2021-07-08 13:31:41 • ID: 2258
A Levallois Point from the the Ruquier Quarry at Oissel
This is a classic Levallois Point from the the Ruquier Quarry at Oissel, a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Normandy region in northern France near the important site of Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf-see here: 1595
Figure 1 shows the dorsal view, Figure 2 the ventral side and Figure 3 the facetted base of the Point.
In his classic work: "Les limons quaternaires du Bassin de la Seine"; François Bordes gave an important account about the many gravel quarries and their Quaternary stratigraphy in the Oisell area.
Near Oisell, in the commune of Grand-Couronne, the brickworks of Petit-Essart yielded several series that can be linked to a Late Acheulean and to a Mousterian of Acheulean tradition.
In particular, several brickyards opened in Oissel from 1869 onwards have yielded abundant material allowing important stratigraphic surveys.
These were located on the southeast-facing hillside overlooking Oissel, at an altitude of 67-70 m. The deepest excavation reached 22 m.
Bordes noted the succession of ten silty layers separated by eight levels of rubble.
The artifacts were found to be in different condition: - rolled, with some traces of gelifraction, - lustrous, - and fresh. This last series let Bordes believe that a part of the material was little or not disturbed.
The whole ensemble constituted one of the largest series collected in Haute-Normandie since the end of the 19th century. Bordes as a child of his time, recognized the existence of "Mindelian, Rissian and Würmian loess" largely disturbed by phases of erosion and solifluction.
Bordes highlighted an Upper Acheulean of Micoquian facies-see 1532 and a typical Mousterian at the Ruquier quarry, the latter at the the base of the recent loess I (Most Probably MIS 5).
His typological analysis showed that "the Levallois typological index is very high: 61.9, which classifies this industry in the Mousterian of Levalloisian facies. The scraper index is relatively high: 12.8, The "Charentian" index is 2.5, which is low. The total Acheulean index is poor, 3.1, as well as the back knife index, 2.9. The biface index is extremely low: 0.2. Indeed, only one biface was present".
Recently, the "Mare d'Oisse" has yielded a series of 5561 objects that also can be linked to a typical Mousterian and have been excavated with modern methods (see attached file), although absolute dates are not available.
This industry is characterized by strong Levallois component, with full mastery of a Non-Levallois Blade production.
The occupation corresponds mainly to a workshop on an extraction site; it may have been related to the nearby typical Mousterian of the Ruquier quarry site, on the same contiguous area.
Levallois Cores represent nearly 83% of the whole ensemble. The whole spectrum from lineal, recurrent (unidirectional, bidirectional, centripetal) and laminar techniques is present. On the other hand, several cores with prismatic appearance "à débitage semi-tournant" were qualified as Upper Paleolithic type.
In this respect the site is similar to Mousterian Ensembles with a strong laminar component from MIS5 in Northern Europe, first described at Seclin and later also recognized at Wallertheim D, Saint-Germain-des-Vaux, Tönchesberg 2B and Riencourt-lès-Bapaume for example. Geologically and in concordance with Bordes suggestions, the "Mare d'Oisse" site belongs to the end of MIS5 around 80-70 k.a. BP- see 1522
Francois Bordes, Les limons quaternaires du Bassin de la Seine. Stratigraphie et archéologie paléolithique; 1955.
Figure 4 displays page 152 from my own example of Bordes publication with Levallois Points- retouched and unretouched among a typical Scraper rich Levallois-Mousterian ensemble.
Interestingly typical blades are also shown, but not described in the text-I suggest because Bordes could not imagine a "blade Mousterian".
Aude Coudenneau: Éléments triangulaires et armes de chasse au Paléolithique moyen. Free via Theses.fr
2021-07-01 15:06:22 • ID: 2257
A short introduction into the Levallois Techniques
Figure 1 shows a Levallois Point, re- fitted to a Levallois Core. Figure 2 shows separated pictures of the triangular flake-also called Levallois Point- and Figure 3 the corresponding Core.
This mode of Levallois Production is called linear or preferential Levallois technique (Boeda 1983)- see below.
Today Levallois-Perret is a town in the Île-de-France region. It lies some 6 km from the centre of Paris in the north-western suburbs of the French capital. It is the most densely populated town in Europe and, together with neighbouring Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the most expensive suburbs of Paris.
Particular stone artifacts (distinctive cores and flakes) were recovered as early as 1867 by Reboux from the local gravels and were subsequently referred to as “Levallois" by G. De Mortillet in 1883, who especially focused on the characteristic triangular and oval flakes. Mortillet already noted the close connection of these flakes with the Acheulian and Mousterian.
Some credit should also go to Victor Commont who first reconstructed this particular type of debitage in 1909. According to a definition, suggested by Francois Bordes in 1961, the Levallois technique is characterized by the manufacture of a "flake of a form predetermined by special preparation of the core prior to the removal of that flake". It was Bordes, who first mentioned that Flaking is exclusively done with a hard hammer.
Levallois flakes can be processed further by retouching, as seen in Figure 4, which show a scraper on a triangular Levallois flake from the Nievre Area in France.
Anyhow Bordes short definition was obviously too unspecific for a full technological characterization of Levallois. It became also clear that there is a plethora of techniques under the broad "Levallois" umbrella, that had to be described more in detail.
A new Generation of Archeologists (Boeda, Tixier, Van Peer, Kuhn...) used experimental data and refittings from high resolution Archeological records for a deeper understanding of Levallois.
Although these scholars disagree in some minor aspects, the main points of their characterization will shortly described here, following the Texts of P.A. Mellars (The Neanderthal Legacy 1996) and E. Boeda (The Definition and Interpretation of Levallois Technology 1995).
- The classic Levallois reduction is clearly geared towards removing large flakes from a surface rather than a volume (Boeda 1995). The core is divided into two major asymmetrical convex "surfaces" and two corresponding "volumes" The lower face is used to prepare the continuous striking platform around the perimeter of the core, while the upper face is carefully prepared for the production of one or more Levallois flakes.
The intersection of these two surfaces is defined by a plane of intersection. In contrast to Discoid Cores, Levallois Cores always show the existence of hierarchization of the two volumes-see 1705 Indeed some researchers maintain that one can still call a technique Levallois if only one essential is present: two hierarchically related surfaces separated by a plane of intersection
Where the preparatory flaking was carried out in a predominantly radial or centripetal fashion from various points around the core perimeter, the resulting flakes are oval or rectangular in outline and show clear traces of this radial flaking on their dorsal surfaces.
In other cases, however, the preparatory flaking was oriented either primarily or exclusively from either one or both ends of the core, leading to the production of flakes with a more elongated or triangular form. A good example are Nubian triangular Cores
Recurrent techniques can be Uni- or Bipolar. Unipolar techniques are characterized by the fact, that the subsequent Levallois flake is removed along the same axis as the first and in the same direction. Bipolar techniques are characterized by the fact, that the subsequent Levallois flake is removed along the same axis as the first , but in the opposite direction. Uni- and Bipolar Levallois Techniques were often used for the production of Levallois Blades, similar to the example, shown in Figure 5 (from the Charente)
This evolution of lithic equipment may be related to the invention of new, more efficient, hunting strategies see here: 1494
Surf the Blog for more information about the Discoid Technique:
here 1424 , here 2077 , and here 1705
Suggested Reading around Levallois:
P.A. Mellars: The Neanderthal Legacy 1996.
