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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
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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.

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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.

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.

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 Zadar (Croatia) and Rimini (Italia) and people would have arrived at the costal plains of the Italian peninsula.

The Padan Plain in Northern Italy and the Po river basin allow the access to Liguria and Southern France.

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

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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.

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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

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

2022-04-25 15:57:12   •   ID: 2325

Why waste too much energy in the production of a flechette?

Figure 1 Photo: Père Igor; Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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The artifact of this post is a typical Upper Palaeolithic Flechette (4 x 1,6 x 0,15 cm) from the Gravettian layers of the Fourneau du Diable site, already introduced in the Blog - see: 2308 .

Another post has already published about the wider history of Flechettes and the integrity of the “Bayacian” level at the Type Site at La Gravette - see: 1618 .

At La Gravette, Flechettes, made by a specific Chaîne opératoire, and were present within a first early Gravettian level, called Bayacian“. Here Flechettes were reported to be the only projectiles- an unique „anomaly“ in the structure of the Gravettian.

This level is quite different from the two following strata of a rich early Gravettian with Gravette points of all sizes, without Flechettes.

The regularity of the preforms „supports“) of Flechettes implies the application of a highly sophisticated operating procedure and a standardization of the production processes.

The Supports already show the final design of the finished tool, as demonstrated by Pesesse (2008). Such a Support, also made from Bergeracois Flint and found at the Abri Pataud site in Les Eyzies is shown in Figure 6 and 7.

In contrast to La Gravette, at Vigne Brun, another important Gravettian site, where Flechettes and Gravettian points were found in the same stratum- see: 1718 , the production of Flechettes was carried out in a technical and functional continuum between laminar debitage whose supports were intended for the tooling of a "fond commune", followed by the debitage of small blades and bladelets, finally transformed into extremely fine armatures (Pesesse 2008).

The strategy of establishing a final artifact design already during the core preparation, allowing that the final artifact requires only minor modifications, was widely used since the MSA / Middle Palaeolithic.

Convincing solutions of this principle are for example Levallois points, El Wad Points from the Levant, or the Willow leaf points of the Eastern European Swiderian -See 1613 , 1304 , 1646

The items shown here are made from typical Bergeracois Flint, which according to my own observations was preferably used for the production of these delicate implements in the Dordogne.

An Upper Paleolithic Flechette is defined as a more or less sublosangular foliated tool made on blade or bladelets.

It is elongated and thin and shaped by a direct or inverse semi-abrupt retouche, often confined to the ends. The finalised Flechette shown here has finely regular bilateral direct retouches, running over ca 1/3 of the apical sides (Figure 3-5) and completely fulfills this definition.

However, another piece from Pataud in my collection: 1618 is somewhat atypical, because the retouching on the left side runs the entire length and is almost backed. Anyhow it still falls into the wider definition of a Flechette. The right side, shows a marginal retouch only at the apical end, as it is typical for flechettes.

It was in 1931 that F. Lacorre described these pieces from his excavations at La Gravette (Couze Valley; Dordogne), under the name of "Armature de Flèche" or "Point de Bayac" (Lacorre, 1934). Figure 1 shows the deportable condition of the Type Site today (Courtiously by Don Hitchcock).

It remains an important dissertation of research to undertake new excavations at this important site.

Figure 2 shows a page from Lacorre’s Gravette-Monograph of 1960. This page gives a nice view on the variability of Flechettes.

In particular, there are quite smooth transitions from Flechettes to Gravette Points, which can be demonstrated on a piece from the Aggsbach site of my collection that, with the preservation of the foliated contour and by the application of abrupt retouches, combines the characteristics of the morphological design of both instruments see: 1374 , an observation already made by Delporte (1972).

H. Delporte (Delporte, 1972) and M. Otte (Otte, 1981) have each devoted a morphological study to this artifact, with 119 whole pieces from La Gravette and 441 pieces from the Aggsbach site (Lower Austria) respectively.

The main difference between the Flechettes at these two sites is the smaller size of the items at Aggsbach. While at La Gravette the length of the is between 4 and 6 cm, at Aggsbach it varies from 1,6 to 4 cm with a maximum of pieces around 3 cm. This difference maybe due to the specific raw material supply at both sites.

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Although these two authors did not exactly use the same criteria for description, it seems, that the frequency of the retouching focused on the apical edges is quite similar. The length of the artifact, shown in the post is within the range, known from the Perigord.

Flechettes during the Gravettian were rare compared with Gravettes. Why was a Flechette design abandoned during the Gravettian in favour to a Gravette design?

