and a near-absence of carinated burin-cores, explaining the availability of nume- rous on-axis and flat and/or slightly incurvate in profile Dufour sub-type bladelets/microblades with alternate and/or ventral retouch
    (Demidenko et al. 2020).

    In this context, it was recently possible for the first time to generate settlement patterns for the Proto-Aurignacianon, indicating a complex system for a site-clusters in Berehove I and Berehove II-VII and Muzhievo 1-5 (Ukraine) with a base-camp and and several sites-satellites; according to a logistic/foraging/ radiating mobility system (sensu Binford).

    West of the Pannonia Basin, Early Aurignacian Ensembles are known from Lower Austria and S/W-Germany, and follow the Danube in its middle and upper course. I have already reported about the Aurignacian cluster in the Middle Danube Region around the City of Krems and the Wachau in earlier posts-See: 1194 and 1717 .

    In my view the presence of a Proto-Aurignacian at the multilayered site of Krems-Hundsteig can not reasonable contested. Moreover, I have not yet given up hope of that residual layers of this Entity enclosed in vast loess accumulations north of the original site will be excavated.

    The early Date for initial Aurignacian at Willendorf II AH3 is now generally accepted (ca. 43,5 k.a. Cal BP) and represents another example of an early Presence of H. Sapiens in the Middle Danube Region.

    Several important Aurignacian levels have been excavated in Swabia since the early 20th century, especially in the Lone and Ach valley, both tributaries to the Upper Danube-See: 1347

    Geißenkösterle AH3 is now dated to 42- 43 k.a. CalBP for the start of the Aurignacian, prior to the Heinrich 4 cold phase. In addition, the Hohlenstein Stadel Aurignacian (Find spot of the Lion man) was recently re-dated to 40 k.a. cal BP.

    Table 2: Balzi-Rossi Site Cluster; Courteously by Thio Parg
    The Italian EUP Record: In principle, an incursion of H. Sapiens into Italy via the Adriatic Plain and/or the Rhone Valley would be possible. Unfortunately, the temporal resolution of the C-14 data is not sufficient to generate a temporal gradient based on the numerous in-situ sites.

    The most important Proto-Aurignacian sites clusters are to be found at the Balzi Rossi-site complex in the region of Liguria (NW Italy)-See- 2309 , where it has been identified in multiple levels at the sites of Riparo Mochi and Riparo Bombrini and in the Grotta dei Fanciulli. A second cluster is located in N-Italy.

    In Northern Italy the Entity is present at the Grotta Fumane, layers A2-D3, situated in a tributary valley of Valpolicella, on the western Lessini and at Riparo Tagliente, located a few km Eastwards of Fumane, along the Valpantena.

    The Protoaurignacian in the Venetian Prealps is dated between 42 and 41 k.a. CalBP. Most sites are located near the entrance of wide valleys, close to the adjacent plain, at altitudes generally lower than 400 m. Similar age estimates are known from the Balzi Rossi site-cluster.

    Roll-Back via the Aurignacian to the Levant? Figure 10 shows a classic Aurignacian Blade from one of the Carmel caves. The Levantine Aurignacian sensu stricto, is identified by ensembles that encompass thick and carinated scrapers, strangled blades with lateral retouches dihedral and truncated burins, Dufour bladelets (some twisted, some incurvated), and (small) el-Wad points.

    Bone tools, if present, include points and awls, and split base points, which are so well known from the European Aurignacian.

    The best documented non-calibrated Radiocarbon dates for the Levantine Aurignacian sites like Manot scatter around 34-38 k.a CalBP - clearly more recent than the (Proto)-Aurignacian of Europe and the Ahmarian at Kebara.

    It should be pointed out that the European "Aurignacian” is rich in tools on blade and bladelet blanks as well as blade/bladelet cores, while in the Levant, the local Aurignacian is considered primarily as a flake-based industry.


    Collections Levenstein, Perseke, Meller, Popov, Bachmayer (NHM / Austria), Reinhard and Halm.

    Suggested Readings:

    J.C French: Palaeolithic Europe (Cambridge World Archaeology); 2022 - A wonderful book that will give you an update on hot topics in Paleolithic Archaeology - Buy!