Harold L. Dibble and Ofer Bar-Yosef (Eds): The Definition and Interpretation of Levallois Technology (Monographs in World Archaeology, Band 23) 1995
Marie-Louise Inizan, Michèle Reduron-Ballinger, Hélène Roche Jacques Tixier: Technology and Terminology of Knapped Stone 1999
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-07-02_Levallois_Unipolar_Preferentiel.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-02_levallois_getrennt2.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-02_levallois_getrennt_1_neo.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-02_Levallois_Unipolar_Preferentiel.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-02_levallois_blade.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-09_nievre.jpg
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…figures?lo=1
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…241685228_Technology_and_Terminology_of_Knapped_Stone
- Extern Link: eprints.soton.ac.uk…Bolton%2520Final%2520PhD%2520Thesis.pdf
2021-06-15 14:53:00 • ID: 2256
The Acheulo-Jabrudian and Amudian: One or three Entities? - A closer look from the Type Site
Figure 1-3 (1 and 2: dorsal view; 3 ventral view) show a small (9 cm long) Handaxe, from the "Acheulo-Yabrudian", found Southwest of Mt Carmel in the Menashe Heights called Balad ar-Ruha in Arabic, meaning "Land of Winds", -see: 1460 and 1596 . The Biface was made from the typical local Flint.
This kind of raw material was occasionally used during the Yabrudian, mainly in Caves at the Mediterranean coastal plain (for example at Misliya Cave), while we do not know any examples of its use from the Levallois- Mousterian of this region.
Figure 4 is a typical Déjeté Yabrudian scraper (Rust 1950; Tafel 24,2), found at Nachal Me'arot (נחל מערות, Wadi el- Mughara), Figure 5 is a triangular scraper with demi-Quina Retouche (Rust 1950; Tafel 1,1) and Figure 6 displays a broad cortical blade, which was found together with the Handaxe of Figure 1-3, exhibiting a typical “Amudian” design (early Paleolithic blade with natural back).
This post aims a historical and critical review about the “Acheulo-Jabrudian” (also called “Acheulian-Yabrudian” or “Yabroudien” in French), including ensembles designated as „Pre Aurignacian“ and “Amudian”.
Beside a description of the major sites and their history, I will focus on the question if this post-Acheulian Entity, dated to c 250-420 k.a. BP, represents a single or several independent technocomplexes.
The Type Site-Yabrud will for ever be linked with Alfred Rust (1900-1983)- see 2022 - an important but professionally and politically controversial German prehistorian.
He was an adventurous figure who, through diligence and enthusiasm for Paleolithic research but also by direct sponsorship by Heinrich Himmler's „Ahnenerbe“, managed to gain an important position in German Paleolithic Prehistory between 1933 and 1950 despite a lack of formal academic training - a rarity in the German scientific scene.
Alfred Rust completed only elementary school and began training as an electrical engineer in 1915, becoming a master in this profession in 1926.
After WW I his interest in prehistory was awakened from 1923 in lectures at the „Volkshochschule Hamburg“, mainly held by the eminent Prehistorian Gustav Schwantes from Kiel, the teacher of many gifted and successful prehistorians.
Being an ultranationalist himself, the majority of his scholars, like Jankuhn, had a high affinity to the National Socialist ideology (the so called "Kieler Schule").
In order to gain a better understanding of the origins of the Central European Paleolithic and its possible roots in the Levant, Alfred Rust and a friend, at the suggestion of Schwantes, traveled by bicycle from Hamburg across the Balkans and Turkey to the Near East in 1930.
There they discovered by chance three large Abris of Yabrud- an quite ambivalent constellation and a real challenge and maybe a mission impossible for an untrained beginner.
The three large Abris of Yabrud are located about 80 km northeast of Damascus and about 20 km east of the Lebanese border and remain among the most important archaeological sites of the Near East, spanning the time between the late Acheulian, Yabrudian, Levallois-Mousterian, EUP and later Upper Paleolithic Entities until the local Epipaleolithic.
The Abris are located east of the mountain range of the Antilibanon at an altitude of about 1400 meters. Rust with help of local workers excavated at Jabrud between 1930-1933 and published first results of his extraordinary findings in 1932. At Abri I, Rust almost completely excavated Paleolithic findings throughout a stratigraphic sequence of 11.5 meters. The artifacts were sent by him to Germany and are now housed at the Institute of Prehistoric Archaeology – University of Cologne.
In 1942, after his habilitation, Rust was funded and appointed a corresponding member in the SS sub-organization „Forschungsgemeinschaft Deutsches Ahnenerbe“ and exempted from military and war service. It possibly will for ever remain unclear whether Rust was a convinced National Socialist or "only" an opportunist. Because of Rust's membership in Ahnenerbe, celebrations of his 100th birthday in Ahrensburg were canceled in 2000.
An extensive Monograph about the Yabrud excavations was published by Rust in 1950 and is still the basis of our knowledge about the Yabrudian at the type-site today, although better trained archaeologists, the first being F. Bordes, clearly criticized the idiosyncratic nature of Rusts nomenclature ("Prä Micro Mousterian, "Jabrudo-Mousterian"…).
With time it also became increasingly clear, that Rust assigned several Archaeological finds to strata in which they had not originally been found. Rust did not worry much about the distinction between Archeological and Geological strata. As Rust himself described in addition, several parts of the Abris were disturbed by later historic settlements.
While Both Rust and Bordes used Déjeté-Scrapers, relatively rare in Europe and Quina Retouches as hallmark for the Jabrudian, Jelinek (1981 in Chauvain and Sanaville), who worked both with the Material from Jabrud and Tabun, suggested that statistically, the Jabrudian is mainly characterized by a high Number of scrapers and various numbers of Bifaces (if at all).
Avraham Ronen (1980) who reexcavated Jabrudian strata in Tabun, gave a definition of a non- biased sample, which remains valid for both the Jabrud and Tabun Material:
The Jabrudian is a flake based Non-Levallois industry, rich in various scrapers with prevalent scalar ("Quina") retouche. These scrapers are often transversal, déjeté, convergent, triangular, simple convex, sometimes small and irregular. Limaces are also present. The bulb of percussion was often removed, Handaxes are usually rare or even missing, but can also be very numerous such in the case of Misliya cave.
Already mentioned by Rust, but only systematically evaluated by Israelian Scientists is the characteristic "Tabun Snap". This snap was created by a blow on the dorsal and proximal face of Jabrudian flakes.
Its purpose is neither thinning, nor to obtain secondary small flakes. Most likely, the snap was created to shorten the original artifact (Shifroni and Ronen 2000).
In Rusts Publication the early Paleolithic layers of Abri I (Statum 25-17) never included more than 200 retouched tools per stratum. A selection bias may be present, affecting especially "atypical" and small pieces.
The designation of the layers by Rust oscillates between Jabroudian, Acheulo-Jabroudian, Jabroudo-Mousterian (!) Acheulian and Prä-Aurignacian; -a Blade industry without any Biface.
Rust took the sample of Stratum 25 as archetypical for the Definition of the Jabrudian. His Definition ultimately met the current definition of Ronen.
Stratum 24 has a similar composition, but also exhibits some small Handaxes without any indication of a relocation from under or overlying strata.
