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2019-05-18 17:09:26   •   ID: 2103

The last Neanderthals at Bons-Tassilly

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Figure 2
These are two 10-11 cm long Handaxes from Bons-Tassilly. One Item is seconarily modified into an ad-hoc cleaver by detaching a broad tranchet blow as seen in Figure 2.

The Lower Normandy (French: Basse-Normandie) is a former administrative region of France, but the term is still broadly used.

The region includes three departments, Calvados, Manche and Orne.

In the Normandie archeological sites are preserved in natural “traps” like cliffs, granite passages or hollows, and sinkholes.

Only a minority of the sites are in primary position, many are in secondary position. The level of reconstruction of the paleoenvironmental and regional paleogeographical context is generally “partial” and “fragmentary”.

Bons-Tassilly / Le Châtelet was detected by the Physician and Author of successful Books about Prehistoric artifacts and their function Dr J.-L. Piel-Desruisseaux during the early 1980ies ( J.-L. Piel-Desruisseaux, Outils préhistoriques. Forme-fabrication-utilisation).

Several thousand artifacts, among them hundreds of Bifaces were detected and tentatively, on geomorphological grounds, dated to a phase between 80-40 k.a. (MIS4/3).

The debitage is shows an Uni- and Bi-polar Levallois approach. Scrapers are the most common unifacial tool class.

Handaxes are small, among them (Sub)-Cordiform and (Sub)- Triangular artifacts are the most common.

Overall the ensemble has a workshop character similar to sites that belong to a cluster of middle Paleolithic production sites in the Normandy.

Saint-Brice-sous-Rânes, la "Bruyère" (Orne) is the most prominent of these sites, but has another character of the debitage system (non-Levallois).

About the Bifacial Mousterian in N/W-Franc see here: 1179 , 1501 , 1250 , 1585 , and here: 1077

2019-05-17 10:03:48   •   ID: 2102

The Levallois Technique at Le Moustier G

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Figure 2
Figure 1: Right and Left:These are two elongated Levallois flake / knifes made from typical dark Senonian flint from Le Moustier G. In the Middle we see a typical elongated Mousterian Point from the same site.

Figure 2: Illustrations from Peyrony about the Le Moustier findings.

The MTA assemblage from Le Moustier layer G (MIS3 with a TL-Date of 50-55 k.a. BP)-see here: 1487 shows an ensemble that is characterized by a recurrent centripetal unidirectional Levallois concept with production of a series of unidirectional blanks. The Le Moustier G-ensemble is mainly composed of Senonian flint which displays gray to black colors.

Elongated blanks are common and were often used for the production of backed knifes.

Techno-typological analysis of non-biased material led to the re-attribution of layer H at Le Moustier to the Discoid- Denticulate Mousterian, instead its designation to an MTA-B. The small number (n=16) of bifaces in Peyronys Stratum H were clearly recycled from the MTA-A in Stratum G.

A recurrent unidirectional centripetal Levallois concept in S/W-France has been described at Fonseigner (upper parts of layer D; (TL-Date: 50-55 k.a. BP) and La Plane (layer I; ca. 75 k.a. BP), but also in level 9 of Bourgeois- Delaunay and in level 51 of Abri Suard (La Chaise-de-Vouthon, Charente) both dated to about 120 k.a. BP and attributed to a “Mousterien Typique”.

In the Levant at ca. 100 k.a. BP (Date depending on the dating technique) “Tabun-C” assemblages (Tabun Beds 18–26 , Qafzeh Level L/Units V–XXIV, Ras el-Kelb Railway Trench A–D and Tunnel Trench J–O) are also described as based on Levallois recurrent centripetal methods.

Blanks in these ensembles tend to be relatively large and ovoid in shape.

In summary a unidirectional recurrent Levallois concept was used in S/W-France at least over a time span of 70000 years. The same concept appears to be prevalent in the Levant during OIS 5.

If these trends belong to a continous "tradition" or are part of recurrent independent inventions remains open for discussion.

2019-05-14 12:29:35   •   ID: 2100

Shark Tooth Biface from Thenon / Perigord Noir: MTA or older?

