2019-07-04 16:29:01 • ID: 2109
An Epipaleolithic Projectile Point from Adrar Bous
Adrar Bous is a granite massif of 12 km diameter in the Aïr Mountains on the western edge of the Ténéré Desert, Niger. Here I display an 5,3 cm long typical Ounanian Point from the Region- for further information see here 1541 and here 1544 .
Archaeological research at Adrar Bous, has produced finds spanning the Late Acheulean, Aterian, Epipaleolithic through to the Ténérian and remains of contemporaneous non-Ténérian Pastoralist complexes- see 1019 and 1368 .
Most notable are extensive remains of ritualized feasting by specialized Tenerian cattle pastoralists.
The first Archaeological observations have been made by Commander Joubert before 1940; they were summarily published by R. Vaufrey, who was impressed by the quality, size and beauty of “Ténérian” artifacts, mainly made of high quality vitric green tuff, then called green jasper.
A better knowledge of the Adrar Bous sites was acquired during the Berliet expeditions to Ténéré in 1959 and 1960. Five decades after the Berliet missions, a major scientific mission brought new isights into the local stratigraphy, especially focusing on the differentiation between the Epipaleolithic and subsequent Pastoral complexes.
Ounanian Points, known since the 1930s are undoubtedly a marker of Epipaleolithic trans-Saharan contacts, human diffusions and replacements. They are found in the Eastern Sahara, in the Acacus, in northern Niger, in northern Mali, and to the north-east of Mauritania, where they are rare.
The age of these artifacts seems to be decreasing from east to west, especially if we include the Harif-Ounanian points from Egypt into consideration, which corresponds to the idea scientists have today of the first Holocene settlement of the Sahara.
The Epipaleolithic Ounanian is widely present in northern Mali, as shown by Raimbault (1994) who studied in particular the site of Telig, whose reliability is guaranteed by a burial under a lake level and the absence of any Neolithic component.
“The context of the Telig deposit makes it possible to envisage a previous installation at the maximum of the wet Holocene phase around 8000 BP" (Raimbault 1994).
In a different style the Epipaleolithic of Foum Arguin, between the Wadi Draa, the Gulf of Arguin and the western foothills of the Adrar, could be related to the Ounanian. It was also the work of hunter-gatherers who did not know ceramics and agriculture followed the local Pastoral complex only 1,5 k.a. later. (Vernet 2004)- see: 1260
Suggested Reading: Robert Vernet: Le golfe d'Arguin de la préhistoire à l'histoire : littoral et plaines intérieures (via academia.edu)
Adrar Bous: archaeology of a central Saharan granitic ring complex in Niger / J. Desmond Clark et al. Tervuren, Belgium : Royal Museum for Central Africa, 2008.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-07-04_sl1600.jpg
- Image: 2019-07-04_sl16002.jpg
- Extern Link: journals.plos.org…journal.pone.0002995
- Extern Link: books.google.de…books?id=fUy8gejsmSIC&pg=PA8&lpg=PA8&dq=tenerian+vitric+tuff&source=bl&ots=37Rjal7-zg&sig=ACfU3U2RZhD7ne5-hvKpvaIE8g1ZnIUP3g&hl=de&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj2uPC1v5vjAhX1ShUIHZVVDJwQ6AEwAnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=tenerian%20vitric%20tuff&f=false
- Extern Link: www.academia.edu…Regards_sur_une_région_préhistorique_méconnue_des_confins_du_nord-ouest_saharien_IKOSIM_n_3_2014
2019-06-27 16:40:09 • ID: 2108
Quartz Arrowheads from the early late Holocene in Senegal
These are some examples of arrowheads, exclusively made from Quartz, coming from a large surface scatter in N- Senegal. The typology of these artifacts, presumably from the second millennium BC, differ somewhat from their earlier counterparts in the Sahara, described by Hugot during the 1950ies, but this may be explained by the morphological constraints of the splintery raw material.
The operational sequence begins with the detachment of small flakes (max 2 cm long) from homogeneous quartz. Subsequently the margins of the arrowheads were retouched. In a further step the upper face was covered with flat retouches. The lower face may completely plain or was also covered by flat retouches, sometimes only over a limited part of its surface.
Until the 3rd millennium BC, the Neolithic occupation of West Africa was concentrated in the mountains of the Sahara (Tassili n'Ajjer, Hoggar, Adrar des Iforas and Aïr), to the paleolakes of the Taoudenni Basin and the Banc d’Arguin wetlands in Mauritania.
Human groups mainly practiced hunting and fishing in a more or less wooded savannah environment. Cattle breeding, which appeared during the 7th millennium BC, was then extended to the entire Taoudenni basin. The Ténérian-see 1019 and here: 1368 is a typical complex of such pastoral societies, although there is much variably, regarding raw material and artifactual composition.
