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2019-03-15 12:01:37   •   ID: 2084

A Flèche de Montclus from the Languedoc

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This is a trapezoid with unilateral facial retouch (1,6 cm long), a surface find from the Languedoc, known as “Flèche de Montclus”, named after the Montclus rock-shelter, 20 km NW of Bagnols-sur-Ceze, Gard.

Excavated mainly during the 1950ies, this abri remains a key site for the Mesolithic and Neolithic and Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in S-France.

Unfortunately there are diverse stratigraphical and chronological problems encountered with the old excavations at the site and we will never know for sure if the “Epi-Castelnovian” strata (Microliths and indications for pottery), where these projectile points were found, represent the Meso-Neolithic transition or just a mix between late Mesolithic and Neolithic strata.

Old excavations and disturbed contexts led to a vivid discussion if the Flèche de Montclus is a "fossile directeur” for the late Mesolithic in Southern France France or in contrast highly characteristic for early Neolithic communities in this area. On the basis of available data the latter proposal has gained ground during the last years.

The beginnings of Neolithic lifeways in the western Mediterranean region date back to 5700 cal BC. It is believed that this development is a consequence of an expansion of early Neolithic groups from northern Italy to southern France.

Existence of these scarcely documented Impressa groups is dated between 5700 and 5600 cal BC.

Sometime later, about 5400 cal BC, a new archaeological culture appeared: the Cardial culture, which is thus far the best-documented early Neolithic culture in the western Mediterranean region.

Figure 2
The Cardial culture had a well-developed production economy that included foraging (cattle, sheep/goat, and pig) and farming (mainly emmer and einkorn wheat). The impressed decoration executed before firing the vessels obtained with the edge of a Cardium shell and the applied cordons are the most characteristic elements of this culture, which is attested from the Southern Alps to Iberian Peninsula.

At about the same time, Neolithic lifeways spread to the hinterland. This continental Neolithisation is mainly related to cultures other than the Cardial culture.

Another interesting model is based on the similarity of Flèches de Montclus and the so called Armatures du Châtelet (5600-5200 BC), trapezoids with a bilateral facial retouch, known from the final Mesolithic (Retzien) of the Loire-Atlantique and Vendée.

Figure 3
Here the use of facial retouch on trapezoids could indicate the early influence of already established Neolithic societies in the South on Mesolithic communities more in the North-West.

The last photo comes from an excursion guide from 1976, in part identical with the corresponding parts of the “ La Préhistoire française”. Here the Flèches de Montclus were displayed as a part of the “Epi-Castelnovian” culture at the Baume de Montclus Rockshelter.

2019-03-13 11:06:11   •   ID: 2083

Skills in Small Flake Production occured early during Human Evolution

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Small flakes and small flake-tools were often overseen in the Archaeological record. Alfred Rust was one of the first researchers, who described the phenomenon for certain Levallois-Mousterian strata at Jabrud in Syria- see: 1283

Another example is the Anisipodian of F. Bordes in the Aquitaine /S-W-France. Principally such early microlithism could be the consequence of raw-material, specific site- or tool-use or an indication for systematic recycling.

Microtraceology shows that such small flakes were used in butchering and woodwork activities.

And skilled small flake production occurred very early: Figure 1 and 2 show an obsidian flake (2,5 x 2 x 0,3 cm) with centripetal negative scars on the dorsal face, found more than 40 yrs ago at Melka Kunture in Ethiopia.

About Melka Kunture--see here: 1509 , here: 1233 , here: 1663 and here 1192

Recently, Galotti and Mussi described similar pieces from a late Oldowan~1.7-Ma BP from the Garba IVE-F site at Melka Kunture.

At Garba IV, small flakes were produced from unifacial unidirectional cores; centripetal/tangential cores and multifacial multidirectional obsidian cores.

The flake shown in this post with its centripetal negative scars was certainly detached from a centripetal non-Levallois core and may belong to an ESA context.

Anyhow, an Oldowan context can not proven for our exemple, found on surface- but note that similar flakes, but with Levallois characteristics, are known from the nearby Garba III MSA site dating to ca 100-150 k.a. BP.

During the late Oldowan at Garba IV flakes were transformed into notches (single, multiple and on two convergent edges); transversal, lateral and convergent side-scrapers and backed pieces.

This astonishing variability in lithic production is challenging the common view of a conservative and static Oldowan in East Africa.