Was it easier to produce a Gravette compared to a Flechette?

Was the production of a Flechette wasted effort and time?

An answer to the questions could perhaps be found, by studying the the micro-region around the Vezere valley.

Here, preference for high quality raw material was similar for both artefact classes. From my purely subjective point of view, there was a preference for excellent local flint and raw material from the Bergeracois.

The effort in core preparation and secondary processing of the blanks should have to be clarified in comparison, not to forget to ask for the necessary individual skills and learning curves of experienced Knappers, in their production.

Finally, the efficiency, durability and recycling potential of both Projectile classes would have to be tested experimentally after determining the diversity of the possible hafting methods - Such a project could be planned for example under the overarching concept of the Optimal Foraging Theory.

The thinness of the flechette is quite unique in the Paleolithic. It is remarkable that in archaeological excavations, most flechettes are found as fragments - possibly the fragility of the flechette is a main reason for their rarity. Recycling was probably impossible...

Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT) has its origin in processualistic ideas in 1960s with traces back to the dawn of the archaeological science in the 19th century.

The OFT model is based on the construction of an individual’s food item selection understood as an evolutionary construct that maximizes the net energy gained per unit feeding time
(Malros 2012).

This theory, and the pros and cons for its application in Palaeolithic Archaeology will certainly inspire one of my future posts.

Provenience: Collection Bigot

Suggested Reading:

F. Lacorre: Les armatures de flèches de La Gravette. XVe Congrès International d'Anthropologie et d'Archéologie Préhistorique - Ve Session de l'Institut International d'Anthropologie, Paris, 20-27 septembre 1931

F. Lacorre: La Gravette, Le Gravétien et le Bayacien, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Laval; 1960

M. Otte: Le Gravettien en Europe centrale. Dissertationes Archaeologicae Gandenses, 20; 1985.

M. Otte: Le Gravettien en Europe, L'Antrhropologie, 89: 479-503.

A wonderful site to download free PDFs of Monographs from the "Collection les Mémoires de la SPF"

For this post Monograph 50 is of great interest. Here is the link: À la recherche des identités gravettiennes : Gravettian

2022-04-23 07:42:17   •   ID: 2324

Early Prehistoric Research at Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf (Haute Normandie)

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Figure 1 and 2: This is a 12 cm long, non Levallois Blade from the upper strata of Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf (Haute Normandie), found early in the 20th century. It could be of Middle Paleolithic (MIS5) origin. Both Levallois and "Upper Paleolithic-like" Chaîne opératoires in Blade production have been described in this Part of France, made by Neanderthals- see 1522 .

At Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf, in the Seine valley, four ancient loess soils are present, with four interglacial soils in between: Elbeuf I (Eemien; MIS5), Elbeuf II, Elbeuf III and Elbeuf IV (MIS11); (D. Cliquet 2013; D. Cliquet et al.2009; Leroyer and Cliquet, 2010).

After the recognition in 1859 of the validity of the works of Boucher de Perthes (1788-1868), the existence of Prehistory, was rather quickly admitted during the 1860s by a good part of the scientific circles, which encompassed both influential first professional Prehistorians and enthusiastic Laymen, which often came from the members of the clergy, although the Catholic Church in particular had strong reservations about prehistoric research.

In the region of Haute-Normandie, the direct participation of Abbé Cochet and Georges Pouchet in the events of 1859-1860, which finally led to the official recognition of the Somme Paleolithic, first described by Boucher de Perthes, undoubtedly favored the formation process of Paleolithic Prehistory (Remy-Watté 2011).

By the way: First Handaxes in the haute Normandy had already described as early as in 1863.

Among the main themes, during the early days of Prehistoric research, were the classification and dating of the oldest remains, based on a double reflection on the typology of artifacts and the study of site stratigraphy, in which the dominant influence of Gabriel de Mortillet became appearent.

It seems to be a quirk of history that the men (there were no women present) who were engaged in the Prehistory of the Normandy met for their third meeting in 1893 in Elbeuf.

The inaugural session of the "Société normande d'études préhistoriques" took place on May 28, 1893, under the honorary presidency of Gabriel de Mortillet, in the presence of 27 members of the École d'anthropologie de Paris, including Geoffroy d'Ault du Mesnil, whose work on the sites of the Somme led Mortillet to distinguish several Handaxe Complexes designated "Acheulean" and "Chellean" by him (M. Remy-Watté 2014).

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Of course, during the meeting the stratigraphy of Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf, exposed by gravel work, was visited.