    The more you know, the more you know you don't know (Ascribed to Socrates)

    Thomas Litt; Jürgen Richter; Frank Schäbitz (Eds): The Journey of Modern Humans from Africa to Europe; 2021

    Jiri Swoboda et al. Dolní Vestonice-Pavlov: Explaining Paleolithic Settlements in Central Europe (Peopling of the Americas Publications) 2020

    Resources and images in full resolution:

    2022-05-20 10:16:53   •   ID: 2332

    On the Move: The Early Upper Paleolithic in Europe -Part I

    Plate 1 from ESA; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO license
    Figure 1
    Figure 2
    Figure 3
    Figure 1-3 show Blade and Bladelet blanks, aside with a narrow fronted core from Kebara Cave (Israel), suggestive for an early Ahmarian.

    Figure 3-5 displays three slightly curved unretouched Lamelles Dufour (Dufour subtype) from Pataud (Dordogne; France) and Les Cottes (Vienne; France), along with a corresponding carinated core, traits of an Aurignacian sensu lato.

    The spread of the Upper Paleolithic led through the Levant over the Balkans and the East European Plain to Central and South Europe and was most possibly linked to the spread of Homo Sapiens, some of them had mated with Neanderthals, shortly before their arrival in Europe.

    Waterways, either along the Danube and / or along the the Mediterranean cost may have played a crucial role in the process.

    These are the findings of the last decade although there were certainly other routes of AHMs that remain to be evaluated, regarding that our ancestors were earlier present in Asia than in Europe- a rather marginal „cul de sac“ in Human Evolution.

    Archeologically; the common lithic denominator of the Upper Paleolithic remains a technique that relied on both a blade and a bladelet technology in the production of innovative multicomponent hunting projectiles.

    If the desired blank was a flake, upper Palaeolithic ensembles may be defined by their systematic use of backed Lunates, a technology that was totally absent during the European Middle Paleolithic.

    In my opinion, this picture will not change much. The archaeological, paleogenetic, paleoanthropological and chronological evidence fits too well. In addition "Big data“ processing and complex Modelling algorithms became more important and point to the same direction.

    This Blog has already reported about the evolution of the the Initial and Early Upper Paleolithic (IUP / EUP) in the Levant - see here: 2237 .

    The Post and the following one are focused on possible routes from the Levant to Europe and on signatures of the earliest Upper Palaeolithic in Europe shortly after its appearance in Continental Europe.

    The Archeological record of the initial and Early Upper Palaeolithic is patchy. For the critical time frame between 50-40 k.a. BP, findings were preserved only under specific conditions especially in Cave sites (Bacho Kiro, Fumane, Caves in the Swabian Jura) or sealed in mighty Loess Deposits (Brno Area, Wachau).

    I try to avoid transferring regional findings to geographically distant areas. Since the toolkit of a local group was certainly modified within just several generations and innovations got even lost from time to time, local assemblages should be used very cautiously to draw conclusions about distant regions.

    As I have already argued before, I do not use the Ash tray term "transitional industries" -see: 1603 -My position has emerged because this term implies that the regional continental Middle Paleolithic evolved several times gradually into an Upper Paleolithic entity - for which there is no good evidence, except perhaps for the Szeltian in Moravia.

    Furthermore, I remain sceptical about associating technocomplexes with certain human species. Anyhow, a link between AHM migration and the appearance of IUP/EUP assemblages in Europe remains the most parsimonious hypothesis.

    However, the influence of the Neanderthals on the development of the Upper Paleolithic remains unclear. Theoretically, one can assume a mutual acculturation between AHMs and Neanderthals which was certainly manifold. All historical examples support this idea. Acculturation is never unidirectional.

    Figure 4
    Figure 5
    Figure 6
    If we base the idea of an association of Lithic ensembles with specific human remains, then the evidence of AHM-remains in association with an early Ahmarian at Ksar Akil (Lebanon) provides the only key witness in the debate. However, the find was made about 70 years ago with outdated excavation techniques.

    In Europe reliable associations between AHMs and the Initial / Early Upper Paleolithic are still rare, but increased during the last years (Grotte de Mandrin: Neronian 57-51 k.a.; Bacho Kiro: Bacho-Kirian - ca 46 k.a., Grotta del Cavallo: Uluzzian ca 45 k.a. / All dates in calendar years).

    An indisputable association between AHMs and Upper Paleolithic industries exist only for the time after the final Neanderthal Extinction.

    Automatically relating Initial or Early Upper Paleolithic inventories to Homo sapiens is rather unscientific. Further East this approach is even more problematic, as recently noted by M.Kot (2022).