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This is a thin and delicate «Shark Tooth» Biface made from a large flint flake (11x8,5 cm), with bifacial retouches around the entire circumference, found decennia ago at Thenon (Perigord Noir) about 30 km North of Les Eyzies and at 28 kilometers East from Perigueux in S/W-France.

Such items are extremely rare in the Archeological report. Formally they were described as a sub-type of triangular Bifaces.

For Bordes a triangular biface was a piece of developed, working and balanced morphology; they are flat pieces with three rectilinear or slightly convex edges, they must be flat and with a short, straight base.

He distinguished small variations within these strict limits such as elongated triangular (Elongation Index > 1,5) or pieces with slightly concave edges.

Bordes named the latter «Sharks Tooth» for their similarity to the fossilized teeth of Carcharodon megalodon (an example is shown in Figure 3).

Bifacial retouches run around the complete circumference, therefore from a functional point of view all three margins were usable, which calls for some hafting devices.

Only two European Sharks Tooth Bifaces were published so far. The first came from Saint Sauveur (Dordogne). This artifact was published both by Bordes and Dibble / Debenath; were they not able not find a second example?) and randomly assigned to the MTA.

The second one is from Moulins-sur-Céphons (Département de l'Indre). Here "classical Acheulian Bifaces" were mixed (?) with some cordiformes and a Sharks Tooth Biface.

Unfortunately the site is a surface scatter. The context of the artifacts (Acheulian or MTA?) and the homogeneity of the series remains unclear.

Regarding the fact, that no systematic excavations have been reported from Saint Sauveur (Dordogne), The MTA assignation of Sharks Tooth Bifaces remains completely tentative.

The same holds true for the artifact in this post, an isolated "House garden find". While morphologically and technologically the shark teeth Bifaces would fit to an MTA, this has not been proven in detail.

Figure 5
Anyhow, Sharks Tooth Bifaces appeared in the Old World Archeological record much earlier than MIS 3 (TL-dates for the MTA in S/W-France) and were not rare at Tabun Stratum Ec (Lower Acheulo-Yabrudian ca. 350 k.a. BP).

Another example, certainly also a convergent phenomenon is the presence of Sharks Tooth Bifaces in Nubia near Wadi Halfa, on the shores of "Lake Nubia" (the Sudanese section of Lake Nasser).

Here large scatters of Bifaces were detected on the surface by the Guichards in the 1960ies. Some typological studies on the material suggest that there is an early, middle and late Acheulian represented at some of these sites, but such assumptions were based solely on typology and are as ambiguous as elsewhere.

Figure 6
Because the Bifaces were always associated with some Levallois debitage it is more probable, that the Wadi Halfa findings represent a specific regional late Acheulian maybe, compared with Tabun Ec, of similar Middle Pleistocene age.

Of great interest at the Wadi Halfa sites is the common occurrence of rare Biface-types: "Hypermicoquid Handaxes", Massiform, Lageniform, Reniform Handaxes and last, but not least: Sharks Tooth Bifaces.

In Addition, some of these these variants also were detected at Khor Abu Anga near Karthoun (see 2085 ).

Illustrations about Shark teeth Handaxes are shown in Figure 5: Left- from Tabun (Garrod and Bate 1937) ; Right- from Wadi Halfa, Nubia (Guichard and Guichard 1965).

2019-05-13 09:20:13   •   ID: 2099

Some remarks on Cannabis in Prehistory

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The centre of origin of the genus Cannabis is considered Central Asia, although some scholars offer East Asia or Europe.

Figure 1: Cannabis (from the Vienna Dioscurides - an early 6th-century Byzantine Greek illuminated manuscript of De Materia Medica).

Figure 2 is from from Leonhart Fuchs's ''Das Kräuterbuch'' of 1543 (Fig 162: Wikimedia Common).

Figure 3 is from Franz Eugen Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen of 1878.

The preferred designation of the plant is Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and of minor significance, Cannabis ruderalis. Today they are seen as three varieties of one species, C. sativa L (Partland 2018).

According to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, Cannabis is defined as “the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops) from which the resin has not been extracted, by whatever name they may be designated.”