Figure 3 (P.-J. Chédeville 1894) shows us a lithograph of the geology of the site, which is still important today and bears some of the oldest Paleolithic Findings in the fluviale deposits of continental North Europe.

A large Handaxe from the site, most probably from MIS11, has been described in an earlier post -see: 1595

Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf is situated 20 km south-west of Rouen (France; Haute Normandy) near an impressive and large meander of the Seine, where at its crest the 112 meters high chalk cliffs of Ovigal drawn by erosion overhang the valley. The imposant limestone cliffs are worth a visit.

During the Quaternary, the meandering Seine River cut into the chalky plateau of present-day Haute-Normandie, giving rise to hillsides on its concave bank, while the opposite bank, formed of alluvium, spread out in a gentle slope.

Near Paris, one of the most important Scientific Capitals in Europe during the 19th century, large quantities of mainly Early and Middle Plaeolithic artifacts were made downstreams at the Seine.

That concerns especially the suburbs of Paris (Levallois Perret) and several gravel pits around Rouen like Bondeville, as well as that of Evreux, Mantes-la-Jolie, St.-Pierre-les-Elbeuf and Oissel - see: 2258 , 2028 and 1152 .

Provenance: Collection Bigot (FR)

Resources and images in full resolution:

2022-04-18 07:44:35   •   ID: 2323

A Middle Paleolithic Bifacial KMG-like Scraper from Baiersdorf

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
This is a 13 cm long flat bifacial object, coming from and made from Baiersdorf Tabular Chert.

Baiersdorf is a large deposit for Plattenhornstein (Tabular Chert, "crusted hornstone") in the catchment area of the Altmühl valley (Bavaria). The Sesselfelsgrotte, with its famous Middle Paleolithic finds is only 4 kilometers away.

The typical Baiersdorf plates show two clearly different cortex states: One surface is almost smooth (Figure 1) and "soft" to the touch, the other is rough (Figure 2), which can be explained by the geological genesis of such plates. The colour of Baiersdorf chert typically varies between light gray to brownish gray or grayish brown.

This Raw material has already introduced earlier in the Blog- see 1376 . It is found in tablets with a thickness of up to a few centimetres, but most typically the plates used in prehistory are about 1 cm thick.

Indeed, the artifact shown here has some similarities with an already published scraper according to the Typological approach by F.Bordes, exhibiting a “Retouche écailleuse scalariforme” from the Charentian Stratum P of the Sesselfelsgrotte shown here: Scraper Altmühl-Valley

In principle, the artifact from a Central European context could be addressed as an atypical "Keilmesser"- at least conceptually: While one side is characterized by a repeatedly reworked bifacial cutting edge, the opposite edge is the result of a deliberate breakage leading to a „back“. It is clearly not a broken / damaged tool.

The use of tabular chert in South Germany during the Middle Paleolithic was rather rare, probably because during the Last Glacial, the deposits were inaccessible over several times.

However, it is relatively well represented in the G-strata complex of the Sesselfelsgrotte (Richter 1995) and in the Middle Paleolithic of the nearby Schullerloch, which has excavated long time ago and therefore any contextual informations about its mighty stratigraphy are lost for ever (Beck 2006). Bifacial KMG-like Scrapers and Keilmesser, similar to the artefact of this post are known from Schambach, most probably from MIS3 (Rieder 2016). Some isolated tools from tabular chert are also known from the Blattspitzen Kultur at the important Weinberghöhlen- see: 1157

"Keilberg-Kirche"(Regensburg) is an early Aurignacian, where Tabular Chert was used as raw material, among others (Uthmeier 1994).

Its use in the Altmühl Region and around Regensburg became more popular since the Gravettian. The whole Gravettian of the Sesselfelsgrotte was characterized by the working of tabular Jurassic chert (Weißmuller 1995). Tabular Chert was also an important component of the Gravettian at Salching, (Lkr. Straubing-Bogen).

Tabular Chert from different sources was even more intensively processed during the Neolithic, where it was sometimes mined in large quantities.

In particular the banded Tabular Chert "Type Abensberg-Arnhofen", which I already mentioned: see- 1285 was of large importance until the beginning of the Bronze Age and exported over larger distances, within a radius up to 300 km.

It achieved its highest popularity and distribution during the late Neolithic, around the middle of the 4th millennium cal. BC, and fulfilled exactly the requirements for the serial production of bifacial sickles (Elburg and Paul van der Kroft; 2022).

Tabular Chert can be very easily fractured. The thicker tablets are somewhat coarser and produce quite straight fractures, as demonstrated in the case shown in this post. Preparation of the broken edges is hardly necessary.