Stratum 23 with not more than c 50 retouched artifacts is characterized by small Handaxes and some scrapers. One large elongated handaxe shows an typical late Acheulian character. Rust also found some tanged instruments, maybe an indication for hafting . He called the stratum: "Late Middle (!) Acheulian.
The composition of Stratum 22 with about 200 retouched artifacts is similar to stratum 24, without any Bifaces and therefore called Jabrudian by Rust.
Stratum 21 consists of 19 retouched tools only and shows Jabrudian features.
Stratum 20 can be qualified as Jabrudian, but based by only 60 retouched tools only. One Handaxe was present.
Stratum 19 with about 30 retouched tools and one Handaxe ("Acheulo Jabrudian ") by Rust essentially does not differ from the "Jabrudian" of Statum 20. About 30 retouched tools were collected.
Stratum 18: This layer also resulted in only a few retouched artifacts (around 50). It was labeled Micoquian by Rust, although none of the 8 bifaces had a Micoque morphology. Some scrapers show Jabrudian character, although this is denied by Rust. He called the small Inventory: " Micoquian".
Stratum 17 contained a small Jabrudian sample.
Stratum 16 and more upper in the stratigraphy Stratum 13 were used to define the famous "Pre-Aurignacian" sensu Rust. The term should not be used any more, because this ca 270 k.a. old complex has nothing in common with the Upper Paleolithic Aurignacian. For Rusts Cultural Historical approach, this entity indicated a first "Wave" of H. Sapiens populations from the Levant to Europe.
Anyhow it was already known at Rust's times, that a blade industry from the Late Early Paleolithic existed on the other side of the Antilibanon from the Excavations of D.E.A. Garod at Tabun, where a similar industry was incorporated in Layer E -see 1106
Together with unmodified blades, the ensemble compromise 73 modified tools in Stratum and about 50 retouched tools in Stratum 13. Blades with marginal retouches, Burins and Borers along with thick (Aurignacian like; Core like) scrapers and endscrapers are common.
There were some sub pyramidal cores, indicating a non Levallois operational sequence in blade production. No typical Upper Paleolithic cores were found. The broken tip of a handaxe was suggested as derived from an underlying stratum and secondary used as a core.
Contemporaneous laminar Industries of the Levant at Qesem Cave and interstratified into the Jabrudian at the Tabun E Complex are called "Amudian" since Garrod's times, because they lack similarities to the Aurignacian and mainly consist of naturally backed and / or non retouched blades (see below).
Stratum 14 is a typical Jabrudian, consisting of ca 100 retouched tools.
The relatively large Ensemble of Stratum 12 was called End-Acheulian by Rust and consists of well executed pointed, mainly sub-triangular handaxes and simple scrapers. Strata in higher position at Jabrud Abri 1 show an evolution to a Levantine Levallois-Mousterian.
I must confess that besides the unacceptable political attitude of Rust, the scientist Rust at Jabrud drew important and lasting conclusions from his work under difficult working conditions.
In sum and regarding all limitations , mentioned above, Rust showed that:
- "Pure" Acheulian and Jabrudian strata are interstratified and may have been, for some time, contemporaneous
- The designation of a "Acheulo-Jabrudian" is justified. There seems to exist a significant Bifacial component in some Jabrudian ensembles; although even Rust already noticed a double patinations of some handaxes in Jabrudian layers, suggestive of a certain mixing of pure Jabrudian and Acheulian strata
- Rusts observations were also confirmed by the latest excavations by Ronen(2006): At Tabun some strata bear Handaxes which are typically smaller, thicker, less carefully made with more extensive cortical remains than Acheulian Bifaces-see the example shown in this post. In addition "Faustkeilblätter"-similar to those of Central Europe during MIS3 are present.
Another Handaxe-rich Acheulo-Jabrudian site is Mislija cave on the western slope of Mount Carmel. Beside the Characteristics of Jabrudian Handaxes described above, Zeidner et al. noted a gradual transition from genuine handaxes, through „Unifaces" fully worked on one face only to genuine Jabrudian scrapers.Such ensembles are also observed at Bezez Cave (Lebanon)
- Jabrud is not the only site of the Jabrudian in Syria. During the last decades a lot of ensembles were found in El Kowm (11 sites notably at Hummal, Nadaouiyeh and Umm el Tlel), and in the Dederiyeh Cave. Unfortunately we still are missing to a certain degree monographs about these localities
Blade Industries as an Intra Jabrudian Episode: It was early recognized, that in the Levant, the manufacture of blades appeared quite early, not only in the "Preaurignacian" of Jabrud rock-shelter I, but also and the "Amudian" at Tabun and Abri Zumoffen / Adlun; (Garrod and Kirkbride 1961); Zuttiyeh (Gisis and Bar-Yosef 1974) and Maslouk (Skinner 1970) and considered as late Lower Paleolithic.
At Tabun, the Amudian is intercalated within Yabrudian strata, according to recent publications, the blade component is increasing step by step within the Jabrudian sequence, just to disappear and to be replaced again by the Jabrudian, in contrast to Jabrud, where Rust mentioned an abrupt appearance of the Preaurignacian in stratum 16 and its re-appearance in stratum 13. Anyhow this sharp demarcation maybe the result of secondary sorting of the material by Rust himself. At the Libanese site of Abri Zumoffen (Adloun I) the Amudian assemblages present a significant flake component of the Jabrudian type.
Based on extrapolation from TL dates, the Amudian layers at Tabun cave appear to date to the later half of the Middle Pleistocene, between 270 and 330,000k.a. BP and therefore broadly contemporaneous with the Preaurignacian at Jabrud. Another common feature with the latter entity is the simple mode of core preparation, different from the Upper Paleolithic and the absence of any Jabrudian or Mousterian artifacts.
In Contrast to the Pre-Aurignacian, the Amudian is typologically different. Naturally Backed Knives, Backed knifes and Burins together with some endscrapers are are common, while "Aurignacian-like" characteristics are nearly absent. An interesting observation is that laminar items were generally only lightly retouched, compared to the typical Acheulo-Jabrudian.
The most important site, excavated by up-to-date methods is Qesem Cave. Here almost all lithic artefacts throughout a stratigraphic sequence of 7.5 meters, with a time-frame between c 200-400 k.a., BP belong to the Amudian industry. Only one area contemporaneous with an Amudian ensemble belonged to a "pure" Yabroudian ( Barkai et al 2009). The excavators interpreted this finding as an indication of an activity-specific mode of resource exploitation and subsistence activities at c 296 k.a. BP.
The rich material at Qesem allowed a detailed reconstruction of the Chaîne Opératoire of the Amudian from surface quarrying to discard. They interpreted the serial production of blades (mean length about 6 cm)as a sophisticated variant of a prepared core technique over an almost incredible long time at one place, that was repeatedly visited by a specific group of hominins, (presumably archaic H. Sapiens). Most of the blades were used in cutting, butchering and defleshing activities on soft tissues.
Regarding that blades were present in small quantities at almost all "Acheulo-Jabrudian" sites, the focus of the inhabitants of Qesem seems to belong to the repertoire of the same people, and make an incoming new population to the Levant improbable.
Insofar the "Acheulo-Jabrudian-Amudian" seems to be rather one entity than three independent technocomplexes.