During historic (and prehistoric) times, Cannabis was utilized for three commodities:

  • bast fibre (for cordage and textiles). Hemp is a bast fiber plant similar to Flax, Kenaf, Jute, and Ramie. Long slender primary fibers on the outer portion of the stalk characterize bast fiber plants

  • seed (food, seed oil). Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, ground into hemp meal, sprouted or made into dried sprout powder. Hemp seeds can also be made into a liquid and used for baking or for beverages such as hemp milk and tisanes. Hemp oil is cold-pressed from the seed and is high in unsaturated fatty acids

  • medicinal use and psychoactive drugs: see below

What makes the plant so interesting for Neuroscience are the presence of so called Cannabinoids, complex chemical compounds, that naturally occur in the resin of the Cannabis plant.

Among the over 420 known constituents of cannabis, more than 60 belong to the cannabinoids, which chemically belong to the terpenophenols, the most prominent of which are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC; primarily psychomimetic) and Cannabidiol (CBD; primarily sedative).

Several Cannabinoids, including THC but not CBD interact with via two specific transmembrane G-protein-coupled receptors, that were classified as the CB1 and CB2 receptors.

CB1 receptors are found abundantly in regions of the brain responsible for mental and physiological processes such as memory, high cognition, emotion, and coordination.

Accordingly high receptor densities were found in Thalamic and Hypothalamic regions, the Amygdala and other neural circuits of the Limbic System, the Dopaminergic Reward System and other regions, while CB2 receptors are found throughout the central nervous and immune systems.

Figure 2
Endocannabinoids play a fundamental role in regulating pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, body movement, awareness of time, appetite, pain, and sensory processing (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight), and brain development.

Endocannabinoids acting at CB1 receptors (and possibly CB2 receptors) modulate and “fine-tune” signaling in most brain regions, to enable the brain to adapt to signals generated by multiple sources.

Today we know Cannabinoids are basically derived from three sources:

  • Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoid compounds produced by plants Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica

  • Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters produced in the brain or in peripheral tissues, and act on cannabinoid receptors

  • Synthetic cannabinoids, synthesized in the laboratory, are structurally analogous to phytocannabinoids or endocannabinoids and act by similar biological mechanisms

Paleoenvironmental records of cannabis include fibers, pollen, achenes and imprints of achenes. Partland et al. and Long et al. have recently published meta-analytic reviews of archaeological literature to identify trends and patterns in prehistoric cannabis use (see external links).

From the Archaeological record, it often remains unclear, whether findings of Cannabis refer to an agricultural or pharmaceutical context or even both.

Early use of Cannabis bast fibres (for cordage and textiles)? Remarkable evidence for very early yet sophisticated fiber use has been found as impressions on artifacts discovered in the Czech Republic at the Upper Paleolithic Dolni Vestonice I and Pavlov sites located on the slopes of the Pavlov Hills above the Dyje River in the South Moravian region.

At Pavlov impressions of knotted nets survived in clay which maybe have been used to capture birds.

The textiles, basketry, and cordage specimens represented in the impressions were made of plant rather than animal fibers, though an identification of the species used is impossible.

The Ohalo II site, a well-preserved Epipaleolithic settlement submerged in the Sea of Galilee, Israel also contained cordage dated to about ~21 k.a. BP.

The only surviving Palaeolithic fragments of ropes are preserved as apparent natural casts come from Lascaux (19 ka BP), but it has not been possible to determine the material used in its construction.

These findings show that the differentiation of Cannabis from other fibers in archeological contexts is difficult and cannot be made by micro -morphology alone. More sophisticated, DNA- based techniques, already developed for a forensic context should be applied as reported by Dunbar and Murphy (2019).

Figure 3
They found that a DNA-based differentiation between ropes made from Cannabis sativa L. (hemp), Agave sisalana Perrine (sisal), Musa textilis Née (abaca, "Manila hemp"), Linum usitatissimum L. (flax), and Corchorus olitorus L. (jute) is possible with a high degree of certainty.

Early use of Cannabis seeds ?The morphological diagnosis of Cannabis seeds is much more easier than made by fibers and even traits of domestication can confidentially be determined by seeds.