The retouches are easy to produce and due to their conchoidal character comparable to homogeneous flint of best quality

The Middle Paleolithic "end products", of South/West Germany, such as Keilmesser, Faustkeilblätter and flat Handaxes, are virtually preformed by their platelike character of the raw material, an observation that was already made during the 1950ies by Bohmers and Zotz.

Throughout the Paleolithic, we observe the phenomenon of a conscious selection of raw material that already had the shape of the deliberately produced stone tool 1460 and 2064 .

The use of Tabular Chert is not limited to the region discussed here. A good example from the Late Neolithic / Bronze Age of the Levant can be found here: 1645 ; (Zutovski 2016).

These posts clearly demonstrate the principle of selecting specially shaped geofacts for the production of specific artifacts, already fully developed already in the Early Paleolithic.

However, this principle is not a "conditio sine qua non". Even raw materials that initially appear completely inappropriate, can be shaped into the desired design using the Faconnage technique.

Homo sp. had already liberated himself from some natural preconditions - this was unquestionably a step that makes us human.

Suggested Readings:

Freund G: Sesselfelsgrotte I. Grabungsverlauf und Stratigraphie (1998)

K.H. Rieder: Der Hohle Stein bei Schambach - Neandertaler und Eiszeitjäger in der Altmühlalb; 2016

Weissmüller W: Sesselfelsgrotte II. Die Silexartefakte der Unteren Schichten der Sesselfelsgrotte. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des Moustérien (1995)

Richter J: Sesselfelsgrotte III. Der G-Schichten-Komplex der Sesselfelsgrotte (1997)

B. Cep: Das mittelpaläolithische Silexinventar des Bocksteins im Lonetal (Schwäbische Alb). Vielfalt der Formen oder Fortbestand einer technologischen Idee?; 1994

2022-04-14 09:34:20   •   ID: 2322

From humanity through nationality to bestiality (F.Grillparzer)

Figure 1
The title of the post is from the political conservative Austrian poet Franz Grillparzer - the most productive Austrian dramatic author of the 19th century. Franz Kafka adored him for his novel: "Der Arme Spielmann".

He early recognized the dangers of newly "constructed" Nations in his multi-ethnic motherland.

The consequences of the ethnicisation process, which was initially taken up mainly by intellectuals after the failed revolution of 1848 in Central and Eastern Europe, were the fact that the subjects of the Russian and Austrian emperors were re-defined and differentiated themselves into „Polish“, "Great-" and "Little-Russians", "Ukrainians”, “Ruthenians", „Germans“ and other „ proud, unique and incommensurable Nations" - with bloody consequences.

By the way: This process was otherwise driven everywhere in Europe by the formation of early prehistoric science. The ominous search for one's own "national identity" began and Prehiorians were on its forefront.

For a first short introduction to the consequences of this Nation building processes, I recommend with some reservations T. Snyder's book about the "Bloodlands" in Eastern Europe, between 1930 and 1950, although there are much better books on the subject, with a much wider horizon- (some of them are mentioned below).

Goyas Desasters of War: Figure 1 is a plate (Plate 36) from Goya’s series of 82 prints created between 1810 and 1820 about the Desasters of War. This graphic cycle begins with the famous plate: „The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters“.

The war between a French invading army and peasant Spanish guerrillas raged between 1808-1814. In Plate 36, Goya depicts a pensively gazing French soldier looking at a violated, humiliated and murdered Spanish peasant’s body.

Whoever wants to know something about the multitude of cruelty of martial conflicts, should know this cycle, because essentially nothing has changed - until today.

Osip Emilievich Mandelstam is one of the great Russian Poets of the 20th century. Calling himself a "Democratic Humanist" he died, in addition to his individual Political stance, for 16 lines of critique December 27, 1938, in the Gulag Archipelago.

His Criticism refers to Comrade Stalin and his "cleansing operations" that led to the mass murder of innocent Civilians, especially of the Ukrainian peasants and of all "suspicious subjects, diversants and spies". Conservative estimates put the number of starved to death Ukrainians at 3 million during the 1930ies.

The famine was probably not the result of a deliberate "extermination plan", but the result of paranoid fear, ignorance, incompetence and ideological delusion - but resulted in similar deadly consequences.

After the Great Hunger had stopped after a political turn, around 1934, Stalin started a new deadly project, being convinced of the reality of a fictitious Polish Secret "Military Organization" in the Ukraine, which tried to destabilise the Soviet Imperium.

Now the Soviet secret police (the NKWD) nightly picked up "Polish spies" by the tens of thousands for physical liquidation. People were taken up and transported to the centers of their extermination in black buses - called "Black Ravens" by the local population.