Surf the Blog:
Posts about the (Acheulo)-Jabrudian (Yabrudian / Yabroudian) please see here: 1709 , here 1423 , here: 1171 , and here: 1545
D. A. E. Garrod and D. M. A. Bate (Eds): The Stone Age of Mount Carmel Vol I; 1937
A. Rust Die Höhlenfunde von Jabrud (Syrien); 1950
A. Ronen, M Weinstein-Evron (Autor) Modern Humans: The Yabrudian and Micoquian 400-50 K-years Ago; 2000
Derek A. Roe (Ed): Adlun in the Stone Age: The excavations of D. A. Garrod in the Levanon, 1958-1963; Vol I and II; 1983
Important for the Amudian!: Ron Shimelmitz: Blade Production in the Middle Pleistocene (Thesis; Tel Aviv University 2009)- pdf via the Net
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-06-15_20210607_yabq.jpg
- Image: 2021-06-15_20210609_jabr_neu.jpg
- Image: 2021-06-16_jabrudfA.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-02_yab.jpg
- Image: 2021-07-02_20210607_yabr_neu.jpg
- Extern Link: link.springer.com…s41982-019-00038-0
- Extern Link: www.academia.edu…A_blade_for_all_seasons_Making_and_using_Amudian_blades_at_Qesem_Cave_Israel
- Extern Link: www.academia.edu…The_big_deal_about_blades_laminar_technologies_and_human_evolution
- Extern Link: www.sciencemag.org…ancient-jawbone-suggests-our-species-left-africa-40000-years-earlier-expected
- Extern Link: www.sciencedirect.com…S0047248411001461
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…318299560_Shifting_understandings_of_the_Acheulo-Yabrudian_complex_and_the_Lower_to_Middle_Paleolithic_transition_at_Tabun_Cave
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…312865724_The_Acheulo-Yabrudian_-_Early_Middle_Paleolithic_Sequence_of_Misliya_Cave_Mount_Carmel_Israel
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…285320041_Acheulo-Yabrudian_handaxes_from_Misliya_Cave_Mount_Carmel_Israel
2021-06-05 12:23:50 • ID: 2252
Double Pointed Pick from Erg Rebiana, Libya
Lithic Picks from the old world were present from 1,7 Ma until the Neolithic.
An early Palaeolithic Pick from East Africa was already introduced here: 2070 and a Neolithic example can be seen here: 1738
This is a Double Pointed ESA or early MSA tool from Erg Rebiana, Libya. The region was already introduced during an earlier post-see: 2010
The Rabyanah Sand Sea is a sand desert region in the southeastern sector of Libya with a surface of approximately 65,000 km².
It is named after the oasis town of Rabyanah located towards its eastern end. Together with the Calanshio Sand Sea and the Great Sand Sea, the Rabyanah Sand Sea is part of the greater Libyan Desert.
During the Pleistocene a dense network of rivers in the Rebiana area existed and connected the area with sites further North and East (see Figure 1 in Scerri and Spinapolice 2019). Even today vast water supplies lie beneath the Rebiana Oasis.
Unfortunately, data about the Paleolithic in N-Africa, especially concerning the MSA are mostly limited to coastal and hinterland regions including some prominent oases.
Further problems arise by political instability, the frequent lack of stratified finds in the central Sahara and nomenclatural inconsistencies that make comparisons of Stone Age inventories over wide distances of this huge Continent difficult.
The tool shown here would probably called "Bifacial Scraper" in Central Europe, "Atypical Biface" in France and " Double Pointed Pick" by Africanists.
Considering the original localisation of the stone tool and its geomorphological relationship to East Africa, the last designation may be the most reliable.
Early Paleolithic Picks in Africa and Asia (including the Levantine corridor) refer to a subgroup of Large Cutting Tools (LCTs).
A simple pick is defined as an elongated bifacial core-like tool with a thick distal tip, often with a triangular or rectangular cross section at the conjunction of two lateral edges.
The distal ends of Paleolithic picks have been retouched on two, three or even four sides. Double-pointed picks have two such points at opposite ends of the same tool (Definition modified after Shea 2013).
Pick aren't only a hallmark of the early Acheulian in the Levant: Ubeidiya in Israel at c 1.4 million years. Joub Jannine II and Latamne in Syria at c 500-700 k.a. but they were also found in different contexts over Eastern and South Africa.
One example of an early pick from my own collection comes from Sterkfontein in the Gauteng Province - see also 2227 and is about 1,7–1,4 Ma old.
Picks persist in the Archaeological record until the MSA- maybe even until the early Holocene in Central Africa in remote areas.
Picks are common during the post-Acheulian, the early MSA Sangoan which has its center in Central Africa. The Sangoan is a an industry dominated by minimally reduced, thick, and heavy core tools including core axes, picks, choppers, and core-scrapers (Leakey and Owen 1945).
The Sangoan industry was first discovered in 1920 at Sango Bay, Uganda, and is also found in Angola, Congo (Kinshasa) and Kenya. Variant forms of Sangoan occur in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Other important Sangoan sites have been detected in the Middle Nile Valley sites such as Khor Abu Anga (Arkell 1949), Sai 8-B-11 (Van Peer et al. 2003), and Arkin 8 (Chmielewski 1968), and further to the south at Abu Hagar.
The common question of convergence versus the spread of this very characteristic ESA/MSA artifact through migratory movements and / or diffusion of certain ideas, can of course not be answered in this modest post of an interested collector.
Sacha C. Jones, Brian A. Stewart (Ed.): Africa from MIS 6-2: Population Dynamics and Paleoenvironments (Vertebrate Paleobiology and Paleoanthropology).
AJ Arkell: The Old Stone Age in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan / by A.J. Arkell. (Sudan Antiquities Service occasional papers ; no. 1)
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-06-05_sl16003.jpg
- Image: 2021-06-05_sl16002.jpg
- Image: 2021-06-05_sl1600.jpg
- Extern Link: www.isita-org.com…31294697.pdf
- Extern Link: www.academia.edu…Lithics_of_the_North_African_Middle_Stone_Age_assumptions_evidence_and_future_directions
- Extern Link: core.ac.uk…159768153.pdf
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…258709897_A_Story_of_Colourful_Diggers_and_GrindersThe_Sangoan_and_Lupemban_at_site_8-B-11_Sai_Island_Northern_Sudan
2021-05-27 19:35:16 • ID: 2250
Raw material is not everything: An example from Erg Chech - An understudied Region in the Algerian Sahara
The Erg Chech in South Western Algeria (Fig. 1: Wikipedia Commons) is nowadays an almost uninhabited part of the greater Sahara Desert, an inhospitable region with long, extremely hot summers and short, very warm winters.
Wet episodes, during the Middle / Upper Pleistocene and early Holocene allowed Homo sp. to enter the landscapes as contested by small scatters of ESA and MSA artifacts. The flora and fauna of this phases is characterized by a mixture of tropical and temperate species of Mediterranean type.
The literature about Prehistoric find spots at Erg Chech is extremely scare and to my knowledge no systematic expeditions have been taken place during the last century. Regarding the Inaccessibility of the Erg Chech it may be useful to use neighboring and better explored regions (Grand Erg Oriental, Ahaggar, Tassili-N-Ajjar) for a comparison about the chronology and techno-typology during the ESA.
I found no publications about the ESA of Erg Chech- neither in French nor English.
Lhote (1944) described an exceptional large Aterian Point from the area and compared it to other Aterian pieces found in Algeria, known at his time.