New discoveries from the early Holocene affirm the antiquity of Cannabis use in East Asia. Cannabis seeds were recovered from a Jōmon site in Japan and date to 8 k.a. cal BCE.

In northern China, Zhou et al. (2011) recovered seeds at a site associated with the Yǎngsháo culture (5–3 k.a. cal BCE). Seeds from the Jōmon and Yǎngsháo sites already show traits of domestication (Portland 2018).

Surveys of Neolithic agriculture in Europe do not report evidence of Cannabis. The situation changes during the Chalcolithic period. Seeds and pottery seed impressions identified as Cannabis are known from S/E Europe during the Cucuteni–Tripolye (C–T) culture and the contemporaneous Gumelniţa culture in Romania.

Several sites in Ukraine and Romania, associated with the early Bronze age Yamnaya culture (3,5-2,3 k.a.BCE) yielded pottery seeds and another Yamnaya site in Ukraine yielded textile fragments identified as hemp or flax. There can be little doubt that these findings are a first strong signal for Cannabis Domestication in Europe.

The Catacomb culture (2,8–2,2 k.a. BCE) shows even more robust evidence for the domestication and for a possible ritualistic use of Cannabis.

" A Bronze Age burial at Gatyn Calais in the North Caucasus, possibly a Catacomb grave, contained Cannabis seeds in a vessel. An inventory of Catacomb pottery reported soot or charcoal in many censers, with pottery ornamented by cord impressions.

The author presumed hemp was burned in the censers, and she named hemp as the most likely candidate for the cord impressions. Several Bronze Age cultures following the Catacomb also evidence Cannabis usage
" (Partland et al. 2018).

The Metaanalysis of Long et al brings us back to Bronze-Age Asia and transcontinental connections.

They describe a sharp rise in Cannabis use that occurred in East Asia around 3 k.a. BCE, after the start of the Bronze Age.

The researchers associate the spike with the establishment of a trans-Eurasian exchange and migration network through the Mongolian steppe.

Nomadic tribes on the Eurasian steppe had recently mastered horse riding and could cover vast distances. They forged trade routes that thousands of years later would become famous as the Silk Road.

The Yamna or Yamnaya people of Central Asia, which are genetically among the ancestral founders of the post-Neolithic European civilization (see here: 1482 ) dispersed to Europe and eastward to Asia at the same time Cannabis was first distributed.

In their study, the researchers suggest that the multi-regional use of S/E-European and E-Asian cannabis led to the creation of cannabis as a cash crop. It may even have been a driving factor behind transcontinental trade.

2019-05-03 12:53:01   •   ID: 2097

The Reutersruh Site: Acheulian East of the Rhine

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These are Lower to Middle Paleolithic artifacts from the Reutersruh site near Ziegenhain / Schwalmstadt about 30 km North of Kassel. We recognize (from left to right) a simple scraper, a Tayac point, a Pseudolevallois point and a prepared-non Levallois-core.

The site was already detected by a local teacher, Adolf Luttropp, during the years 1938-39, but a first small publication appeared only after the end of WW II in 1949.

Figure 2
In North Hessen, near Kassel, there are numerous outcrops of fine-grained tertiary quartzite. The rocks appearing on the surface make agricultural works impossible on several Paleolithic sites, this is why they were not destroyed, as shown by this areal view from the site in Figure 2 (first described by Luttropp, 1955). See also: 1360 , here 1624 , here: 2027 , here: 1712 and here 1735 .

The Reutersruh has a clear workshop character and relatively course grained quartzite was used during the (non dated) Early, Middle and late Paleolithic.

Anyhow, the abundant material available at the site has permitted the analysis of different techniques and the partial reconstruction of reduction sequences (Luttropp and Bosinski, 1971).

Unfortunately Cryoturbation and other Geological process have disturbed and mixed the strata- as shown during test excavations by Luttropp and Bosinski.

What is pretty clear that the mayority of the Handaxes show an Acheulian Character. They are rather large (> 10 cm); are produced by hard hammer Technology and offen show a zig–zag circumference.