During these years, the "destruction of the kulaks as a political class" initiated by Stalin, was complemented by ethnic cleansing in a country that official declared to be part of a „union of socialist free states" with the right to withdraw at any time.

„Special cleansing Operations“ by the Russian forces are back again in the Ukraine in 2022, a country, recognized even by Russia under international law as a sovereign state.

Writing this post, we are standing on day 38 of a terrible war of Putins Russia against the Ukraine.

It is of interest, that the History of Ukraine as a nation is not defined ethnically but politically. It‘s territory has been shaped by the history and culture of quite different empires (K.Schlögel).

We also have to recognise that Stalin’s influence is still imprinted everywhere in the state structure of Russia; he remains omnipresent. Putin's politics increasingly resembles Stalins paranoid tyranny – it is the pure cult of fear.

Mandelstam’s famous critique about Stalin is part of this Post using English and German Translation. It could also refer to Comrade Putin.

The sleep of reason always leads to tragedies regardless of the underlying ideology. Only one example: I will never forget the American President George W. Bush who, advised by influential members of neoconservative "think tanks", was so obsessed with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, that he knowingly drove his Nation, with the help of simple and immediately transparent lies, into a war in Iraq that turned the entire Middle East into a battlefield.

Figure 2
Figure 3
Splendid Warriors: Whether War is an anthropological constant is highly controversial- see: 1322

Organized violence in Europe has its roots in (still egalitarian?) Funnel Beaker societies (Horn et al. 2021).

At the latest during the Bronze Age the glorification of the warrior begins. Socio-Economic causes for this process have been identified by certain lines of evidence and can be found in every modern Archaeological Textbook.

The Bronze Age testified the global emergence of a warrior society with a culture, chacterized by a variety of new, efficient weapons that remained in use for the millennia to come.

In their excellent short review “Introducing Bronze Age Warfare”, Christian Horn and Kristian Kristiansen argue:

This [glorification of the warriors] is evidenced in the ostentatious display of weapons in burials and hoards, as well as in iconography from rock art to palace frescoes. This development has been described in a variety of ways: as the emergence of warrior aristocracies, linked to the emergence of the ‘Hero’ and his retinue, or simply through a study of weapons and their indications of use

It all comes down to the historical fact that warfare became institutionalised and professionalized during the Bronze Age, and a new class of warriors made its appearance, one displaying differences among Eurasian, Mediterranean, and European warrior classes that were rooted in their different social and political complexities

Figure 2 and Figure 3 show a completely preserved terracotta warrior (hight 19,5 cm) representation from the Archaic Period of Cyprus of my personal collection (7th Century BC; dated by TL; ex Daryl Gruber Kulok Collection; NY), which illustrates this ideology perfectly.

In this Quality and Size, such Figurines are extremely rare. The body is formed on the potter's wheel, it is cylindrical and hollow inside.

The head is tapered on top with semicircular protruding ears, long pointed nose and painted eyes and beard. In his left hand the warrior he holds a circular shield with a button-like hump.

In his right hand, stretched to the side, the warrior probably once held a spear. Figures like this were found in the sanctuary of Agia Irini and other rural shrines in Cyprus. A comparable warrior is housed in the Medelhvsmuseet in Stockholm with the inventory number A.I. 0342.

Nowadays, one discontented powerful man is enough to bring the whole world to ruin. History knows a multitude of such creatures, but the destructive power of weapons has multiplied since the Bronze Age: inevitably and foreseeably, many millions of people will be murdered in the coming generations

Whenever you think - it can't go on like this, the next mass murder comes along and the next one has been just born

Osip Mandelstam in English:

We are living, but can’t feel the land where we stay,

More than ten steps away you can’t hear what we say.

But if people would talk on occasion,

They should mention the Kremlin Caucasian.

His thick fingers are bulky and fat like live-baits,

And his accurate words are as heavy as weights.

Cucaracha’s moustaches are screaming,

And his boot-tops are shining and gleaming.

But around him a crowd of thin-necked henchmen,

And he plays with the services of these half-men.

Some are whistling, some meowing, some sniffing,

He’s alone booming, poking and whiffing.

He is forging his rules and decrees like horseshoes –

Into groins, into foreheads, in eyes, and eyebrows.

Every killing for him is delight,

And Ossetian torso is wide.

(Translated by Dmitri Nikolajewitsch Smirnow )

Osip Mandelstam In German:

Wir Lebenden spüren den Boden nicht mehr,

Wir reden, dass uns auf zehn Schritt keiner hört,

Doch wo wir noch Sprechen vernehmen, –

Betrifft's den Gebirgler im Kreml.