In the Sahel, traces of occupation dating from this period are more rare and take the form of microlithic quartz industries, sometimes mixed with shards of pottery. These remains are interpreted as the material manifestations of hunter-gatherers who, in contact with the Saharan populations, adopted "Neolithic" technologies such as ceramics. Quartz remained a preferred raw material even during later times.
At the turn of the second millennium BC, the aridification of the climate intensified and the current climatic conditions are progressively taking place: a long dry season, interrupted in summer by two months of rains linked to the West African monsoon.
The northern limit of the Sahel changed from 22 ° N to 17 ° N during three millennia, leading to shrinking and then disappearing of savanna areas around the mountain ranges and the gradual drying up of paleolakes and Saharan rivers.
From the second millennium BC, the sites are nevertheless fewer in the Sahara than in the Sahel. The occupation is also becoming denser south of Sebkha in Mauritania, around the inner Niger Delta and in the Gao regions of Mali and the Niger river valley.
The hypothesis most commonly used to explain this phenomenon is that the aridification of the climate would have led the Neolithic societies of the Sahara to migrate to the current Sahelian zone.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-07-03_senegal_full.jpg
- Image: 2019-07-03_Adansonia_digitata_in_Saly_Senegal_2007.jpg
- Image: 2019-07-04_senegal10.jpg
- Image: 2019-07-04_senegal2.jpg
- Extern Link: eros.usgs.gov…
- Extern Link: commons.wikimedia.org…File:Adansonia_digitata_in_Saly,_Senegal_2007.jpg
2019-06-15 14:01:08 • ID: 2107
The Earliest Middle Paleolithic at St. Acheul (Amiens)
This is a rather small Handaxe (10 cm long) found as early as 1874 at St. Acheul-it was former Part of the Evans and Dewey collection. The morphology of this artifact is not typical for the Lower Paleolithic around Amiens.
St. Acheul provides a deep stratigraphy between MIS 15- MIS 3. The last Acheulian with elongated and pointed handaxes was found in the “limon fendillé” (Sol de Rocourt; Last Interglacial; MIS 5e).
According to V. Commont, the oldest Middle Paleolithic at St Acheul was present in the gravels between the “limon fendillé” and the lower sandy “ergeron” a greyish loam (« limon gris de Ladriere; Sol de Warneton»)- therefore after MIS5e and before MIS4.
The “egeron” has been identified as representing MIS 5c (Brörup interstadial)- the first phase of climatic improvement of the beginning of the Weichselian glacial, characterized by the formation of a grey forest soil under a boreal forest- and MIS 5a (Ødderade interstadial)-a temperate interstadial, characterized by the formation of a second grey forest soil.
This Middle Paleolithic is currently designed as a Mousterian of Acheulean tradition and includes Mousterian Points and scraper together with many Levallois flakes which are not retouched.
The handaxes are of different morphology: Commont described wonderful flat cordiform and triangular items similar to others in N-France (St Juste en Chaussee, Catigny, Marcoing…) to but also smaller Bifaces, similar to the Bifacial Mousterien in the Orne Region and thicker and cruder forms, like the one that is shown in this post.
According to the associated fauna (Mammoth, Reindeer...), Commont called this part of the sequence: “Mousterien ancient a faune froide”.
It is clearly not the first Middle Paleolithic in the Amiens area: At Montières, see: 1627 , 1519 , 2059 , Victor Commont in 1912 described a Middle Paleolithic assemblage, produced from Levallois flakes, which included numerous elongated blades made by a volumetric technique and pointed handaxes.
This ensemble is attributed to MIS 7 associated with a temperate fauna and represents one of the earliest Middle Palaeolithic of continental north-west Europe with a volumetric laminar débitage is present.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-06-15_acheul1.jpg
- Image: 2019-06-15_acheul_2.jpg
- Extern Link: www.prehistoire.org…515_pj_131216_190606.pdf
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…282287836_Timescales_space_and_culture_during_the_Middle_Palaeolithic_in_northwestern_France
- Extern Link: www.skb.se…TR-13-03.pdf
2019-06-09 10:06:53 • ID: 2106
Archeologists and Collectors: Different Worlds
Here I display early 20th century findings - a Middle Paleolithic scraper from Venosa (Basilicata, Italy; Figure 1 and 2) and a small Handaxe from Fontmaure (Vienne, France; Figure 3).
While the first item was part of a private collection of a Professor from Padua, the second comes from the Excavator of Fontmaure L. Pradel, parts of his collection were sold after his death.
Science is the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of natural phenomena.