Neolithic Material is more common and has been shortly described in this blog. See: 2067
Figure 2 and 3 show a very large Handaxe (28 cm long), made from tabular basalt, which is easy to split and can be be used for tool production without major modification of the blank.
Basaltic raw material is not uncommon in the Central Sahara and was mainly used during the ESA. The Handaxe of the post has been produced from a large flake and can be classified as a LCT.
Such "Gigantism" of Bifaces was occasionally found in the Sahara-for example at Tihodaine northeast of the Ahaggar area bordering the Tassili n’Ajjer plateau in Algeria: see: 1447
Beside the flat Handaxe of this post, there are occasionally Palaeolithic tools examples that prove a strong influence of the raw material on the final shaping of artifacts - think for example of the Central European Keilmesser group of the Swabian Jura, where flat plate horn stone played an important role in the tool design.
Anyhow, this is rather the exception of a rule. The Makers of the „Moustérien à petits bifaces dominants” from the Normandie and Britany produced, irrespectively from the available raw material, identical bifaces from Jasper, Chert, Quartzite and Quarz.
Figure 4 shows another example: a perfect Levallois point, from Northern Hessen, made from Quartzite. The artifact is even finer made than the better known examples made from high quality Flint in Northern France.
Sharon used a large corpus of LCTs from Africa, the Levant and India, to study among other things, the influence of raw material on the shape of Cleavers and Hand Axes.
He found: "that in large flake based Acheulian, raw material constraints did not significantly affect either the blank production process or large cutting tool shape and size variability. The Acheulian large cutting toolmakers used the rock types available in the vicinity of their site in a sophisticated reduction sequence aimed to produce large cutting tools that are surprisingly similar regardless of the original shape, size and type of raw material from which they were produced" (Sharon 2008).
Eren et al. used an experimental approach and Multivariat Analysis in experimental produced Paleolithic Handaxes and came to concordant conclusions:
"The MANOVA of all 29 size-adjusted variables, using two different tests, showed no statistically significant differences in overall shape patterns between the three groups of raw material.
In sum, our results show that assuming the primacy of raw material differences as the predominant explanatory factor in stone tool morphology, or variations between assemblages, is unwarranted" (Eren et al. 2014).
Our ancestors seem to have early emancipated themselves from the naturally given shapes by raw material supply after the Olduvan at about 1,8 k.a. BP.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-05-27_chech3.png
- Image: 2021-05-29_desert1298.jpg
- Image: 2021-05-29_lenderscheid_levallois_aggsbach1.jpg
- Extern Link: www.persee.fr…bspf_0249-7638_1944_num_41_4_1799?q=Erg+Chech
- Extern Link: journals.openedition.org…258
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…223170604_The_impact_of_raw_material_on_Acheulian_large_flake_production
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…223170604_The_impact_of_raw_material_on_Acheulian_large_flake_production
- Extern Link: cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com…Eren_etal2014_JAS.pdf
2021-05-04 11:45:13 • ID: 2249
The Middle Paleolithic at Les Cottés (Vienne, France)
This is a classical large convex unifacial Quina Scraper (2,8x5x10 cm) from Les Cottés (Vienne, France) first excavated by R. de Rochebrune in 1881.
Figure1: Dorsal View with Quina Retouche, Figure 2: Ventral View with some irregular retouches; Figure 3: Natural Back; Figure 4: Cutting Edge opposite the back. The artifact may have been used hafted or hand-held near the Back.
Rochebrune described two levels of occupation: Mousterian and Upper Paleolithic. Breuil gave an important account of these excavations in 1906 by diagnosing Aurignacian levels.
The excavations of Louis Pradel took place from 1951, and were continued by F. Lévêque between 1972 and 1984.
In 2006, Marie Soressi undertook new excavations, mainly re-evaluating the stratigraphy of her forerunners combined with an up-to-date dating program (C-14; TL) and new methods of Molecular Archaeology.
The importance of this site results from a multilayered Early Upper Paleolithic with reliable AMS dates - see here: 1483 , here: 1492 , and here: 2165 and its geographical position between the greater Aquitaine and the Paris Basin.
Les Cottés is located at the entrance to a Jurassic limestone hillside cave overlooking the alluvial plain of the Gartempe River.
The Gartempe, a river flowing from south to north, is located at the southwestern margins of the Paris Basin, bordering the Poitou, Berry, and Touraine regions.
The sequence described by Pradel of a Mousterian, followed by a Châtelperronian, a “Proto-Aurignacian" and Early Aurignacian is unique in Europe and has been confirmed during the re-excavations of the last years.
The scraper of this post is made from a heavy Flint pebble, coming from the immediate vicinity of the cave and is a typical Quina Scraper.
The artifact is characterized by an elongated thick flake, in which the maximum thickness was located directly opposite the retouched edge of the finished tool.
It was not worked by the "salami slice technique" but by a more complex operational sequence of core reduction employed for the production of thick, triangular-sectioned elongated flakes, typical for Quina-Mousterian assemblages in S/W-France.
According to Turq (1989), the flaking of a long oval flint pebble commenced by removing one major preparatory flake from one end of the nodule. In a next step this initial flake surface was used as a prepared striking platform for the removal of one or more elongated flakes extending vertically down the face of the nodule (best seen in Figure 3).
Several of the flakes produced in this way could have been used directly as blanks for Quina tools. Typically these first generation blanks may retain a substantial part of the cortex, while cortical remnants are missed on subsequent blanks, which can be also seen on our example.
The Cottés sequence begins with a small sample (retouched tools of Pradels excavation: n=185) of a Mousterian that remains poorly understood. It has been found separated by a 25 cm sterile layer below the Châtelperronian deposits.
L. Pradel called it: "Mousterian without bifaces", despite the presence of one Cordiform Handaxe. The inventory consists mainly of Scrapers (thick and large, often transversal and reworked by Quina retouche-similar to our example. An almost identical counterpart of the scraper of this post from Pradels publication is seen in Figure 6 -(Pradels Fig.3).
In addition, simple scrapers, convergent scrapers, "Mousterian Points" and denticulates were found. Lévêque (1993) designated the Middle Paleolithic at the site as a "Quina-type Mousterian", maybe influenced by the typical style and number of the convex simple and transversal scrapers.
Moreover, current analyses of faunal remains showed that, despite the abundance of anthropogenic remains, the impact of the hyenas and their contribution to the bone assemblage cannot be overlooked (Soressi et al., 2010).
Continued excavation of this Mousterian complex may be essential for a better understanding of the Middle to early Upper Palaeolithic transition and the taphonomy of the lowest strata of the site.
Molecular Archaeology is increasingly contributing to scientific results of contemporaneous excavations:
A Nanderthal tooth from a child from Les Cotten showed exceptionally high δ15N values in collagen single amino acids, therfore confirming that Neanderthals were high-trophic level carnivores (Jaouen et al. 2019)
Pradel, L. 1961. La grotte des Cottés. L’Anthropologie 65, 229-258.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-05-15_cottes_11a.jpg
- Image: 2021-05-15_cottes2.jpg
- Image: 2021-05-15_cottes3a.jpg
- Image: 2021-05-16_quina44.jpg
- Image: 2021-05-16_cottes.jpg
- Image: 2021-06-09_cottes.jpg
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…257154608_A_radiocarbon_chronology_for_the_complete_Middle_to_Upper_Palaeolithic_transitional_sequence_of_Les_Cottes_France
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…260186816_Le_Chatelperronien?_sg=q6zGA_4dOgL0jmox5d43cmmRVSX7nF031GFmx0LcPkWApJNsbD8uWdbnF7tQyzUdDXLqsfpenCvJ4c9rQhAdc1CqxeGLfJw1eAfugtCk.RrcdVywKqstrVkgcxuIfJiYfivZIUYNfCIuVQOy8OYHOhrB9HtYpTnTLoAGyTQPBUEYYEJlEbuUk1xPzhsps5w
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…260187972_European_Middle_to_Upper_Paleolithic_Transitional_Industries_Chatelperronian
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…figures?lo=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic
- Extern Link: hal.archives-ouvertes.fr…document
2021-04-14 15:42:39 • ID: 2248
Trihedral Handaxe and Flint Quariing in the Menashe Hills / Israel.