Seine Finger sind dick und, wie Würmer, so fett,

Und Zentnergewichte wiegt's Wort, das er fällt,

Sein Schnauzbart lacht Fühler von Schaben,

Der Stiefelschaft glänzt so erhaben.

Schmalnackige Führerbrut geht bei ihm um,

Mit dienstbaren Halbmenschen spielt er herum,

Die pfeifen, miaun oder jammern.

Er allein schlägt den Takt mit dem Hammer.

Befehle zertrampeln mit Hufeisenschlag:

In den Leib, in die Stirn, in die Augen, – ins Grab.

Wie Himbeeren schmeckt ihm das Töten –

Und breit schwillt die Brust des Osseten. (Translated by Kurt Lhotzky)

Suggested Reading:

B.A.Anderson: Die Erfindung der Nation: Zur Karriere eines folgenreichen Konzepts; 2005

J Böhler et al: In the Shadow of the Great War. Physical Violence in East-Central Europe, 1917–1923; New York 2021

T.Bouverie: Mit Hitler reden: Der Weg vom Appeasement zum Zweiten Weltkrieg, 2021

H Leidinger al: Habsburgs schmutziger Krieg: Ermittlungen der österreichisch - ungarischen Kriegsführung 1914 - 1918; 2020

A. Kappeler: Kleine Geschichte der Ukraine. 5., überarbeitete und aktualisierte Auflage; 2019

R. Gerwarth: Die Besiegten, 2017

E. J. Hobsbawm Nationen und Nationalismus: Mythos und Realität seit 1780, 2007

H.U. Wehler: Nationalismus; 2019

Post Scriptum 1

Unfortunately, the engravings of Goya, a few days after writing this post hit the nerve of the time: remember Butscha, even if the full reconstruction of the events is still pending.

One must be patient and not get confused by "alternative facts" - the workup of Mỹ Lai and Srebrenica needed decennia, but were finally successful….

This is not a political blog but as a "zoon politikon" I feel obliged to comment contemporary political issues from time to time. -see here: 2234 , here: 2047 , here: 1083 , here: 2297 and here: 2047

Post Scriptum 2

Galicia (Polish Galicja, Ukrainian Галичина Halytschyna, Yiddish גאַליציע Galitsye) is a historical landscape in what is now southern Poland and western Ukraine. Its capital during the Austrian Empire was Lemberg (Lviv), located in the Ukraine today.

If you want to know more about the genocidal massacres and about perpetrators and victims, during the German occupation 1941-1944 , I recommend David Evans' documentary: "My Nazi Legacy". It breaked my heart- see: Galicia 1941-1944

The entire movie can be viewed here: Documentation

It was not by chance, that the term genocide was coined in 1943 by the Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, from Lviv, who combined the Greek word "genos" (Kinship community) with the Latin word "cide" (to kill).

After witnessing the mass executions by the Germans in Galicia, in which every member of his family except his brother was killed, Dr Lemkin successfully campaigned to have genocide recognised as a crime under international law.


Post Scriptum 3: „Guilty Men“:

There is a broad consensus that Hitler’s Germany is to blame for the Second World War.

Today, German appeasement policy bears a great deal of blame for the war crimes of Putin's army in Ukraine.

The pathetic and totally unbelievable German "culture of remembrance" has become a cheap excuse to leave other nations to their fate.

This appeaser attitude to “stay in Dialogue with Mr Putin” is totally inappropriate if one wants to stop a autistic Dictator.

When Mr Chamberlain visited Hitler during the Sudeten crisis in 1938, it became clear that the two men used a completely different language and lived in completely different worlds.

Chamberlain believed in diplomatic Dialogue, while Hitler had long left a normal civilised Common Ground, if he ever understood the basis of humanity.

While Chamberlain, during the last years before Munich, at least made sure that the Royal Air Force and the Radar posts along the English coast were in good condition, today’s German politicians, unable to imagine that a political criminal would not play by the common rules, missed any preparation for an armed conflict- that makes them "guilty men"(and women)

Those who do not want to remember ...are forced to relive history.

2022-04-03 18:00:09   •   ID: 2319

A possible Acheulian Handaxe from Höxter / Weserbergland

Figure1: Weserbergland ; Wikimedia Commons; A. Hindermith
Figure 2
This post may be of interest only for local Collectors of Paleolithic tools and certainly bears no groundbreaking new informations for the professional Archaeologist.