The reliability of the scientific results can be verified or falsified by the replication of the investigation, the validation by other investigations and by theoretical models.
Therefore, science is an open process, working with hypotheses that can be verified or falsified.
Paleolithic archaeology has become a highly specialized, interdisciplinary scientific discipline, therefore, there can be no hobby archaeologists- as there are no hobby doctors.
Most of the founders of modern Prehistoric research were keen collectors themselves, and even F. Bordes gave away artifacts from Corbiac as "souvenirs" to others.
Today there are virtually no points of contact between scientists and collectors of Paleolithic artifacts, which is the logical consequence of the professionalization of Archaeological science and the unproven paradigm, that collecting artifacts will inevitably stimulating looting. For some archeologists, collectors are criminal, dull and ignorant creatures.--but that's it...
Collectors of Paleolithic artifacts may find Paleolithics during systematic field-walks ideally under the auspices of local authorities, others are more interested in the beauty and aura of exceptional pieces or representative tool-kits from a provenanced location see: 1392 .
Collectors are deeply emotional involved in their collections, they are an important part of their Identity, and well-being. I know collectors, who assemble "fossil directeurs" from the French Paleolithic, collect only perfect symmetrical Handaxes, assemble exceptional lithics from Eurasia and Africa- the motives for a collection are manyfold....
The common view of Archaeolocists, that antiquities are collected for gaining social prestige is reductionist, dismissive and insufficient. The same hols true for psychopathological interpretations, although collectionitis occures in certain individuals.
Regarding the fact that many thousands of Paleolithic artifacts were amassed in large Collections during the late 19th and early 20th century, especially in France, where private activities were allowed until 1941, the collector can choose from items circulating in collectors networks without getting involved into legal issues.
There is simply no need to acquire items from looting operations and of course Collectors should develop a sensible ethical view on collecting. A network between other collectors remains the best option for the acquisition of legal and authentic Stone tools.
Anyhow, even the fact that Paleolithic artifacts in private hands are decontextualized, they may be recontextualized, which is far the best what a collector can do with scientifically uninteresting stone tools- for his/her own pleasure and the pleasure of others.
Suggested Reading: Erin Thompson: Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-06-09_venosa_ventral.jpg
- Image: 2019-06-09_venosa_dors.jpg
- Image: 2019-06-09_FONTMAURE.jpg
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…259433955_The_Illicit_Antiquities_Trade_as_a_Transnational_Criminal_Network_Characterizing_and_Anticipating_Trafficking_of_Cultural_Heritage
- Extern Link: pdfs.semanticscholar.org…8854d3529cbeed8b2254e39518f4e616a5d3.pdf
- Extern Link: wpmedia.outlandish.com.s3.amazonaws.com…2015-Brodie-ICOM-Internet.pdf
2019-05-24 12:15:40 • ID: 2104
The Late Middle Paleolithic of the Aisne Valley
This is an unusual large (9 cm long) quadrangular Levallois flake from Pont Arcy in the Aisne Valley, most probably made by the “preferential” or “linear” Levallois technique.
It is characterized by multiple small continuous abrupt ("Ouchtata-like") retouches over its entire circumference.
The dorsal edges are damaged, most probably by post-depositional processes, creating a "Pseudo-Truncation" on the distal part. It does not look like a facetted truncated piece or "Kostenki edge".
This artifact was found by a Parisian collector, during the years 1905-1910 at the Aisne and remains without any contextual information, like most of the Paleolithic findings in this area.
The river Aisne belongs to the drainage basin of the river Seine in northern France. It rises in the forest of Argonne, at Rembercourt-Sommaisne, near Sainte-Menehould. It flows north and then west before joining the Oise near Compiègne.
A quarter of this distance the river flows through the rolling chalk landscape of Champagne. For the remaining distance the valley cuts through Tertiary limestone plateau, forming a flat-bottomed corridor with steep sides.
The valley floor is covered by gravel terraces with loam on top. A Pleistocene loess cover is almost non-existent, contrary to what is observed in other valleys of the northern part of the Paris Basin, that of the Somme in particular.
The Paleolithic of the Aisne Valley is well known but remains for its larger parts virtually undated and from secondary context. It is often highlighted in Museums like the Metropolitan Museum (see attached link)- but more as an example of excellent workmanship or even early art, than for its scientific value see here 1221 , here 1430 , here: 1230 , and here 1424 .
In particular, abundant Acheulian findings with magnificent bifaces have found during the 19th/early 20th century. They perfectly are comparable to those of the late Acheulian of the Somme.