    Orography: South-Eastern Europe can be imagined as an enormous plain bounded by the Carpathians to the North and East, the Dinaric Alps to the West, by the southern arc of the Carpathians to the South and finally by the Balkan Mountains to the far South - see here: Orography

    The Dinaric Alps are a mountain range in Southern and Southeastern Europe, separating the continental Balkan Peninsula from the Adriatic Sea. They stretch from Italy in the northwest through what is now Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo to Albania in the southeast.

    The Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc across Central and Eastern Europe. Roughly 1500 km long, it is the third-longest European mountain range after the Urals at 2500 km and the Scandinavian Mountains at 1700 km.

    Today the Carpathians stretch from the far eastern Czech Republic (3%) and Austria (1%) in the northwest through Slovakia (17%), Poland (10%), Hungary (4%), Ukraine (10%), Romania (50%) to Serbia (5%) in the south. The highest range within the Carpathians is known as the Tatra mountains in Slovakia and Poland, where the highest peaks exceed 2600 m.

    People, traveling on foot, starting at the Marmara region, who want to avoid the troublesome mountainous regions, to finally enter Central and West Europe, would probably reach the Continent through the Thracian Basin and the lower Danube plain near the today's Town of Varna and the Dobruja.

    Afterwards, they could travel without great difficulties to transcapatic territories into today's Moldavia and Ukraine and would get access to the vast East European Plain.

    Alternatively they could cross the southern Carpathian arc along the Danube River and reach the Great Pannonian Plain this way.

    The Pannonian Plain (also Pannonian Basin or Carpathian Basin) is an extensive lowland plain in south-central Europe, crossed by the middle course of the Danube and the lower course of the Tisza.

    The basin lies largely in Hungary, but six other states share in it. Geologically, it is related to the (much smaller) Vienna Basin and the mountain formation of the Carpathian Arc. Interestingly, the Carpatian basin was not a primary settlement area during the IUP / EUP, with the exception of its "Hilly Flanks" like the Bükk Mountains.

    However the hilly terrains and mountain slopes of the Carpathian Basin are clearly areas where Upper Paleolithic sites in general and Aurignacian sites in particular are found, either in situ or as surface lithic artefacts scatters (Demidenko et al 2012).

    Via the Danube and its tributaries, Pannonia has several transects to today's Moravia and Slovakia. The Moravian Gate gives easy access to the North European Plain via the Oder River.

    Over the Viennese and Korneuburg Basins located in the middle course of the Danube in today's Lower Austria can be reached, with the settlement-favorable areas along the Danube between Krems and Willendorf in the Wachau with a dense settlement cluster already during the Aurignacian.

    Heading West, and after overcoming the Dinaric Alps our Wanderers would gain connection to the Adriatic Plain. By the way, the number of still existing pass routes is more impressive than I have ever imagined - See here: Passes in the Dinaric Alps

    During certain cold/dry phases of the Late Pleistocene (for example the LGM), a crossing of today's Adriatic Sea would be possible already at the height of the Gargano Peninsula and people would have arrived at the costal plains of the Italian peninsula.

    The Padan Plain or Val Padana is a major geographical feature of Northern Italy. It extends approximately 650 km in an east-west direction, including its Venetic extension not actually related to the Po river basin; it runs from the Western Alps to the Adriatic Sea.

    The flatlands of Veneto and Friuli are often considered apart since they do not drain into the Po, but they effectively combine into an unbroken plain, making it the largest in Southern Europe. The Padan Plain and the Po river basin as well as sites in the the karstic Venetian Fore-alps allow the access to Liguria and Southern France and finally the Rhone Valley. During the IUP / EUP Paleolithic exactly this route seems to be of major importance.

    In principle, an incursion of H. Sapiens into Italy via the Rhone Valley would also be possible. Unfortunately, the temporal resolution of the C-14 data is not sufficient to generate a temporal gradient based on the numerous in-situ sites.

    Of course, the immigrants did not necessarily follow the proposed route because other factors influenced their behaviour.

    These include microclimatic conditions, the game densities of specific regions, the availability of drinking water, the presence of already established AHMs or Neanderthal populations, pass routes through mountains and river fords, and raw material sources for lithic and non-lithic production, to name just a few.

    Major landscape features were likely an important issue and a key element in the navigation of AHMs, entering new and unknown regions.

    Of course, a reconstruction of "inner maps" is not possible, but I assume that ideology and religion had a non-negligible influence on migratory movements.