Agam et al. reported another small flake based system from the Late Acheulian at Revadim, Israel. Revadim is an open-air site located on the southern Coastal Plain of Israel, 40 km southeast of Tel Aviv.

The assemblages, found here, are typical for the Late Levantine Acheulian, including handaxes, but in this case are dominated by flake production and flake tools.

At Revadim discarded flakes were recycled as cores for the systematic production of small sharp flake tools, called by the authors: cores-on-flakes/ flaked flakes (COF-FF).

The Authors stated: It is our opinion that lithic recycling was a basic and common practice at Revadim and that it should be regarded as an integral component of Acheulian lithic technology at large.

Furthermore, the appearance of lithic recycling in both Late Acheulian and Acheulo-Yabrudian assemblages, as is clearly demonstrated by assemblages recovered at both Revadim and Qesem Cave , suggests that lithic recycling was a fundamental and common Lower Paleolithic technology serving specific activities in the Levant and beyond

2019-03-12 09:12:20   •   ID: 2082

Middle Paleolithic from Croisilles in the Lower-Normandy

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These are some massive Bifaces from Croisilles, les Fours à Chaux.

Croisilles is a small village situated 80 km South / West of Caen in the Region in the Lower-Normandy, Department of Calvados.

Two ensembles of worked flint have been found here. One ensemble is Neolithic and the other consists of Levallois and Discoidal Cores found together with dozens of massive Handaxes. Most material comes from surface collections.

The handaxes were made of low quality chert and display an “Acheulian” character. Anyhow, based on geomorphological considerations coming from several sondages, they are currently dated to late MIS 4/ early MIS 3.

They are very different from other Middle Paleolithic material in Region- further information-see 1262 .

The raw material, from Croisilles is from the local bajocien silex, while the qualitative better flint that was used at Croisilles from the nearby Espins, located in the Cinglais territory is completely absent. Maybe it was not exposed during the last glacial.

At Espins an important Neolithic flint mine was excavated during the last years and revealed to be an important raw material source for the early Neolithic in the west of France.

2019-03-06 08:58:34   •   ID: 2081

Goats: An early component of the full Neolithic Package

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This is a terracotta jug from the late Bronze age of Northern Iran with a Rams head spout, dating to ca 900 yrs BC.

The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of C. aegagrus domesticated from the wild goat of Southwest Asia. Goats (Capra hircus) were among the first domesticated animals during the Neolithic in western Asia.

Bezoar ibexes are native to the southern slopes of the Zagros and Taurus mountains, and evidence shows that the goat descendants spread globally, playing an important role in the advancement of Neolithic agricultural technology where they were taken.

It is not by chance that the Goat appears in Iranian art for many thousand years and were mythological highly charged with symbolism..

Figure 2
Beginning between 10- 11 k.a. cal BP, Neolithic farmers in the Near East starting keeping small herds of ibexes for their milk and meat, and for their dung for fuel, as well as for materials for clothing and building: hair, bone, skin, and sinew.

Today over 300 breeds of goats exist on our planet, living on every continent except Antarctica and in a quite astonishing range of environments, from human tropical rain forests to dry hot desert regions and cold, hypoxic high altitude regions.

Archaeological data suggested two distinct places of domestication: the Euphrates river valley at Nevali Çori, Turkey (11 k.a. cal BP) and the Zagros Mountains of Iran at Ganj Dareh 10 k.a. cal BP). Other possible sites of domestication proposed by researchers includes the Indus Basin in Pakistan at Mehrgarh, 9 k.a. cal BP and other sites further East (China).

Studies on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences (Luikart et al) indicate there are four highly divergent goat lineages today. Luikart and colleagues suggested that means either there were four domestication events, or there is a broad level of diversity that was always there in the bezoar ibex.

A study by Gerbault and colleagues supported Luikart's findings, suggesting the extraordinary variety of genes in modern goats arose from one or more domestication events from the Zagros and Taurus mountains and the southern Levant, followed by interbreeding and continued development in other places.

Figure 3
Makarewicz and Tuross looked at stable isotopes in goat and gazelle bones from two sites on either side of the Dead Sea in Israel: Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) site of Abu Ghosh and the Late PPNB site of Basta.

They showed that gazelles (used as a control group) eaten by the occupants of the two sites maintained a consistently wild diet, but goats from the later Basta site had a significantly different diet than goats from the earlier site.

