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2019-03-22 18:00:33   •   ID: 2088

Humans and Cats: The Prehistory of a Special Relationship

Figure 1
A large genetic Study revealed five clusters, or lineages, of wildcats (Felis silvestris). Four of these lineages corresponded exactly with four of the known subspecies of wildcats.

The fifth lineage, however, included not only the fifth known subspecies of wildcat-Felis silvestris lybica, the Levantino-African subspecies-but also the hundreds of domestic cats that were sampled, including purebred and mixed-breed felines from the U.S., the U.K. and Japan (Driscoll et al. 2007).

The wild ancestor of all domestic cats is therefore Felis silvestris lybica (Figure 1; GNU Free Documentation License; Wikipedia)

Wildcats are strictly solitary hunters. Therefore it is important for cats to establish a hunting territory, defined in such a way as to generally avoid conflict with other cats.

Cats therefore mark their territories using scent derived from facial glands, urine, faeces, and anal glands. This territorial marking, together with the extremely sensitive sense of smell, helps cats to communicate effectively and to minimise direct conflict between themselves.

Wildcats are solitary, territorial hunters and lack a hierarchical social structure, features that make them poor candidates for domestication.

Indeed, zooarchaeological evidence points to a commensal relationship between cats and humans lasting thousands of years before humans exerted substantial influence on their breeding.

Throughout this period of commensal interaction, tamed and domestic cats became feral and/or intermixed with wild. F. s. lybica or other wild subspecies as is common today
” (Ottoni 2017).

Ottoni et al have published a pretty clear picture on the early Genetics and the worldwide spread of the cat:” Both the Near Eastern and Egyptian populations of Felis silvestris lybica contributed to the gene pool of the domestic cat at different historical times.

While the cat’s worldwide conquest began during the Neolithic period in the Near East, its dispersal gained momentum during the Classical period, when the Egyptian cat successfully spread throughout the Old World.

The expansion patterns and ranges suggest dispersal along human maritime and terrestrial routes of trade and connectivity
” (Ottoni et al. 2017).

Compared with complicated domestication of cats, the domestication of the dogs, another companion of humans, occurred much earlier, due to their specific social structures and because dogs were extremely helpful within a hunting Society.

Paleogenetic data suggests that European wolves became dogs somewhere around 19 to 32 k.a. BP.

At least some Late Pleistocene humans regarded dogs not only as a companion for the hunt, but may have developed emotional and caring bonds for them, as evidenced by famous late Paleolithic dog from Bonn-Oberkassel (Janssens et al. 2018).

10 k.a. ago, permanent human settlements, the beginnings of agriculture and increasing storage of grains created stimuli and opportunities for cats to hunt house mice.

It is suggested that F. s. lybica is hardly afraid of humans, compared to other wild cats, and that people were hardly afraid by these small animals, which presented themselves as "optimal" new members of the household. Self-domestication may have played an important role in this process.

It is unclear if osteometric parameter allow a separation between wild and domesticated cats, therefore Archaeological context becomes more important. Indeed, Archaeologists have focused on interactions between man and cats that go beyond utilitarianism and indicate a special relationship.

Figure 2
On the Cypriot pre-pottery sites of Shillourokambos and Khirokitia (Figure 2), animal burials as well as faunal remains deposited in human burials have been discovered.

At Shillourokambos the remains of an 8-month-old cat buried with its presumed human owner was excavated evidencing emotional relationship between people and cats around 9300 years ago.

Linseele et al. described a Predynastic cat burial from Hierakonpolis, dating to ca 3,7 k.a. BC. The left humerus and right femur of the cat show healed fractures indicating that the animal mau have had been held in captivity for at least 4-6 weeks prior to its burial. This features may indicate an early taming event.

While these findings may be ambiguous, paintings from the Egyptian New Kingdom, which began nearly 3,600 years ago provide the oldest known unmistakable depictions of full domestication. These common paintings show that that cats had become full members of Egyptian households by this time.

2019-03-22 13:12:40   •   ID: 2086

A classic Handaxe from Meung Sur Loire:

Figure 1
Figure 2
This is a classic elongated cordiform handaxe from Meung-sur-Loire. The Château de Meung-sur-Loire is a former castle and episcopal palace in the commune of Meung-sur-Loire in the Loiret département of France.

The extraordinary light weighted Biface is extremely dehydrated, maybe by heat treatment, not necessarily intentionally induced by Hominins.

The piece is made by classic faconnage technique and refined use of a soft hammer. It has many affinities to the advanced Acheulian of the Nièvre area see: 1087 and the Late Acheulian around Châteauneuf-sur-Loire see: 1174

Overall the handaxe could be ca 300 k.a. old.

Even earlier Core and Flake (Mode I) Industries around 1,1 Ma were found in adjacent areas further south to the Middle Loire for example at Pont-de-Lavaud (France, Vallée de la Creuse), Lunery (France, Cher valley)- but are such early ensembles also attested in the Middle Loire Valley?

It has to be remembered that such in-situ Industries are rare and that several lines of evidence (taphonomy, Refittings, ESR and TL dates, isotope methods, geomagnetism) should give a coherent picture of a possible Palaeolithic site.