    Part II will ask for evidence for the migration of people and ideas on the basis of selected finds - See: 2334


    Levenstein and Perseke Collection

    Suggested Readings:

    The more you know, the more you know you don't know (Ascribed to Socrates)

    Ed.: Thomas Litt; Jürgen Richter; Frank Schäbitz (Eds): The Journey of Modern Humans from Africa to Europe; 2021

    Jiri Swoboda et al. Dolní Vestonice-Pavlov: Explaining Paleolithic Settlements in Central Europe (Peopling of the Americas Publications) 2020

    2022-05-16 09:34:17   •   ID: 2331

    A Quina scraper from Germond-Rouvre (Deux-Sèvres) and the Paleolithic of the Seuil du Pointou

    Figure 1
    This is a classic simple Quina scraper from Germond-Rouvre (Deux-Sèvres), some 80 km North/East of the Quina site of Saint-Maixent-l'École, already introduced in the Blog Ems where- see: 1634 . This site was destroyed during construction work in the 1950ies with Archeological permission (sic!). According to a Quina Chaîne opératoire the scraper of this post was made from a second generation partial cortical elongated blank.

    Located in the Seuil du Poitou, a rich corpus of typical Lower and Middle Paleolithic artifacts from the surface without stratigraphic context, is known. More about the Geographical Region, I am talking about- see here: Seuil du Pointou

    Through an orographic map it becomes immediately apparent that the region allowed early Hunter-Gathers to move through the landscapes in all compass directions.

    Basically, the Seuil du Poitou is a geological denomination for an area in western central France where the Paris (Northeast) and Aquitaine (Southwest) sedimentary basins meet, and which also is a gap between the ancient mountain ranges Massif Armoricain (Northwest) and the Massif Central (Southeast). It occupies only a small part of what is now the Department of Poitou-Charentes. The large classic Charentien sites are located further South- see 1469 and 2290

    Situated to the south of Poitiers, the area is the drainage divide between the Loire, Charente and Sèvre basins and a border between different climatic zones.

    Most of the Seuil du Poitou lithics were discovered until the 1950ies by farmers after ploughing or by collectors looking at their feet while moving. At the best these implements were the subject of articles in local history magazines. Georges Germond and Marcel Bizard have revealed some private collections that are not without interest. Anyhow without context, they remain useless for Science.

    Figure 2
    The poor yield of stratified sites can be explained by the lack of a regional loess cover, missing abris and caves, absence of fine grained fluviale sediments and by the structure of the river terraces, which are more difficult to date, than those in Northern France.

    However, both intact Acheulian and Middle Paleolithic sites have been detected and excavated with up to date methods.

    Londigny is the first open air Acheulian industry, found in situ, 70 km South/East of Germond-Rouvre and dated by TL to MIS 11 (ca 400 k.a.). The site is located on a Jurassic limestone plateau dotted with small sinkholes at the Seuil du Poitou.

    It was discovered in 2011 and excavated in 2012 (Connet et al. 2020). An age of 400 k.a. was rather supprising, because in the Aquitanian Basin further south, the earliest Acheulian is still dated not earlier than MIS 9- but this maybe an artifact of research history.

    Interestingly the Londigny Acheulian is a "classic" Lower Paleolithic, as defined for N/W-France. Simple Hard Hammer shaping of Flint nodules by bifacial Faconnage was observed in the Production of Handaxes.

    Simple debitage techniques were also prevalent in the Production and Processing of flakes, that did not show characteristics of any prepared core production.

    The authors believe that the raw material did not have a decisive influence on the production of the bifaces and that unlike the "Acheulian Meridional" in Aquitaine, the ensemble belongs to a N/W European "Interaction Sphere".

    For me, the matter remains quite ambivalent - Ultimately, the hypothesis of a stable "tradition" over decades of thousands of years leads into an area for which historical experience is lacking.

    A middle Paleolithic occupation site has been detected at Saivres – La Terrière by an INRAP-Team, which is mainly characterized by a Levallois Mode of Blanks, transformed to Points and Scrapers. (Fourloubey- 2009).

    The older non-professional literature also reported surface finds that could be assigned to an MTA and a Quina Mousterian. However, no excavations have been carried out so far that could verify these entities in situ.

    Thus, we are left with a peculiar frustration that only a few meaningful and datable Middle Paleolithic finds have been made so far at what was certainly an important junction between Northern and Southern France....