What is quite unique in the Middle European Paleolithic is the presence of Flake cleavers. Maybe a convergence phenomenon but nevertheless a Characteristic one for the Acheulian complex. Similar European examples are known from the Bergeracois and parts of Iberia.

The Acheulian from Reutersruh and several nearby sites is an exception from the rule that there was no Acheulian east of the Rhine- and indeed most Handaxes of Central Europe may be part of the KMG.

The cores of the site are often very large Levallois and Discoid cores with many ”special types” like “Barrenförmige Kernsteine"- a term that may be subsumed in W-Europe under other names.

Simple scrapers could be of Early or Middle Palaeolithic Origin. Faustkeilblätter and mostly broken Leafpoints show KMG characteristics.

Some diagnostic Aurignacian tools are present and together with other artifacts from nearby sites representative for this entity at the N/W- Edge of the Aurignacian influence in Europe- see here: 1625 .

Figure 3 was taken during a visit in 1983.
Figure 3

Suggested Reading:

Adolf Luttropp: Paläolithische Funde in der Gegend von Ziegenhain. In: H. Müller-Karpe (Hrsg.), Hessische Funde von der Altsteinzeit bis zum frühen Mittelalter. Schriften zur Urgeschichte2, 1949, 5-18.

Gisela Freund: Zur Typologie der paläolithischen Funde von Ziegenhain. In: H. Müller-Karpe (Hrsg.), Hessische Funde von der Altsteinzeit bis zum frühen Mittelalter. Schriften zur Urgeschichte 2, 1949, 19-20.

Adolf Luttropp / Gerhard Bosinski: Der altsteinzeitliche Fundplatz Reutersruh bei Ziegenhain in Hessen. Fundamenta. Monographien zur Urgeschichte Reihe A Band 6. Köln 1971

2019-05-01 09:34:08   •   ID: 2096

The Mousterian of the Swiss Jura

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This is a elegant elongated Mousterian Point made from silex de Pleigne, Löwenburg ( Swiss Jura). It is very similar to another point from this site- see:

During the Middle Palaeolithic, the Jura Mountains constituted a pronounced barrier for human movements. Only the north-eastern and south-western extremities of the arc-shaped mountain chain were regularly frequented.

However, most of the caves and rock-shelters in these two zones are situated at low altitudes, below 500 m ; sites located at higher positions are rare. Open air sites like Löwenburg, known since the 1960ies are an exception.

Many new Mousterian sites were detected by Motorway construction in the Ajoie region. Most of the sites are situated in the Allaine Valley near to the flint outcrops.

Figure 2
The Ajoie is a historic region roughly coinciding with Porrentruy District in the canton of Jura in northwestern Switzerland.

The Allaine (French: l'Allaine (f), in its lower course l'Allan (m)) is a 65 km long river in northwestern Switzerland and eastern France. Its source is above the village Charmoille, in the Swiss Jura mountains.

It is a right tributary of the Doubs, which it joins a few km downstream from Montbéliard, where it takes the Savoureuse with it, a river with its sources in the southern Vosges.

Unfortunately the material found in the Ajoie region is most often in a secondary position. Anyhow, the oldest occupations seem come from MIS 5e/5d (Pré Monsieur-Ensemble A and Noir Bois-Niveau lower Mousterian), followed by ensembles from the beginning of MIS 3 (« niveau moustérien supérieur » at Noir Bois and other localities. A late phase may be present at the end of MIS 3 (the dolines de Vâ Tche Tchâ à Courtedoux and à Saint-Brais).

The operational sequences of these sites, including the large multilayered Cotencher site further South/West are diversified. There is no indication of a real Quina System, but the technique is predominantly recurrent centripetal Levallois, sometimes with a strong discoid element and a marginal blade production.

Scrapers are the most common tool class. Some researchers use the retouched tool component ("Bogenspitzen",specific subclasses of scrapers) to reconstruct a common tradition to the Rhineland sites (Wallertheim, Balve IV), while earlier work suggested connections with the "Charentien oriental" of S/E-France and the Middle Rhone valley, focusing on other tools (especially on Racloirs à dos aminci)- see here 1648 and here 1455

I suggest that such interpretations are heavily biased towards a typological approach.....