The main difference in the oxygen and nitrogen stable isotopes of the goats suggests that Basta goats had access to plants that were from a wetter environment than that near where they were eaten.

That was likely the result of either the goats being herded to a wetter environment during some part of the year or that they were provisioned by fodder from those locations.

That indicates that people were managing goats in so far as moving them from pasture to pasture and/or providing fodder by as early as 8000 cal BC; and that was likely part of a process that began earlier still, perhaps during the early PPNB (10,5-10,1 k.a. cal BP), coinciding with reliance on plant cultivars.

2019-03-04 11:33:31   •   ID: 2080

Twisted Handaxe from Swanscombe (MIS 11)

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This is an ovate / cordiform and twisted handaxe from the upper loam at Swanscombe; 9.5 x 7.5 cm from the Ex. collection of Dr Hugh Alderson Fawcett (1891-1982), UK.

Assemblages with concentrations of twisted ovates in Britain appear to demonstrate a strong chronological correlation toward late MIS11/ early MIS10.- see 1653 .

This hold true for the classic Swanscombe site and was recently confirmed by a further occurrence of an assemblage rich in twisted ovates, from Dierden’s Pit 0,5 km to the North/West of the primary Swanscombe locality.

Indeed, other British MIS 11 sites with twisted Ovates are known from the Solent Valley and Kent.

In Britain it seems that interglacial cycles have some specific signatures, which points to specific traditions of tool-making.

Twisted ovates are mostly found during MIS 11, Levallois techniques appeared in MIS 9–8, Bout Coupé handaxes are indicative of MIS 3 assemblages.

Ensembles with significant proportions of cleavers and ficron handaxes appear to be correlated with MIS 9 deposits, for example at Furze Platte and Cuxton (Bridgeland and White 2014).

It would not be wise to expand these patterns to continental West-Europe. Here the Levallois technique appeared first during MIS 9 and was predominant during MIS7.

MTA and the Bifacial Mousterian of N- France had their own patterns in time and space (MIS 5 and 3), different from the UK sites.

If we understand a twisted handaxe as not-accidental but as a deliberate choice of the knapper, we should ask, what was functionally gained by such a design.

A Suggestion could be, that twisted implements could be used not only as cutting tools but had certain screwing properties, that could be helpful in butchering carcasses more flexible.

Another idea that was put forward by White & Plunkett( 2004) that Z-shaped handaxes which were much more common than S- shaped twists may simply indicate "that the earlier knappers had a predisposition to right-handedness comparable with that of modern humans".

Much work for microtraceology, which has so far I am aware nothing done on this subclass of Handaxes.

Resources and images in full resolution:

2019-02-22 11:00:51   •   ID: 2079

The Venus of Draßburg from the late LBK

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The Austrian Province of Burgenland, located in the southeast of the small country was formed from parts of the Hungarian counties of Vas, Sopron and Moson following the dictate of the allied Forces after WW-I, the Great War, initiated and finally lost by the Emperor Franz Joseph I, and his German Supporters.

So called "Venus Figurines" and their ideological background during Paleolithic and Neolithic times were already discussed earlier in the Blog: see here 1398 ,here 1399 , here 1418 , here: 1342 , here: 1419 and here 1334

The “Venus of Draßburg” ("Drassburg"), Faksimile, Kirchhoff Collection,University of Göttingen, was discovered in August 1933 during excavations of the Burgenland State Museum, directed by Dr. med. Friedrich Hautmann at the Taborac of Draßburg in a Neolithic settlement pit.

The "Venus "is the 9.5 cm wall piece of a pear-shaped clay pot. On top of this, a stylized female figure with clearly pronounced gender features can be recognized in the technique of scratching and relief.

The vessel shape and human ornamentation are known by parallel findings from the Transdanubian Region and the Carpathian Basin, dating to the Early Neolithic (6-5 k.a. cal BC), especially to the late phase of Linearbandkeramik- the Zseliz/Želiezovce phase.

Beyond the material culture, homogeneous genetic traits were present over this vast area. The emergence and spread of the Central European LBK was recently genetically traced back to the western Carpathian Basin and LBK- populations in Transdanubia.

The common explanations of anthropomorphic items during the Neolithic (Mother Goodness; Fertility Goodness), discussed since many years, are uninspired and in general not helpful in the understanding of societies or religious systems 8000 years ago.