The same holds through for the non-dated Middle Paleolithic. Therefore, the Middle Paleolithic Levallois in-situ findings at Courmelles, attesting an occupation on a plateau site, dated to MIS 5a are one of the rare exceptions from the rule of secondary contexts at the Aisne.
Most artifacts are made from Quartzite, but the use of homogeneous flint, if available, was not uncommon, especially during the Middle Paleolithic.
Small scatters of Large Levallois Flakes without or with retouches are not rare in nearby parts of N- France and usually belong to MIS 4/3 boundary. They have been interpreted as the remains of short-term hunting camps.
The site of Havrincourt, excavated during the construction of the Canal Seine-North Europe revealed "eight Levallois flakes, four of which are extremely large, in primary position. They are contained in brown silt correlated to the end of the Lower Pleniglacial or to the very beginning of the Middle Weichselian Pleniglacial.
These flakes are standardized and reflect the interest in creating a specific shape and size. They were produced outside the excavated zone (2,000 m2) and used on site (or in the immediate vicinity of the site), as shown by the use-wear study and the faunal remains.
The neighbouring site of Hermies “le Tio Marché” revealed the presence of similar flakes. The preferential Levallois flakes could have been mislaid or deliberately discarded at the site (Goval et al. 2015).
Several researchers have noted that the repeated use of a Preferential Levallois technique during MIS 5 and 3 for the production of large thin flakes was one successful technological choice of Neanderthals in the creation of standardized debitage during the late Middle Paleolithic in N- France
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-06-12_20190524_vae.jpg
- Image: 2019-06-12_20190524_imgq_2.jpg
- Extern Link: www.metmuseum.org…754048
- Extern Link: www.persee.fr…bspf_0249-7638_1961_num_58_7_3771
- Extern Link: www.persee.fr…bspf_0249-7638_1960_num_57_7_3481
- Extern Link: www.persee.fr…pica_1272-6117_1982_hos_1_1_1677?q=aisne+paleolithique
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…271511892_Hunting_Camp_at_the_end_of_the_Middle_Palaeolithic_at_Havrincourt_Les_Bosquets_Pas-de-Calais_France
- Extern Link: journals.openedition.org…347
- Extern Link: de.wikipedia.org…Datei:Levallois_Preferencial-Animation.gif
2019-05-18 17:09:26 • ID: 2103
Late Neanderthals at Bons-Tassilly
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 , 1250 , 1585 , and here: 1077
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-05-18_tassilly_1.jpg
- Image: 2019-05-18_tassilly.jpg
- Extern Link: www.google.com…url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&ved=2ahUKEwiYr7mVq6XiAhUJsaQKHQ6NBKIQFjAHegQIBBAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fjournals.openedition.org%2Fquaternaire%2Fpdf%2F6755&usg=AOvVaw2ZujtB64RyGPdjkZ_k8wSb
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…251037345_Technologie_du_debitage_laminaire_au_Paleolithique_moyen_en_Europe_septentrionale_Etat_de_la_question
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…30435687_L'abri_sous-roche_du_Rozel_France_Manche_un_habitat_de_la_phase_recente_du_Paleolithique_moyen_dans_son_contexte_geomorphologique
2019-05-17 10:03:48 • ID: 2102
The Levallois Technique at Le Moustier G
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.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-05-17_20190330_Le_Moustier.jpg
- Image: 2019-05-17_LeMoustierG1.jpg
- Extern Link: www.sciencedirect.com…PB
- Extern Link: www.nature.com…322452a0
- Extern Link: citeseerx.ist.psu.edu…download?doi=10.1.1.539.71&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…276173966_MTA-B_or_not_to_be_Recycled_bifaces_and_shifting_hunting_strategies_at_Le_Moustier_and_their_implication_for_the_late_Middle_Palaeolithic_in_southwestern_France
2019-05-14 12:29:35 • ID: 2100
Shark Tooth Biface from Thenon / Perigord Noir: MTA or older?
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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).
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.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2019-05-13_Cannabissativadior.jpg
- Image: 2019-05-13_Fuchscannabis.jpg
- Image: 2019-05-14_Cannabis_sativa_Koehler_drawing.jpg
- Extern Link: www.sciencedirect.com…cannabinoids
- Extern Link: www.who.int…6_2_cannabis_update.pdf
- Extern Link: www.britannica.com…hemp
- Extern Link: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov…can.2018.0039.pdf
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…320990529_Cannabis_utilization_and_diffusion_patterns_in_prehistoric_Europe_a_critical_analysis_of_archaeological_evidence
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…304536111_Cannabis_in_Eurasia_origin_of_human_use_and_Bronze_Age_trans-continental_connections
2019-05-03 12:53:01 • ID: 2097
The Reutersruh Site: Acheulian East of the Rhine
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.
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.
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