2019-04-29 08:39:24   •   ID: 2095

Phylogeny and Convergence in Lithic Technology

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figures 1 and 2 show a 9 cm long classic "Quina" scraper made of homogeneous jasper, found in the Western Sahara more than 50 years ago.

Similarities in two distinct technological traditions can be either indicate a common ancestral tradition (Homologies) or are the result of several traditions independently having invented tools with similar forms and/or functions (Convergence).

Without little doubt the artifact of this post is a convergence phenomenon to similar Quina-artifacts in S/W-France.

Overall, there is much evidence to suggest that convergence is much more common than expected and that it can take place at different scales, from particular artifact traits to overall tool shapes, as well as in manufacture techniques.

For the Middle Paleolithic / MSA this holds true for different prepared core techniques, either emerging from the Acheulian or "de novo" of convergent tools, often called "Points"- to name just two prominent examples.

In the Archaeological record there are diagnostic clues for convergence:

  • large spatial distance between similar tools or techniques

  • a considerable chronological gap between similar tools or techniques

  • specific variance between the tools beyond replication failure

The distance between the Western Sahara and S/W-France speaks for convergence, especially regarding the absence of a common ancestral Quina" tradition around the Mediterranean.

Suggested Reading: Convergent Evolution in Stone-Tool Technology edited by Michael J. O’Brien, Briggs Buchanan, and Metin I. Eren (Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology) . The MIT Press. A wealth of information about this important issue!

Resources and images in full resolution:

2019-04-22 16:39:20   •   ID: 2094

Outpost of a new Levantine Lifestyle: Sickle Blades from Fayum

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Goring -Morris and Belfer-Cohen recently redefined the Levantine Neolithic:

We prefer to use the terms‘Early Neolithic’and‘Late Neolithic’ when referring to what is usually termed ‘Pre-Pottery Neolithic’and‘Pottery Neolithic’, respectively, since ceramics and pottery have been consistently reported within ‘Pre-Pottery’Neolithic contexts.

The ‘Early Neolithic’ encompasses the PPNA (ca. 9600 - 8750 cal. BC) represented by the ‘Khiamian’ and the ‘Sultanian’ entities, and the PPNB (ca. 8750 - 6900 cal. BC).

The ‘Late Neolithic’ comprises the ‘Yarmukian’ and ‘Lodian/ Jericho IX’ entities (ca. 6900 - 5500 cal. BC)
. What is clear is that parts of the Neolithic lifestyle entered Fayum relatively late.

Figure 1 shows bifacially pressure-flaked, unilaterally serrated sickle blades, with a retouched bifacial truncated base, a hallmark of the Fayum Neolithic-see here 1427 , here 1438 , here: 1225 and here 2087 .

They are part of elaborated bifacially- retouched tools that were present at Fayum in the middle of the 5th millennium cal. BC.

Caton- Thompson (1934) mentioned pointed and rectangular forms from the Fayum Neolithic.

The pointed and wide form was very common not only at Fayum (Kom K and Kom W for example) but also at the Levels II, III, IV and V of Merimde Beni Salama which are known to be present in the middle-late 5th millennium BC.

Narrow examples with coarse serration may be even earlier in date than the wide form with fine serration.

Not only sickles, but also large projectile points, axes, knives were made by bifacial technology during the Fayum Neolithic. Slightly after that, similar items appeared in neighbouring sites like Merimde Beni Salama and El-Omari, and this lithic tradition persisted in the Badarian culture of the 5th-4th millennia cal.BC in the Nile Valley of Middle Egypt.

The bifacial sickles had forerunners in the Levant during the late Neolithic ("Lodian"), while the concave-based arrowheads (Figure 2), and other tool classes were not related to faming, but attest hunting adaptions and are known neither in the southern Levant nor in the Egyptian Western Desert.

Sickle blades are apparently for harvesting cereal crops, and their first appearance in Egypt is most likely related to the diffusion of farming from the southern Levant to somewhere in Lower Egypt. The southern Levant has a long history of sickle blade making.

According to some synthetic studies of the development of sickle blades in the southern Levant sickle blades of the PPNA and PPNB were usually made from large blades or blade segments with slight lateral side serration, and thus their body form was narrow.