    Provenance: Collection Ampoulages (FR)

    Resources and images in full resolution:

    2022-05-11 10:02:23   •   ID: 2328

    Bifacial Neolithic Pic from Hardivilliers/Troussencourt

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    At the southern limits of Picardy, on the chalky plateaus overlooking the sources of the Noyé River, significant Neolithic stations exist.

    Four principal workshops, already described by Mortillet in the 19th century, are located in the immediate vicinity and to the west of Breteuil-sur-Noye (Département Oise). Three of them are located near Hardivilliers and the fourth in the Troussencourt area.

    These four workshop-stations have great similarities with each other, as well as with the Spiennes mining area. The lithic tools are almost identical: large rough-outs, enormous masses of flakes of all sizes, few finished pieces of more modest sizes, rare polished flints and no imported hard rocks.

    Finally, in these stations, the raw material is identical: black flints from the underlying Senonian, in fairly flat chips, sometimes in plates.

    The best comparisons can be found on the flint mines of Nointel and Hardivillers (Oise district; Dijkman 1980; Agache 1959) and the Ressons flint mine seems to match the standard Picardy mining sites exploiting Cretaceous levels through small shafts with chambers or short galleries (Bostyn et al. 2018).

    The non polished, 10 cm long, Bifacial Neolithic Pic shown in Figure 1 - 3 is from an excavated Hardivilliers workshop-site known as Les Plantis and was found early in the 20th century.

    M.-C. Cauvin (1971) described Pics as "tools that are all elongated and pointed (with a thick point)" and classified them into two" families": "bifacial picks and flat-faced picks being the two fundamental categories".

    Beside from the (African) Early Stone Age, Pics are especially abundant from the Middle and Late European Neolithic at Mining sites, manufactured by people exploiting both the ground and the underground.

    They were part of sedentary farming communities, who- probably in the Wintertime, beginning with the earliest Neolithic excavated tunnels and shafts underground in order to obtain fresh and easier to work flint. A dense network of production sites stretched across the French North and Belgium with the most abundant site of Spiennes - see: 2089

    The presence of miners on the same site could then extend over several hundred years or even several millennia. The mines were specialized sites that are distinct from the places where people lived.

    However, we should not forget that underground mining had at these times already a long tradition - It is first documented during the Late Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic (OIS5-3) in the Nile Valley.

    What is called a Neolithic Pic in Europe is a solid tool, more or less roughly retouched, about ten to thirty centimeters long, with one or two pointed ends.

    The bifacial Pic is produced like an axe from a block or a large flake and has one or two pointed ends. It usually is characterized by a quadrangular cross section.

    Unifacial Pics have a plain ventral side, which is flat or slightly arched and may be retouched or not. Its cross-section is triangular or trapezoidal, with retouching made preferably on the dorsal sides (J-L Piel-Desruisseaux 2007).

    The bifacial Pic from Hardivilliers / Troussencourt, shown in this post has the typical white patina of this area. Anyhow, we notice a double (or better: tripple) patina on one apical (pointed) side, which indicates that the implement has been resharpened during work.

    This fits well to its size, which is in the lower normal range, indicating several cycles of rejuvenation. During initial faconnage, fluting techniques were used, usually known from Clovis or Folsom Projectiles in Paleo-America (Figure 3).

    Regarding that the end -products for export were more or less finer rough outs of non polished axe-heads, a pic at a workshop site always indicates that this piece was not intended for export, but used to break the surface limestone layers to get to the very homogeneous flint at depth (Agache 1959).

    The relatively small dimension of the Pic of this post may explained by the need to use smaller and strong tools in the limited underground space. Such tools should remain "manageable“ in these difficult situations.

    To dig the chalk layers, to detach the flint blocks, two tools were usually used during the Neolithic: the flint Pic and the deer antler Pic. A very informative short review can be found in the fine book of Piel-Desruisseaux (6th Edition p. 194 and the following pages).

    Surf the Blog: 1738 , here: 1534 and here: 1736

    Provenance: Unknown later: Van den Dries

    2022-04-30 14:58:04   •   ID: 2326

    The Middle Paleolithic of the Gargano Promontory: Still a lot of Work to do....

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    These Artifacts were collected from a Surface scatter in the Gargano. They are made from excellent Gargano Flint and are of considerable size (up to 10 cm).

    About the Gargano Region see here: 1467 , here: 1683 and here: 1684 . For me the Gargano is one of my favorite places on earth, by any standard, an area of great beauty and variety.