Maybe a modest inductive approach and more material found in future excavations will offer more insights. Therefore I have assembled only some simple observations:

  • Figurines and figural applications on vessels during the Central European LBK are notorious rare and certainly made only under specific and unknown circumstances.

    They do not seem to have been part of "everyday life". While the figural tradition was omnipresent during post-LBK times in the Balkans, it disappeared in the Western Parts of Central Europe

  • Antropomophic figures and anthropomorphic applications on vessels show always a fragmentary nature of the material. Breakage did not only occur along weak points, but appears deliberate.

    Fragmentation and destruction seems to have been an integral part of their use life. The so called Venus of Draßburg remains an unique sexualized expression during the LBK among other figural applications

  • Figurine production during the LBK in Central Europe seems often to be linked to mortuary practices, but also was found in dump pits

  • the only sexualized statuette, depicting a male with erect penis was found in an early LBK dump pit in Zschernitz (Saxony; Germany)

  • Zoomorphic applications mostly depicting cattle or pigs pottery containers also exist, and sometimes human and animal traits were mixed

2019-02-17 12:30:00   •   ID: 2077

Going Discoid at Lake Turkana

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This discoidal core is a surface find from the Northern Rift Valley, NW Kenya, Africa, at the confluence of Lake Turkana and the Omo River - further information can be found here 2060 .

The discoid core and the Levallois core are sophisticated prepared technologies of the Old World Paleolithic. The discoid core was classified into two sub-types, namely the unifacial and the bifacial classes.

Discoid exploitation is more often systematically bifacial than unifacial (see Boeda 1993): two fairly similar symmetrical surfaces created by removals were used as striking platforms and flaking surfaces, simultaneously or with alternate series of removals.

Uni-or bifacially flaked discoids appear earlier in the Archeological report, than other prepared core variants. Even during the Neolithic they did not loose their importance.

In Africa, discoid technology has a considerable time depth. The Gona site (Omo Region, Ethiopia), dated to 2,6-2,5 Ma by 40Ar/39Ar and by paleomagnetic stratigraphy, reveals one of the oldest Oldowan ensembles in the world.

The EG10 and EG12 lithics were deposited in fine-grained sediments and excavated within a primary geological context. Discoids are incorporated in the AH-10 unit.

In S-Africa, discoid cores in quartzite have described from the Oldowan of Sterkfontein. At Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania beginning near the base of Bed I, ca. 1,85 Ma, there are "Oldowan" (Mode 1) assemblages characterized by “choppers, polyhedrons, discoids, scrapers, occasional sub- spheroids and burins, together with hammer-stones, utilized cobbles and light-duty utilized flakes” (Leakey, 1971).

Discoid cores persist to play a role during the Acheulian. Examples are known from Melka Konture (Garba IV D, Ethiopia) within a LTC-Early Acheulean at 1,6 Ma.

Discoid cores in variable quantities are omnipresent in the East and South African late Acheulian and Middle Stone Age record, the latter is attested since 500 k.a.

In S-Africa, the Fauresmith industry which combines small refined handaxes with technological components characteristic of the MSA (prepared discoidal and Levallois cores, blades, Levallois points, convex scrapers), maybe as old as 542–435 k.a. (Wonderwerk Cave MU4 , Kathu Pan 1).

In the East African MSA, tools are characterized by points with unifacial and bifacial retouch on non-Levallois and Levallois blanks, partially made from Nubian cores, while Discoid cores are rare. This is the case at Gademotta (ETH-72-8B before 276±4 k.a BP; ETH-72-6 after 183±10 k.a BP) and at Kulkuletti (200–300 k.a BP).

At 250 k.a., at the Koimilot (GnJh-74) MSA site, west of Lake Baringo, in the central Rift Valley of Kenya discoid cores are predominant, but some Levallois cores also appear.

Western Asia: Early human peopling outside Africa is well established in the Near East, including the Caucasus, at 1,8 Ma at Dmanisi, Georgia and 1,0-1,4 Ma at Ubeidiya, Israel.

While only one example of a discoidal core comes from Dmanisi, discoids, spheroids, heavy- duty scrapers; bifaces, including trihedral picks are part of some of the Ubeidiya ensembles.

In South Europe, the unique findings from the Sierra de Atapuerca sites offer a chronological sequence that allows to evaluate the evolution of technology at a local scale during the Early and Middle Pleistocene.