The inhabitants of Israel did a lot displaying the country's rich archaeological treasures in regional museums. The Paleolithic is not neglected, which is rather uncommon compared to many other countries.
A good example for such local museums is the Upper Galilee Museum of Prehistory, founded by Amnon Assaf, which offers a wide variety of prehistoric artifacts from 780-6 k.a. BP, collected in the Hula Valley and on the grounds of a Kibbutz, mainly by one man and his non-professional collaborators: Amnon Assaf.
A very fine and newly renovated Archeological Museum is located at Ein HaShofet, a Kibbutz in the Menashe Heights region around 25 km southeast of the city of Haifa.
It was founded by Shlomo Kurtz, an Archaeologist and Holocaust surviver, who came from Hungary to the Ein Hashofet Kibbuz soon after WW II.
The Handaxe, shown here is typical for the Menashe area and similar examples are shown in the museum, which displays local artifacts from the early Paleolithic until Roman times.
The Menashe area and its Stone Age have already introduced into Aggsbachs Blog-see: 1460 and 1596
Usually the Handaxes are knapped by, what I call a specific “Menashe” style, they are small (around 4 to 9 cm), rather broad and thick, often backed and made from small pebbles.
They rarely offer straight cutting-edges and seem to be focused on their tips- anyhow their functions remain a mystery.
Shimelmitz et al. (2019) recently published a paper (see external links) about Flint quarrying at Nahal Shelef, a Holocene Quarry and Workshop Site in the Menashe Hills.
Large quarries and lithic workshop sites have been detected by systematic prospection throughout the southern Levant and formed an important element of land use and structuring the landscape since the Early Paleolithic until the Bronze Age- see for example the publication about a middle Paleolithic and Neolithic extraction and reduction complex at Mt. Achbara in Eastern Galilee, Israel.
Similar sites in the Menashe area are characterized by hard, karstic limestone, in with flint nodules in various dimensions are protruding from the eroded surface. Here they can be easily recognized and extracted. Interestingly they were also knapped still embedded within the limestone, probably to test their properties.
I suggest, that the general use of smaller pebbles during the Early Paleolithic reflects a conscious choice of their makers. Possibly their dimensions are an expression of the maximum possible transport capacity of their manufacturers, in their movements across the landscape.
On the other hand, Menashe Flint nodules were sometimes heavy weighted with diameters up to 50 cm. During the Neolithic they were used as cores, mainly for the production of larger bifacial axes and long blades (maybe preforms of sickles) as shown by two broken examples in Figure 4.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-04-14_UZ1.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-14_UZ22.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-14_UZ2.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-15_20210415_sickle.jpg
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…338012703_Nahal_Shelef_A_Holocene_Quarry_and_Workshop_Site_in_the_Menashe_Hills_Israel
- Extern Link: www.academia.edu…A_Middle_Paleolithic_and_Neolithic_Chalcolithic_flint_extraction_and_reduction_complex_at_Mt_Achbara_Eastern_Galilee_Israel_ARA_16_2018_14_33_
2021-04-10 13:52:32 • ID: 2247
A Streletskian point from Suschky (Ukraine; Poltawa Region)
This is a very typical Streletskian Point from Suschky near Poltava (Ukraine) (6x4x0,4 cm) made from a very fine and homogeneous quartzite.
Other items were made from high quality flint. Streletskian Points are flat, triangular points with a concave base characterized by a bifacial covering retouch.
Such tools may be be strictly isosceles triangles or show an elongated triangular character. The concave base and the bifacial covering retouche are the most important hallmarks for a strict definition.
These artifacts were originally described by A.N. Rogachev (1957) from the Streletskaya site or Kostenki 6 station from the Kostenki-Borshchevo region at the Don in Russia.
During the following years Russian researchers coined the the term "Streletskaya point" (N.D. Prazlov), which is still worldwide in use today. If you are looking for a "fossil directeur" in the Paleolithic-here it is!
In analogy to other projectiles, Streletskaya points were probably dart-points propelled by spear-throwers.The dimension of the point shown here, is typical for these projectiles.
Together with this unique points, bifacial leaf-shaped points, "Poplar leaf points" and small endscrapers with continuous edge retouch, producing a roughly triangular or thumbnail design are also characteristic for the Streletskian.
Basic information about the Streletskian was already given in this Blog- see -here 2053 .
Here I will give a short update about new findings and interpretations, generated by international pluridisciplinar teams which try to overcome the discrepancies, that were probably inevitable due to different excavation methods, different interpretive approaches, National research traditions and the development or improvement of new dating methods in the past. I will focus on three questions:
- 1. What do we know about the spatial expansion of the techno-complex?
- 2. What do we know about the beginning and the end of the techno-complex?
- 3. does it make any sense to assign the Streletskian to a Middle or Upper Paleolithic and does the term "transitional industry" make any sense?
The most important site has been found at Sungir in the Klyazma Basin. In addition Bradley (1995) ascribed Biryuchya Balka on the Lower Severski Donets and Garchi 1 on the Lower Kama, in the Ural Region to the Streletskian. I suggest that more material could be found in local museums.
Suschky, the find spot of our Point would be localized on the Western Edge of the Streletskian sphere. The nearest distance to the above mentioned stations is at least c 400 km - not too much regarding the vast extension of the East Europan plain, with a low number of geographical barriers.
We should also consider the low number of known Paleolithic sites, most of them are deeply buried in loess leading to a still limited knowledge about the Paleolithic over the East European plain, biased by the Geomorphology of the region.
ad2: Dinnis at al. in 2021 published an extensive review of the older and new excavations for a more stringent Definition of the Streletskian of the Kostenki-Borshchevo region. A comprehensive Publication about the important Sungir site was recently published by Otte et al.
A critical reading by Dennis et al. revealed that Kostenki 1 North was far the best preserved area, undisturbed by taphonomic processes.
This layer contained the typical Streletskian Points and revealed a new C-14 date of 35,1 ± 0,5 k.a. BP, similar to older dates and was therefore deposited prior to deposition of the CI tephra ( >34.3 k.a. BP or 39 k.a. Cal BP respectively).
The AMS data were obtained by the isolation of hydroxyproline, an amino-acid, that is found almost uniquely in mammalian collagen. The method is suggested to be superior to remove contaminations from bone samples.
Kostenki 6 (Streletskaya 1 and 2) is of similar age and the characteristic artifacts were embedded prior to the deposition of the CI tephra. Although Kostenki 6 represents only a small artifactual sample (n=50), it nevertheless revealed the diagnostic Points and a larger bifacial knife. The non-bifacial ensemble contains typical Upper Paleolithic material, including one typical Dufour bladelet .