It was in the PPNC and Pottery Neolithic Yarmukian culture in the 7th millennium BC that sickle blades were made from blade segments or flakes and were sparsely and deeply serrated bifacially on one or two lateral sides though the body was not thoroughly pressure-flaked bifacially.

It was only in the Pottery Neolithic Lodian culture of the early middle 6th millennium BC that flakes were thoroughly pressure-flaked bifacially, and their one lateral side was densely and shallowly serrated. Their body form tended to be wide.

Such elaborate sickle blades declined in the southrn Levant in the subsequent Wadi Raba and Qatifian cultures of the late 6th - early 5th millennia BC, and coarse serration on one lateral side of a blade or blade segment became common
. (Shiai 2018).

Figure 2
The sickle blades of the Fayum Neolithic are most similar to those of the Lodian, but the sickle blade of the Lodian type disappeared in the southern Levant approximately 1000 years before they appeared at the type sites of the Fayum Neolithic mentioned above

How to explain the chronological gap between Fayum and the Lodian?- several propositions have been made, the most probable is that bifacial sickle blades appeared earlier than it can be proven by the limited C-14 data.

It remains unclear if the "Lodian" component at Fayum was the consequence of diffusion of ideas and / or people- but maybe Paleogenetic studies will settle this issue.

2019-04-11 08:15:12   •   ID: 2093

Reading the Paleolithic Femal Body

Figure 1
This is a highly stylized, “fork-shaped” female body representation from Dolni Vestonice I with an longitudinal incision in the lower part of the “trunk” indicating a vulva (facsimile, courteously by the Kirchhoff Collection; Göttingen).

In 1924 Absolon began the excavations near the village of Dolní Vestonice, also known by its German name Unter-Wisternitz, located at the foot of the Pavlov Hills in South Moravia in the present Czech Republic.

Previous surface finds in hollow roads cross-cutting the loessic slopes had indicated the presence of Upper Palaeolithic occupation. After a successful first year, the excavations continued in 1925 and ended with the finding of the famous "Venus" of Dolni Vestonice, a ceramic statuette of a nude female figure dated to the Pavlovian.

The artifact, shown in this post, was found at Dolni Vestonice I during the 1935-37 campaigns. It was made of mammoth ivory and perforated at the top, so it may have been worn as a pendant.

Unfortunately we lack of further contextual informations. A similar roughly contemporaneous piece is known from the Predmost Pavlovian.

Stylization and "pars-pro-toto" ivory carvings of the woman’s body are common at Dolní Věstonice I.

Note the external links for the other objects. One of the most famous artifacts from the site is a female representation in the form of the rod with breasts, which on the other hand could also a representation of the male genital, and a set of 8 highly stylized beads showing female breasts of various sizes ( 9 - 32 mm), probably worn as a single necklace.

Despite its reputation for openness to research on sexuality, anthropology as a discipline has only reluctantly supported such work. Anthropological research and theory developed very slowly maybe because sex is the most private of activities and often carries a high emotional charge and therefore it is peculiarly difficult to investigate.

Naive Projections of modern Sexuality to Palaeolithic times prevail since the beginning of Prehistoric research- see here 1418 . Absolon saw the stylized female representations from the Pavlovian Mega- sites just as Playmates or as "diluvial plastic pornography" (Absolon 1949).

When the so called "Hohle Fels Venus", dated to ca. 35 k.a. BP was uncovered 10 years ago at a Swabian cave, the statement of Sir Mellars, an eminent British Prehistorian, was remarkable:

"with an exaggeration of sexual characteristics (large, projecting breasts, a greatly enlarged and explicit vulva, and bloated belly and thighs) that by twenty-first-century standards could be seen as bordering on the pornographic" Mellars 2009).

Such remarks show that the common "scientific" view of the female Paleolithic Body is under-theorized at least, or at worst just the personal view of some influential old white man.

Of course we speak about sexuality when talking about these artifacts (contra Chang and Novel), but not in the naive "biologic" sense of P. Mellars et al.