Recent observations on Pleistocene stratigraphies (Markkleeberg, Hundisburg, Leine Valley) have shown, that finds in the area of today's Germany, which deserve the designation of a genuin Acheulian must be dated later than previously thought.

German Bifaces occur mostly in the context of the last glacial KMG-complex, and therefore even individual findings, whith characteristics of a Late Acheulian deserve more attention than before.

The "Epi-Acheulian" sensu Tuffreau at Markkleeberg is the largest ensemble in Germany found so far. Here, the Paleolithic archeological horizons may date to MIS 7 and 6. The same holds true to a similar Ensemble at Hundisburg- see 1605

Figure 1 shows a panoramic view of the Weserbergland today near Bodenwerder.

The natural region of East Westphalia-Lippe comprises the Weserbergland as its core area, followed by the Westphalian Bay west of the Teutoburg Forest and the North German Plain north of the Wiehengebirge.

Today, Höxter is a medium-sized town with just under 30000 inhabitants in North Rhine-Westphalia and the district capital of the Höxter district. The city is located on the Weser River in the South of the hilly „Weserbergland“ region.

Figure 3
Historically of major interest is the Corvey Monastery, located on the banks of the Weser River, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2014 and is worth any visit.

The former Benedictine abbey was founded in 822, approved by the successor and son of Charlemagne. It was once one of the most important monasteries in Europe.

In the river valleys of the Weser and Leine, which represent important communication routes from south to north since prehistoric times, about 250 difficult-to-date Acheulian and Middle European Micoquian bifaces have been recovered so far (Bánffy 2018).

The patinated Chert Handaxe of this Post (Figure 2-5; 13,5x7,2x2,7 cm) with a classic Acheulian Design is one of them and was found years ago in the Weser Gravels at Höxter and is not the only Paleolithic artifact from the Weser Region in this Blog - see a Flint- Biface from Hann. Münden; 50 km South of Höxter- here: 1053 .

The biface has a Plano-Convex appearance, with remnants of the original cortex on its ventral side.

It clearly appears older than the regional handaxe finds, which are nowadays assigned to the KMG-Complex from MIS 5 and 3 and has more similarity with the handaxe from Bad Salzuflen described by J. Richter, foundabout 60 km N/W of Höxter - as a single find without any geological context.

R. Richter's sophisticated analysis of this artifact, which is at the same time a short introduction into the analysis of stone tools in general, indicates an age up to 300 k.a. BP - see: Handaxe from Salzuflen

Figure 4
Because the Höxter Region and the whole southern Weserbergland remained ice-freee during the extensive Drenthe glaciation of the Saale Complex about 160 k.a. BP, the implement possibly remained without major postdepositional damage.

However, we have to keep in mind that until the last glacial, the strongly relieved landscape of the Weserbergland, was altered by soil erosion and solifluction, which may have led to the destruction of many sites and to the burial of others under colluvium.

Among Paleolithic implements, handaxes stand out as the best known and most easily recognizable artifacts form for laymen. Thus, most of the 20 handaxes from the 14 sites in East Westphalia were picked up by chance and as a rule they are single finds. (Baales et al. 2018); (my own translation).

Turning further South, The so-called "Lower Hessian Depression" - (the “Niederhessische Senke”) in the Schwalm region about 50-100 km south of Höxter is one of the few areas in Germany, east of the Rhine, that have yielded a larger number of morphological Acheulian bifaces. However, these artifacts were mostly made from local quartzite- see: 1360

Geographically the Niederhessische Senke provides not only access to the Weser and to the North German / European Plain but also connectes Northern Hessen with what is now Thuringia with the classic Bilzingsleben and Weimar sites and regions further east around Leipzig.

Figure 5
Except from the Buhlen site, the Hessian Palaeolithic has been collected mainly from surface scatters and can only be roughly divided into a younger series from the last interglacial / glacial cycle and older finds so far - see here: 1624 , here: 1712 , here: 2027 , and here: 1625 . The older series have a clear Acheulian design and are most probably older than the last Interglacial.

This raises the question of the chronological background of hand axe production in today's Germany, which is not assigned to the "Middle European Micoquian" and therefore older than MIS 5.