The Mode 1 ensembles Atapuerca occurred at 1.2 Ma, and are represented in level TE9. A second phase is represented by the level TD6, dating to before 800 k.a.

This phase is characterized by by new subsistence and technological strategies, although the lithics are still Mode 1.

After a hiatus of about 300 k.a. the occupations of Galería and TD10 dating between 500 k.a. and 300 k.a., revealed the first discoidal prepared cores associated with H. Heidelbergensis.

Discoid core technology is also linked with the West European Acheulian. A good example is the Acheulean Settlement at the La Noira Site, a 770 k.a. old Occupation in the Center of France.

In larger parts of Europe, the Middle Pleistocene MIS 9–7 period is considered as a time of shift from the Lower Paleolithic to the Early Middle Paleolithic and therefore defined by a decline of Acheulian bifaces and an increase in the number of prepared core technologies- a technological system which remained stable during MIS 3-5.

Surf the Blog for more information: see here 1424 , here 1705 , and here 1085

2019-02-16 08:39:40   •   ID: 2076

The Ma'ayan Baruch Acheulian Mega Site in N-Israel

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The thick Handaxe of this post was found near the Ma'ayan Baruch Acheulian Mega-site at Banias, North Galilee; Israel.

It shows the typical cordiform appearance and patination of many Ma'ayan Baruch artifacts and a bifacial retouch on both faces and a high degree of symmetry, typical for the site. The base shows limited cortical remnants. The piece has a non-LTC appearance.

Ma'ayan Baruch (Hebrew: מַעְיַן בָּרוּךְ‬, lit. Blessed Spring) is a Kibbutz in northern Israel. It is located near the intersection of the Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese border at a strategic important location in the northern part of the Lake Hula plain.

The exceptionally rich Acheulian deposits at Ma’ayan Baruch were mainly collected by Amnon Assaf (1928–2018) who amassed, with the help of family and friends, during his life some 115,000 artifacts from North Galilee, which later formed the foundation for the Upper Galilee Museum of Prehistory at Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch.The Ma'ayan Baruch handaxe sample comprises approximately 6000 Handaxes.

The vertical dispersal of find spots makes it clear that there was significant post-depositional movement of the artifacts however, there is no evidence for high energy transport or abrasion.

Although systematic flint quarrying during the Lower and Middle Paleolithic at "extraction and reduction sites" (Nachal Dishon, Sede Ilan, Mt Achbara) are identified in the region, the source of Ma'ayan Baruch flint is currently unknown.

Figure 2
The Ma'ayan Baruch collection was described by Stekelis and Gilead in 1966 in detail. The authors suggested that this site might have been the centre of an even larger settlement zone.

The morphology of the handaxe shows a wide spectrum - cordiformes, elongated cordiformes, Micoquian handaxes, lanceolated and Almond-shaped bifaces , ovates and disc like forms. Most items show a high symmetry, comparable with distant collections like Boxgrove / UK and different from GBY and Ubeidiya.

Cleavers are also present, in contrast to the paradigm that GBY is the only site in the region with cleavers. This compromises the common opinion, that cleavers must be always an African signal in the Levantine early Paleolithic.

Non-Levallois Flake tools are rare in the collections, but well executed (mainly convergent scraper), their frequency is certainly underestimated by their lower visibility in the field during during the early collecting operations.

During the 1970ies the thousands of bifaces found there without a stratigraphy seemed to have no equivalent outside of Africa and were, in this respect, comparable with African Mega-sites like the Rift Valley sites Kariandusi or Olorgesailie.

In North Africa, especially in the Sahara, large ESA scatters over surfaces thousands of square meters in diameter are literally “paved” with handaxes and cleavers, which may be explained by their visibility on denudated and eroded surfaces, provisioning places with tools ready usable, occupation frequency and repeated visits over time.

Figure 3
Anyhow, the popular view of African connections seems a little bit biased towards the "out of Africa" paradigm. The region around El Kowm in Syria and the enormous cluster at St Acheul in the Somme Valley in N-France with ten thousands of Handaxes findings from the 19th century were equally rich.

Flakes and chips in the collected material are rare and Bar-Yosef and Belmaker (2011) have suggested that the actual manufacture of the handaxes may have taken place further north in the Litani valley. Sampling bias could be another important explanation.