Saint-Hilaire-la-Gravelle «le Pont-de-la-Hulauderie », introduced in the discussion during the 1980ies, could be such an ensemble.

Unfortunately the ensemble is small and insufficiently dated -only by its incorporation into the 55m terrace. Maybe renewed work at the site with modern techniques could answer the question of its artifactual character...

2019-03-19 09:17:15   •   ID: 2085

Filling the Gaps in the Early and Middle Stoneage of East Africa

Figure 1
These are two handaxes (the larger one, made from degraded sandstone is 12,3 cm long), a gift from one of my postgraduates from Eritrea.

The artifacts were found on the surface near the upper course of the Barka river, which flows from the Eritrean Highlands to the plains of Sudan.

Eritrea is located on the coast on the Red Sea. It is north of the Bab-el-Mandeb and the Horn of Africa. Eritrea has borders with the countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Djibouti.

Until recently the Paleolithic (ESA and MSA) of Eritrea and adjacent regions of the Sudan were only poorly known.

The story started with the description of the prehistoric cultural sequence of the Khartoum Province by A. J. Arkell (1949) in Khor Abu Anga in Omdurman.

In 1964-45 R.L. Carson started renewed excavations at Khor Abu Anga and Magendohli- published as late as 2015 after his retirement.

Due to erosion and mining activities, many artifacts were found on the surface of the site. The excavations, showed that no real "living floors" have survived, and unfortunately the sequence could not been dated by OSL / ESR at the time of their excavation-anyhow both excavations (Arkell and Carson) revealed a consistent picture:

Figure 2
The stratigraphic sequence begins with a late, carefully retouched Acheulian followed by a Sangoan and Lupemban.

While the local Sangoan differs in some aspects from other African sites, the Lupemban is clearly attested by a multitude of bifacial foliates, bifacial points and some stemmed artifacts, indicating the presence of hafting.

Interestingly stemmed MSA lithics were the primary finding at an ancient workshop site at Magendohli. Stemmed points and scrapers found within assemblages of predominantly Levallois technology fit perfectly into an "Aterian" context.

In Sudanese Nubia, Acheulian artifacts have been found concentrated on inselbergs which provided good raw material for the manufacture of tools in the form of ferruginous limestone (Arkin 8, Sai Island, Khor Abu Anga and Sites at Wadi Halfa).

Some typological studies on the Wadi Halfa material ( by the Guichards in the 1960ies ) suggest that there is an early, middle and late Acheulian represented at some of these sites, but assumptions based solely on typology are as ambiguous as elsewhere.

Figure 3
At the best an early phase without Levallois technique can be differentiated from a later one with Levallois technique. At the Wadi Halfa sites some unusual handaxe-types were present like “Hyper-Micoquoid-like“ and “Shark tooth” forms, which are partially explicable by the raw material at these sites.

The surface scatters of Acheulian artifacts at Sai Island were first described by A. J. Arkell in 1949. At site 8-B-11 a stratified Acheulian has recently described .

Here the lowest stratified layer is a late Acheulian which features large lanceolate handaxes, which are very fresh, and have a maximum age of 223 k.a.+/-19k.a. BP (OSL dating).

At Site 8-B-11, Acheulian and MSA (Sangoan with core axes) assemblages were actually contemporary, the differences being more behavioral than chronological.

About the rich Nubian MSA see here: 1135 and 1363

The El-Ga’ab depression is one of the largest Paleo-lake in the western desert and was subject of multiple surveys during the last years. Lanceolate Handaxes and Bifacial / Lanceolate Foliates together with several stemmed points were found without stratigraphic context and hopefully stratified sites may be detected to better classify these interesting ensembles.

Figure 4
It was the work of Amanuel Beyin who widened the horizons to the ESA and MSA of Eritrea near the read sea cost during the last years.

A very interesting MSA including, Nubian cores, Levallois cores, uni- and bifacial points and perforators was detected at Asfet located on the southwestern edge of the Gulf of Zula (ca 800 m from the present coastline). Putatively dated to MIS5, this ensemble fits into human movements over the Bab-el-Mandeb.

Further North, the western periphery of the Red Sea (WPRS) was recently surveyed by a multidisciplinary team. This survey detected multiple handaxe localities, pointing that hominins exploited diverse landscapes and habitats. Anyhow, the material was not datable.

At site HY01 site for example a homogeneous set of handaxes, and (trihedral )picks made from diverse raw materials (rhyolite, trachyte, massive igneous rock, banded gneiss) was detected.

A considerable time depth may well be possible. Beyin et al. compared their new surface findings with the very similar Acheulian at Buia, located in the Danakil Depression, ca. 35 km from the Red Sea coast. One important finding there were human remains attributed to Homo erectus, dated to ca. 1,0 Ma.

2019-03-15 12:01:37   •   ID: 2084

A Flèche de Montclus from the Languedoc

Figure 1
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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Figure 2

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

Figure 1
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

Figure 1
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

Figure 1
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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Figure 2
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