Suggested Reading:

E. Bánffy: Spuren des Menschen; 2019

Fritz Bertram Jünemann: Paläolithische Artefakte auf Äckern mit Trümmerstreuung von Braunkohlenquarzit im Oberweserbergland südlich des Sollings, 134 - 146, in: Frühe Menschheit und Umwelt, Teil I. Fundamenta, Reihe A, Band 2, Köln  und Wien 1970 

G. Bosinski: mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa, 1967

A. Luttropp and G. Bosinski: Reuthersruh; 1971

K. Günther: Balver Höhle; 1964

K. Günther: Alt- und mittelsteinzeitliche Fundplätze in Westfalen, Teil 1 + Teil 2; 1986, 1988

M.D. Schön and  I.  Schweitzer:  Paläolithische   Funde   aus der   Gemarkung    Scheden,   Kr.   Göttingen. Göttinger Jahrbuch 1978

K.N. Jacob-Friesen: Die Altsteinzeitfunde aus dem Leinetal bei Hannover; 1949

M. Zedelius-Sanders: Die paläolithischen Funde aus dem Leinetal bei Jeinsen, Stadt Pattensen, Land- kreis Hannover; 1974

K.Hermann Jacob, C. Gäbert: Die altsteinzeitliche Fundstelle Markkleeberg bei Leipzig. Leipzig 1914. (Veröffentlichungen des Städtischen Museums für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig, H. 5)

Rudolf Grahmann: The lower palaeolithic Site of Markkleeberg and other comparable locatilies near Leipzig. In: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. N. S. Vol. 45, S. 6. Philadelphia 1955, S. 509–687.

W. Baumann, D. Mania: Die paläolithischen Neufunde von Markkleeberg bei Leipzig. Berlin 1983. (Veröffentlichungen des Landesmuseums für Vorgeschichte Dresden, Bd. 16)

J. Schäfer,et al: Bericht zu den Ausgrabungen am altsteinzeitlichen Fundplatz Markkleeberg 1999 bis 2001. In: Arbeits- und Forschungsberichte zur sächsischen Bodendenkmalpflege. 45, 2003, S. 13–47.

2022-03-25 13:07:19   •   ID: 2316

Filling the Chronological Gaps in North Africa: The ESA at Casablanca

Figure 1
The Handaxe and Cleaver of this Post are large Cutting tools (LCTs) from non dated Middle Pleistocene Contexts in the Sahara in North Africa.

They certainly really deserve this classification, being around 30 cm long.

Of course, these are specimens from times when the African Acheulian was already well established and spread during Middle Pleistocene wet phases over long distances over the Sahara. They may be well 600-400 k.a. old.

The early Acheulian appeared in East Africa 1,8 mya and in South Africa around 1,6 mya. About the Paleolithic of S-Africa please see here: 2224 , here: 1657 , here: 2169 , here: 1715 and here: 2071 .

The East African Background has already been described here: 1474 .

The last few years have been marked not only by a reassessment of the North African MSA, but also of the early regional Acheulian, providing new insights. In this respect, this post is a short update on the subject.

One main hot spot of interest to archaeology for decades has been the "Thomas Quarry" on the outskirts of Casablanca (Morocco).

Here there is a Late Pliocene to Early/Middle Pleistocene Succession, which is of interest in the question of the development of the regional Acheulian. Generally Prehistorians, working in this area, speak of a "first" and "second" Acheulian (according to Raynal).

The second Acheulian is associated with the remains of H. Heidelbergensis / Rhodensis and has not only detected at Thoma Quarry but nearby at Oulad Hamida and Sidi Abderrahmane Quarries also, and is ca. 500-600 k.a. old.

The "first Acheulian", briefly described here, is now dated by different scientific methods that have yielded very consistent results around 1,3 mya-that is, not much different to the age estimates of the south or East African Acheulian (Gallotti et al. 2021, Raynal et al. 2022). This early Acheulian has been contested at Thomas Quarry in the lowermost stratigraphic unit (OH1-Bed 2).

In the absence of volcanism and datable volcanic material, the researchers relied on a combination of Biostratigraphy, Paleomagnetism, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and electron spin resonance (ESR).

Figure 2
The first Acheulian is typo-technologically distinct from the earlier Oldowan sites of Algeria but also distinct from the initial East/South African Acheulian.

Beside to the production of typical LCTs, this Acheulian is characterized by the production of small bladelet-like flakes on flint. The production of such artifacts is very uncommon or even absent in other early Acheulian sites over the African Continent (Gallotti et al. 2020).

Galotti (2020) described the production of these bladelets as follows: related to small flaking both in quartzite and flint: pebbles were flaked using the bipolar-on-anvil technique repeatedly employing a specific method to produce bladelet-like flakes.

This production represents the oldest dated occurrence of bladelet-like technology in Africa and reveals technical competencies hitherto unknown for these periods, providing further elements for the techno-economic diversification of the African Acheulean

News about the Oldowam in N-Africa will be described in one of the next posts…..