There are several problems with Kostenki 12, which consists of two strata, that seem to be partially intermixed. There is an unusual high number of typical Middle Paleolithic artifacts, only two typical diagnostic points, while other bifaces are rather similar to triangular points of the Moravany-Dlah-subtype with a convex base and crude elongated leaf-points.
It has to be mentioned, that the oldest technocomplexes at Kostenki (Kostenki 17 Layer II and Kostenki 14 Layer IVw) are about 1-2 k.a. older than the local Streletskian and show a fully Upper Paleolithic character, with affinities to the Protoaurignacian.
Localities, that have been detected outside the Kostenki area have already described in post 2053
Of great interest remains the Sungir site, dated to 33-34 k.a. BP by the hydroxiproline method, but maybe 2-4 k.a younger.
Beside an upper lithic inventory and diagnostic isosceles and elongated Streletskian points, Sungir is the site of the most strange and complex Upper Palaeolithic burials of at least 10 persons in Europe- see here: SUNGIR
ad 3: I have already criticized the term "transitional industries" in an earlier post. In my view the Streletskian is principally an Early Upper Palaeolithic Industry. Bifacial Elements are no proof for a Middle Paleolithic or have to be always linked with an preceding eastern Micoquian.
They appear in Upper Paleolithic technocomplexes in the East European Plain quite often. The same could be said about scrapers and denticulated tools at some sites.
A good example is the Mira Horse-Butchering Site near the center of the floodplain of the Middle Dnepr River with C-14 dates on two occupation layers at around ~32 k.a. cal BP. Beside backed bladelets, the lithic ensembles includes different side- scrapers including convergent scrapers / points, limaces and bifacial plano-convex points- similar to Moravany Dlah examples.
The equation that a flake based and bifacial technology is the signature of Neanderthals maybe valid only for Western Europe.
The makers of the Streletskian, especially at Kostenki remain unknown. Anyhow we should resume that the North European Plain was probably no an adequate habitat for Neanderthals.
Le Sungirien par S. Vasylyev, A. Sinitsyn, M. Otte (edit.) ERAUL147; 2018
E Trinkaus et al.:The People of Sunghir: Burials, Bodies, and Behavior in the Earlier Upper Paleolithic (Human Evolution Series); 2018
Did you know?:
The Battle of Poltava was a resounding victory for Peter the Great. He defeated Charles the XII and 14,000 Swedish cavalry with a superior force of 45,000 Russian soldiers. The battle lasted all day with the outnumbered Swedish soldiers making several valiant efforts against the superior Russian forces.
Ultimately the Swedish soldiers had taken too many losses to effectively continue the battle and Charles retreated to Moldavia for five years before he could finally return to Sweden. The captured Swedish soldiers were taken to St. Petersburg and they helped to build the great city.
From October 1941 to January 1942 the Germans attempted the invasion of Moscow and then suffered a counter-attack after the city had been defended. Operation Barbarossa called for the Nazis to capture Moscow in four months but the brutal Russian winter and the lessons of Napoleon were ignored.
The Battle of Smolensk slowed the Wehrmacht down and the tide was completely reversed at Moscow. - From The sin of underestimation
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-04-12_y3.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-12_y4.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-12_y1.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-12_y2.jpg
- Extern Link: www.academia.edu…Early_Upper_Palaeolithic_in_the_Russian_Plain_Streletskayan_flaked_stone_artefacts?auto=download
- Extern Link: link.springer.com…s41982-021-00076-7
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…download
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…figures?lo=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic
- Extern Link: www.cloverleaflocal.org…Chapter%2013%20Poltava%20the%20Battle%20That%20Changed%20the%20World-History%20Today%20March%202009.pdf
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…262384747_Ukraine_and_Russia_Legacies_of_the_Imperial_past_and_Competing_Memories
- Extern Link: donsmaps.com…sungaea.html
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…259538309_Geoarchaeological_and_Bioarchaeological_Studies_at_Mira_an_Early_Upper_Paleolithic_Site_in_the_Lower_Dnepr_Valley_Ukraine
- Extern Link: www.researchgaMira layer I flint artifacts. 1 – canted point with ventral thinning opposed to tip; 2 – canted side- scraper…235996450_The_archaic_to_true_Upper_Paleolithic_interface_the_case_of_Mira_in_the_Middle_Dnieper_area
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…241776053_Mira_a_new_late_Pleistocene_in_the_Middle_Dniepper_Ukraine_Preliminary_Report
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…251692238_The_Paleolithic_of_northeastern_Europe
2021-03-19 08:21:24 • ID: 2246
The Aesthetics of Paleolithic Artifacts
Statistical modelling techniques, recently introduced in science, revealed that in Africa the earliest human culture, the Oldowan started around 2.6 Ma, followed by the Acheulian at 1.8 Ma. (Alastair J.M. Key et al. 2021).
Ever since the Revolution in different dating techniques during the 1960ies, further refinements of methods led to a permanent "aging" of the beginnings of Tool-making, taking our imagination continuously back in time.
The sophisticated and elongated patinated Fint-Handaxe of this post was found in the mid 20th century at the “Ballastiere 2, Vailly, Aisne"-a site with abundant Acheulian Handaxes, mostly made from fine grained quartzite, but sometimes from high quality flint, too.
For a modern observer, such pieces have a special aesthetic appeal, and are therefore in the focus of collectors and Museum curators. For scientists, they are nearly worthless, because the Aisne gravels are neither in situ, nor can they dated at the moment- see: 1230
The theory of the aesthetic deals with the nature of the beautiful. It includes, amongst other issues, the physical beauty of the Human body and the experience of beauty in nature and art, to name just some examples.
Here I argue for aesthetics as a cross-cultural phenomenon, defined as a valuable sensual human experience.
The thinking about aesthetics in Europe is contested since the early Greek Philosophers and is still being discussed intensively today.
The ancient Greeks believed that beauty consisted of three major components including symmetry, proportion, and harmony and that these issues allowed an objective view of beauty.
Symmetry, in this view was an important characteristic of beauty. About the role of Symmetry in Evolutionary Anthropology- see: 1373 and 2209 .
However, even these early Greek philosophers held different perspectives of what beauty encompassed. The same holds true for the last Centuries in European Art History:
In Europe from the late Middle Ages until the 19th century, a certain idea of imagined “Classical Art” was essential in the definition of invariable beauty.
Anyhow the concept of beauty changed radically since the early 20th Century, when the act of Individual Creativity itself became the central issue for Modernism in Art and swept away Clasicism, following the development of a globalised, urbanised and industrial World.
Among other influences, the aesthetics of traditional African art became a powerful stimulus for early Modernists like Picasso or E.L. Kirchner(Figure 4). New Geometric Concepts were used by the proponents of Cubism, the early Marcel Duchamp (Figure 4) and the DADA- movement.
Colors became independent from their use in Naturalism for example by Chaim Soutine and the German Expressionism (Figure 4).
While the western artists knew almost nothing about the background of African art, they immediately recognised its spirituality and its power, breaking new ground, in artistic expression.
They immediately adopted the flatness of composition, the use of unconventional materials, techniques of fragmentation and Reassemblage, bright colors and the highly stylization of the human body.
It was this new attitude, that allowed to perceive Paleolithic paintings, sculptures and portable depictions of animals and humans, for the first time, as “Art”.