How old is the site? It is certainly older than the Acheulo-Yabrudian, and therefore older than 400 k.a. This is also substantiated by the absence of Levallois artifacts. Regarding techno-typological considerations it is younger than GBY at 800k.a. A 500-600 k.a. time slot seems therefore to be reasonable.

Surf the Blog: see here 1176 , here 1171 , here: 1545 , here: 2068 and here 1460

2019-02-14 13:31:02   •   ID: 2075

Lithics from the Far East: The case of Kamchatka

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Figure 1: These are 4 artifacts from the South/West Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian North-East. Two items (Figure 1; Nr 2 and 3) are made from Obsidian, one is a partially bifacial pointed tool and the other formally a convergent scraper.

The first item is a slightly curved bifacial "knife" (Figure 1; Nr 1) made of calcedony. The last artifact (Figure 1; Nr 4) is a good retouched unifacial double scraper made of Chert.

Kamchatka Peninsula lies in the northeast of the Russian Far East, washed by the Pacific Ocean and Bering Strait to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west. The area of the peninsula itself is approximately 270,000 square kilometers.

The peninsula has mostly mountainous terrain; the Sredinny (“Central”) and Vostochny (“Eastern”) Mountain Ranges stretch across the whole peninsula almost parallel to each other, and the northern part of the peninsula is occupied by the Koryak Mountains.

Figure 2
Located on the Pacific rim of fire, Kamchatka has 29 active volcanoes, countless geysers, boiling mud cauldrons, steam vents, earthquakes, and other forms of seismic activity (Figure 2: Wikipedia).

Influenced by its latitude and long oceanic coastline, wetlands, stony barrens, volcanic lava, coastal sands, and tundra dominate the subarctic landscape.

Indigenous people, living in acephalous societies, relied on fresh water fishing and large sea mammal hunting at the coast and reindeer herding in the interior of the peninsula, before they were "discovered" by Russian explorers after 1639.

Figure 3
This provoked the usual consequences-you certainly know the famous quote of Georg C. Lichtenberg - "The American who first discovered Columbus made a bad discovery".

There are only a few reports about early indigenous life- the most readable comes from Georg Wilhelm Steller (Beschreibung von dem Lande Kamtschatka. Frankfurt und Leipzig. 1774).

Earliest settlement: The famous Ushki Lake sites were extensively excavated by Dikov between 1964 and 1990. They represent large Paleolithic camps - the earliest in the northern Far East.

Site Nr. 1 and 5 revealed a stratified late Paleolithic. The Level VII at Site 5 was re-dated in 2003-before the advent of strict pretreatment protocols and statistic modeling- to 13 k.a. cal BP.

It was characterized by a core and flake industry with small bifacial leave- and stemmed- points, bifacial "knives", and good side- and endscrapers.

Figure 4
In layer VII Dikow discovered traces of hearths and dwelling structures and a burial. The burial pit was filled with charcoal and abundant lumps of red ochre. On its bottom amber beads and biconically drilled pendants were detected.

The advent of Micro Blades: Some researchers think that first traces of microblade production on Kamchatka are already known from the earliest level (Level VII) of the Ushki Lake sites. This issue seems to be controversial. I personally noted only a marginal lamellar component but no typical cores in the published literature.

Wedge-shaped Microblade cores in abundance appear in the next higher level (VI) and were dated between 12-11 k.a. More about pressure flaking and Microblades -see here 1517 .

It is not surprising that the discussions about the interpretation of the Ushki Lake succession, the Change from a bifacial to a micro-blade technique are far from being closed.

Researchers supporting cultural historic approaches, which are still well established in the local scientific community, prefer an ethnical replacement model, while others prefer multiple functional and ecological explanations)- these are late Echos of the Binford-Bordes debate....

Figure 5
It is important that well developed leave -shaped projectile points are also part of Stratum VI but morphologically they differ from the stemmed points in Layer VII.

The lithic traditions during the Pleistocene to Holocene transition and the Holocene, called within the local scientific tradition "Neolithic" (ca. 6–1,5 k.a.BP), saw renewed changes in lithic production, especially by the introduction of micro- prismatic techniques into the established wedge-shaped microblade core system.

Microblades seem to have been parts of multicomponent hunting devices, their development could have been triggered by activities oriented towards seasonal salmon fishing, which began during the late Paleolithic with an increase during the Early Holocene.