Sexuality is more than invariable “nature”, instead sexuality includes numerous ways in which sex and gender is enacted, enjoyed, experienced and socially organized and construed in various cultures.

Paleolithic sexuality was certainly constructed very different, even strange for the modern observer, compared with sexuality of the Western World during the beginning of the 21th century.

2019-04-03 10:02:29   •   ID: 2092

Terramare: Tools made from Animal Hard Materials after the Stone Age

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Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5
These are tools made from animal hard organic materials from N-Italy (Bologna region) typical for the Bronze-Age Terramare complex.

While the systematic use of animal hard materials began early during the African MSA, it gained more importance during the Upper Paleolithic-see here 1677 , here 1676 , and here 1100 . In many parts of the world the use of animal hard materials persisted until historical times. Terramare vilages show an exceptional preservation of organic materials.

Terramare, Terramara, or Terremare is a prehistoric complex mainly of the central Po valley in Northern Italy dating to the Middle and Late Bronze Age ca. 1,7-1,1 k.a. cal. BC.

While the antiquarians until ca 1850, thought that Terramare were the funeral or sacrificial areas, used by the Romans or Gauls, it was Luigi Pigorini, one of the fathers of the Italian Prehistory, who in 1862 perceived that the settlements were prehistoric.

The settlements in question are villages, generally quadrangular in plan, surrounded by imposing earthworks and wide moats.

Dwellings were often built on raised platforms in a dry, but sometimes wet environment, supported by pilings. There is currently no commonly accepted explanation for the piles.These settlements were usually situated near water courses.

The Terramare, in spite of local differences, is of typical form; each settlement is trapezoidal, with streets arranged in a quadrangular pattern.

The whole is protected by an earthwork strengthened on the inside by buttresses, and encircled by a wide moat supplied with running water.

Water was a critical resource that was carefully managed. Moats that enclosed most of the sites were built to concentrate and redistribute water to the fields through a dense network of irrigation ditches.

The political system of the Terramare groups remains unknown. There are larger towns ("nodes"), which are seen as centers and smaller, more peripheral one.

Although the Bronze age is a period of increasing mobility, most inhabitants of the Terramare communities, did not move more than 50 km during their lifetime, as indicated by strontium-87 (87Sr) and strontium-86 (86 analysis.

This hold true for males in special, while women moved farer, indicating exogamy within the a broader hinterland radius (Cavazutti et al 2019).

Ceramic and excellent metal products are abundantly are represented in the Archeological records, lithic industries are poor with minor variation but the objects made from animal hard materials (bone, teeth and antler) show by their number and quality, that they played an important role in the activities of daily life.

A large subgroup of this production are the pointed artifacts: They are subdivided into three sub-groups: the first is composed of large tools made either from antler or long bones (mostly split metapodials and the ulnae of deer and cattle): functionally they are often seen as "daggers" (Figure 5 courteously by Werner Hernus).

The second includes small pointed objects, rather common since the late Paleolithic in Europe (needles, awls, double points as seen in Figure 1 and 2).

The third sub-group includes the projectile points which were very common since the early Terramare and quite varied from simple pyramidal, to arrowheads with 2, 3 or even 4 barbs.

An simple stemmed projectile point is displayed in Figures 3 and 4. These weapons are often made of antler (Provenzano 2001).

After 1,1, k.a. BC the Terramare settlemnts were completely abandoned within a short time, and the region remained uninhabited for several Hundred of years.

It is suggested that a period of dry climate affected an environment already stressed by over-exploitation of natural resources by a large demographic increase as convincingly argued by Cremaschi (Cremaschi et al. 2006).

"The present research confirms a multi-causal explanation for the terramare disappearance, in which the climatic component, after the recent discovery in Santa Rosa, appears likely to have played a role. Nevertheless, the main factor still remains the environmental stress induced by anthropogenic over-exploitation of resources and uncontrolled demographic pressure. This interpretation is further supported by the fact that in the areas surrounding the terramare, which were marginal during the apogee, the civilization (specifically the Apennine and the Veneto plain), there was no break in occupation and the local cultures of the Final Bronze age overcame the crisis which was fatal to the terramare". (Cremaschi et al. 2006)