These new readings became only popular after the discovery of paintings and engravings, often hidden in deep caves or incorporated in the infills of Archaeological untouched Abris, by influential French Prehistorians early in the 20th Century.
As a consequence, symmetry, proportion and harmony lost their role around 1910 to 1920, but some aspects reappeared during postmodernism at the end of the century, although often ironically broken.
In particular, aesthetics during the last century became more subjective and individual on a global scale.
Homo Sapiens, our species, will newer know, if and how, our archaic ancestors perceived the Handaxe of this post in any aesthetic categories.
Regarding my personal view, the beauty of the Biface of this post results from the colors, the careful artisanal execution and the form of this example, while symmetry does not really matter.
If we assume that some Palaeolithic Handaxes were conceptualized far beyond their utilitarian use, we possibly should ascribe them to a specific aesthetics- an issue that should be evaluated more in depth, than the few publications and exhibitions, published till now (see attached external links, especially the text of Paul Galvez).
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-03-19_antiquitiesflinthandtool1532113.jpg
- Image: 2021-03-19_antiquitiesflinthandtool153211a.jpg
- Image: 2021-04-10_Duchamp_Marcel_.jpg
- Image: 2021-05-01_IMG_2964.jpg
- Extern Link: www.eurekalert.org…uok-twe032421.php
- Extern Link: www.sciencedirect.com…S0047248421000282?via%3Dihub
- Extern Link: link.springer.com…978-3-662-07142-7_9
- Extern Link: www.contempaesthetics.org…article.php?articleID=488
- Extern Link: athenaeumreview.org…
- Extern Link: www.metmuseum.org…815448
2021-03-13 15:18:53 • ID: 2245
The Rhodanian in the Gorges de Verdon
The Gorges du Verdon (Figure 1; Wikimedia Commons) is a large river canyon, indeed the largest in Western Europe, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of Southeastern France. It is about 25 km long and up to 700 metres deep and was formed by the Verdon River after the last glaciation.
In between the towns of Castellane and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the river has cut a ravine to a depth of 700 meters through the limestone mass. At the end of the canyon, the Verdon flows into the artificial Lake of Sainte-Croix.
Figures 2-4 display a convergent tool, found during the first part of the 20th century by Dr. Bousquet, a keen collector of Paleolithic tools.
It was found by him in a non named small cave with glacial paleonthological remains and some thick non- Levallois, mainly cortical flakes.
This convergent tool (scraper or point) was made from an elongated, heavily patinated elongated flint flake with Demi-Quina retouches and a typical middle Paleolithic design. There are some remnants of the original cortex on the base.
Techno-Typologically the Point / Convergent scraper fits well into the spectrum of the French Middle Paleolithic Rhodanian Facies.
The Rhodanian / (occasionally called Charentian oriental in earlier publications) superficially resembles the classic Charentian in the Aquitaine. The Rhodanian facies is found in the Rhone valley, Gorges du Verdome, Gardon and the Ardèche. Made on thick flakes, scrapers often show a retouche Quina or Demi-Quina.
Transversal and Double scrapers, especially Limaces and dejete examples and scrapers "a dos aminci" (secondary thinning) are characteristic for the Rhodanian Middle Paleolithic.
Bifacial points are often present. The operational sequences producing thick flakes are more diversified compared with the classic Quina Mousterian in the Perigord and the Charente including discoidal, laminar and Levallois patterns.
In the opinion of French researchers, the Rhodanian facies is far from the typical Quina facies described in the SW of France (in particular by the lack of the typical Quina debitage). It is mainly dated to the MIS 4.
A typical scraper from the Rhodanian at Soyons is to be seen here: 1648
It is difficult now to use the Bordesian term of Charentian for such ensembles, because of a high diversity of facies depending on raw materials and activities (Marie-Hélène Moncel, 2021 personal communication).
One of the most prominent localities containing Rhodanian Ensembles in the Gorges du Verdon is the Baume-Bonne site.
Baume Bonne consists of a cave and a large rock-shelter, which opens on the right bank of the Verdon, on the commune of Quinson, south of the department of the Alpes-de-Haute.
The site was introduced into the scientific discourse after promising sondages by Bernard Bottet in 1946 during a session of the Société préhistorique française à la Sorbonne in Paris and remained a reference of the local Palaeolithic (Bottet, 1946).
It was also the first large Palaeolithic Archaeological operation in the Haute Provence, while other parts of the region had been archaeological investigated already since the 19th century.
The cave filling was strongly modified by the dissolution and recrystallization of carbonates and phosphates, as well as by mechanical alterations and partial emptying and erosion.
The lithic industry is abundant and essentially made up of local rocks, flint (75%) and chaille (25%). It reflects a gradual evolution from an Lower Paleolithic with rare bifaces and poorly organized and economical debitage, to a Middle Paleolithic with well-controlled debitage, with a focus on diversified production.
Most strata have been absolutely dated by different methods (U-Th, ESR) which makes Baume Bonne an important site for the Middle Paleolithic chronology in S/E-France.
The deposits were characterized in particular by a long chronostratigraphic sequence, unique in this region, from late MIS10 to MIS 3.
Earlier Ensembles are characterized by rare Bifaces; Points de Quinson- see 1554 , Points de Tayac, "Protolimaces" according to de Lumely, abundance of the “Retouche écailleuse scalariforme”-most probably inevitable by the thickness of the blanks, Chopper and Chopping tools, Denticulated tools and Encoches.
Later Ensembles, beginning with MIS8 show a slow disappearance of Bifaces and Chopping tools and the advent of Levallois techniques, beside Kombewa, Discoid and laminar operational sequences. The evolving Rhodanian in special contains well executed bifacial foliates, highlighted in many Textbooks.
The gradual evolution of an early Middle Paleolithic at Baume Bonne has some counterparts in S-France near the Middle Loire Basin , especially at Arago- see: 1696 , over the lower levels (H, I and K) of Aldène Cave and at Orgnac 3.
In Spain, The Atapuerca Middle Pleistocene sites of Galleria and Gran Dolina show a similar evolutionary trend in sites ranging from around 500-300 k.a.
The Upper Palaeolithic at Baume Bonne is contested in strata after 32 k.a. and is characterised by Gravettian and Epigravettian ensembles.
Within this chronological and technological framework, the Artifact of this post could be possibly assigned to the Rhodanian and to MIS4.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Extern Link: www.prehistoire.org…515_pj_160119_152344.pdf
- Extern Link: journals.plos.org…journal.pone.0178550
- Extern Link: www.persee.fr…bspf_0249-7638_1947_num_44_5_2160
- Extern Link: halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr…document
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…32224844_La_grotte_de_la_Baume_Bonne_Quinson_Alpes_de_Haute-Provence_synthese_chronostratigraphique_et_sequence_culturelle_d%27apres_les_fouilles_recentes_1988-1997
- Extern Link: www.hominides.com…grotte-baume-bonne.php
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…32224850_LA_COMPOSANTE_LAMINAIRE_DANS_LES_INDUSTRIES_LITHIQUES_DU_PALEOLITHIQUE_MOYEN_DU_VERDON_SUD-EST_DE_LA_FRANCE
- Extern Link: journals.plos.org…journal.pone.0178550
- Extern Link: www.persee.fr…galip_0016-4127_1961_num_4_1_1187.pdf