    The use of Gargano Flint is documented since the local Acheulian, over the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, but reached it’s maximum in the late Neolithic.

    An archaeometric project, running since 1986, allowed the discovery of a large network of at least twenty mining sites, active from the Early Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age (Tarantini et al. 2013).

    All tools, even the Quina- like transversal Scraper in Figure 3 were made by a Levallois Chaîne opératoire. The Double Scrapers from Figure 1, 2, and 5, show scalariform retouches, while the Levallois-Point in Figure 4 has fine continuous marginal retouches. The platform of all artifacts is extensively facetted.

    In Figure 1 an exhausted centripetal Levallois core is displayed, the most common core-type from this site. Complete cores were absent, therefore I am unable to define to what extent the overexploitation of the cores may have altered their original volumetric structure (Some complete cores may have been discoidal).

    According to the French Terminology the Ensemble may represent a Ferrassie Type Middle Paleolithic- see here: 2265 .

    Most of the Middle Palaeolithic evidence of South Italy still lacks a reliable chrono-cultural framework mainly due to research history (see below).

    Anyhow progress has been made during the last years. Both the number of new sites, often with high-resolution stratigraphy, absolute dating approaches and techno-typological evaluations have significantly progressed.

    Several Chaine Operatoirs are known from the Mousterian of southern Italy: Firstly Different Levallois modes of production, which are quite late compared to other European regions and run from from MIS 5 (Riparo Paglicci level 1), over MIS 4 until MIS 3 were they were most commonly used.

    Quina Production is attested from MIS 6 and 5. Dicoid Techniques are characteristic for MIS 4 and finally Blade Ensembles, appeared late during MIS 3 (Aureli and Ronchitelli in Borgia et al. 2018).

    The Gargano promontory offered numerous Abris and Caves in a carstic environment for Neanderthals to settle. Multilayered Sites with excellent preservation of organic material are common.

    We can assume that a large number of Paleolithic sites were submerged on the coast after the last ice age and are waiting to be discovered.

    According to Sestini, the Pleistocene coastline was up to 15 m lower compared to the current conditions (Sestini 1999).

    During a visit of the region, about ten years ago, I noticed a lot of untouched Abris in the Foresta Umbra, never used for Agricultural purpose, with an enormous potential for successful prospection.

    The Middle Paleolithic is well represented in various stations such as Grotta Spagnoli and Grotta della Palombara in Rignano Garganico and Piani di San Vito in Monte Sant'Angelo, and were partially excavated after WW II.

    As far as I can judge, the descriptions and the concrete finds in the older literature on the Middle Paleolithic of these sites do not really fit together, so that many sites have to be re-evaluated.

    In general, I have the subjective impression that these inconsistencies are the result of a mixture of the methodology of Laplace and Bordes under the authority of Cesnola and have rather contributed to confusion than to enlightenment.

    However, a new generation of researchers now seems to have caught up with the international standards. Grotta Spagnoli is the only Middle Paleolithic site in the Gargano, that has been reevaluated and published so far.

    The Grotta Spagnoli complex is formed by two caves, a main one (Spagnoli A), easily accessible, and a secondary one (Spagnoli B), which is almost completely filled by a multilayered site.

    The excavations of Grotta Spagnoli B revealed three strata, homogeneous from a techno-typological approach.

    They are dated to MIS4 and show cores, that exhibit a Levallois concept, alongside with Discoid, and Kombewa techniques (Carmignani and Ricci 2017).

    The scraper and point-component was quite similar to the items, shown in this blog, while the absence of denticulates in the surface scatter of my collection may be explained by collection bias.

    Unfortunately, there is little published so far, that could contribute to a better understanding of the Middle Paleolithic in the Gargano. A large number of already excavated sites and new untouched abris and caves, as well as open air sites still need to be (re)-investigated in the with modern methods - a task for a lot of archaeologists to come.

    Proveniance: Collection Baronetti / Milano (IT)

    Suggested Reading:

    R. Vaufrey: Le paléolithique italien; 1928

    Arturo Palma di Cesnola: Le Paléolithique inférieur et moyen en Italie; 1996

    M. Mussi: Earliest Italy. An overview of the Italian Paleolithic and Mesolithic; 2001

    I. Borgia, V. and E. Cristiani (eds.): Palaeolithic Italy. Advanced studies on early human adaptations in the Apennine peninsula, 2018