Obsidian Sourcing: First results revealed the distance of obsidian movement during the late Upper Paleolithic, (Ushki 1,2,5), was 200–300km and remained high (90km - 470km) during the "Neolithic".

Finally, during the "Palaeometal" (postneolithic) period, long distant transport with distances up to 450-560km was evidenced.

In Sum the artifacts shown here could be 13000- or only a few 100 years old. They demonstrate the great beauty and variability of Kamchatka lithic artifacts and the use of very different materials with different knapping properties.

2019-02-12 10:37:42   •   ID: 2074

Human Interaction during the Iberomaurusian

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These are several Epipaleolithic artifacts from an isolated Algerian surface scatter, found in the 1940ies, dating between 25 and 8 BP. The could part of either an "Iberomaurusian" or "Capsian" scatter. Both industries are characterized by backed implements. see here 1316 , here 1050 , here: 1372 , and here 1517

The Iberomaurusian is an fully Upper Paleolithic industry found largely focused on the coastal zone of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. It is also known from a single major site in Libya, the Haua Fteah, where the industry is called the "Eastern Oranian". Pallary (1909) originally described the industry based on material found at the site of l'Abri Mouillah.

It is characterized by abundant backed bladelets, very few burins, rather banal, simple endscrapers, a few geometric segments, and, among other things, a peculiar piece/piquant "Mouillah point" , made by the micro-burin technique.

The Iberomaurusian seems to have appeared around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), somewhere between c. 25 and 22 BP or during the following Heinrich Event I 19-14.6 BP and would have lasted until the late Pleistocene c. 11 k.a. cal BP.

The name of the Iberomaurusian means "of Iberia and Mauritania". Pallary (1909) coined this term to describe assemblages from the site of La Mouillah in the belief that the industry extended over the strait of Gibraltar into the Iberian peninsula.

This theory was subsequently discredited, because an Iberian-African connection has not been proven, but the name remained. To avoid such confusion, this entity is now described as “Late Upper Paleolithic” of Northwest African facies (Barton et al.).

In Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, but not in Morocco, the industry is succeeded by the Capsian industry, whose origins are unclear. The Capsian is believed either to have spread into North-Africa from the Epipaleolithic Near East, or have evolved from the Iberomaurusian. Genetic evidence supports the latter posibility.

While we know numerous sites from the Iberomaurusian and Capsian, industries from an earlier Upper Paleolithic in N-Africa are rare.

The period between the Middle Paleolithic (a Levallois-Mousterian with or without pedunculated pieces) which begins during OIS6 and ends at ca 40 k.a. BP) and the onset of the precisely dated Late Upper Paleolithic (the Iberomaurusian) is one of the most enigmatic phases in the Maghreb and Northern Africa.

An Early Upper Paleolithic between 26-20 k.a. BP seems to exist, but there are only a handful of sites with poor material. Common features in all these assemblages are the absence of Levallois technique, a tendency toward production of blades or laminar flakes, and the notable appearance of backed pieces.

Such inventories are known from Kehf el Hammar in the Western Rif and from the Grotte de Pigeons at Taforalt.

At sites like Ras el Wadi or Shakshuk in Lybia, Early Upper Paleolithic inventories with blade technology were excavated. There are AMS dates from Shakshuk of ca. 30 k.a. for the early upper Paleolithic and 16 k.a. for the Iberomaurusian.

Where did the people of the Earlier Upper Paleolithic in the Maghreb come from? Regarding the discontinuity between the "Aterian" and the Upper Paleolithic, it is speculatedthat they probably came from the east (via the Nil valley? via the Levant?).

Loosdrecht et al. (2018) analyzed genome-wide data from seven ancient individuals from the Iberomaurusian Grotte des Pigeons site near Taforalt in eastern Morocco. They found a genetic affinity with early Holocene Near Easterners, best represented by Levantine Natufians, suggesting a pre-agricultural connection between Africa and the Near East.

We do not find evidence for gene flow from Paleolithic Europeans to Late Pleistocene North Africans. The Taforalt individuals derive one-third of their ancestry from sub-Saharan Africans, best approximated by a mixture of genetic components preserved in present-day West and East Africans.

Thus, we provide direct evidence for genetic interactions between modern humans across Africa and Eurasia in the Pleistocene.

This is a first important step in the understanding of population genetics of the Iberomaurusian interaction sphere. The Maghreb during the late Paleolithic was not a "cul de sac" and human interaction was more intensive, than suggested before..