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2018-11-11 14:46:42   •   ID: 1142

How to describe Lamelles during the Proto / Aurignacian in W-Europe

Figure 1
Figure 2
These are ventral and dorsal views from three slightly curved unretouched Lamelles Dufour (Dufour subtype) from Pataud (Dordogne; France) and Les Cottes (Vienne; France).

Around 40 k.a. two distinct lithic traditions are found in Europe the Aurignacian: the "Proto-Aurignacian" and the Early "classical" Aurignacian. These two traditions differ in the way of making blades and bladelets and in the morphology of the end-products.

Moreover, in contrast to the classic Aurignacian, In the Proto-Aurignacian, organic productions are poorly developed and personal ornaments are mainly made from shell.

It remains unclear if the two entities developped completely independent or, if there is a certain grade of interconnectivity between them. It is of interest that straight „ Protoaurignacian“ bladelets at Fumane and Isturitz werde somtimes made from „Classic“ Aurignacian carinated cores!

I this post I concentrate in the bladelet phenomenon, unknown in Europe before the (Proto)-Aurignacian.

Limited Microtraceological Studies showed, that all classes of lamelles during the "Protoaurignacian" / "Aurignacian 0" and Aurignacian, retouched and non-retouched, were used. They were parts of different composite tools, used for hunt but also for domestic activities for cutting meat but also for cutting soft vegetal materials.

Lamelles during the Protoaurignacian and the Aurignacian in S/W-France are highly diversified and have not only chronological,but also ecological, economical and paleo-ethnological meanings. They can be classified by the several dichotomies: Large vs small, straight or only slightly curved vs twisted, tipped vs non-tipped. Of importance are also their retouches (ventral, dorsal, alternately, marginal vs semiabrupt) and their different chaine operatoire.

Lamelles during the Protoaurignacian and the Aurignacian in S/W-France are highly diversified and have not only chronological,but also ecological, economical and paleo-ethnological meanings. They can be classified by the several dichotomies: Large vs small; straight vs. slightly curved vs. twisted; tipped vs non-tipped. Of importance are also their retouches (ventral, dorsal, alternately, marginal vs semi-abrupt.

Traditionally, the European Classification of bladelets is based on the Work of Demars and Brun-Ricalens and has described three basic categories.

  • Large Lamelles Dufour (subtype Dufour) with straight or only slightly curved profile, 30–45 mm long. Such lamelles are common during the "Protoaurignacian"


  • Small Lamelles Dufour (subtype Roc-de-Combe with a twisted profile 15-20 mm long. They have inverse or alternate fine/semiabrupt retouche. Such lamelles are common during the evolved Aurignacian


  • St. Yves  Points, with sizes comparable to Dufour/subtype Dufour or larger. They are straight or only weakly curved. Yves points have a fusiform appearance, created by invasive direct, bilateral semi abrupt retouche on both ends. Krems-Points have the same appearance but an alternate retouche.Such lamelles are common during the "Protoaurignacian"


Large Lamelles Dufour/Subtype Dufour were usually produced from pyramidal / prismatic cores, which were also used for blade production.

Figure 3
In contrast  small Lamelles Dufour/subtype Roc de Combe were produced from specialized carinated cores (Figure3).

Font Yves points were made from specialized unipolar non-carinated cores according to the old findings at the Type-site.

Many authors prefer not to use the historical charged proper names, assigning the artifacts to sites that were rather badly excavated during the 19th / beginning of the 20th century and  instead speak about a broad category of Aurignacian bladelets with  different attributes. By the way: Lamelles Dufour are also known from some Châtelperronian sites but with a different chaine operatoire of their production.

Therefore a paper from Armando Falcucci, just published, is of great interest. They focused on the variability of bladelets of the "Protoaurignacian / Aurignacian 0", at sites excavated with up-to-date methods in Italy, S/E France, the Pyrenean region, Cantabria and the Aquitaine.

Protoaurignacian bladelets from Fumane, Isturitz, and Les Cottes were analyzed. Regarding the blanks, they are most slightly curved and straight and mase from unipolar blade cores. Sub- parallel and convergent bladelets are frequent. The mean length is about 25 mm, the maximal length (at Fumane) is 55mm. Retouches are continuous, marginal and semi-aprubt.

The authors state that during the Protoaurignacian " the lamellar assemblages analyzed belong to common stone knapping traditions that aimed to produce regular, relatively straight, and dimensionally comparable bladelets, even if in some of them the retouch expresses distinct finalities".

And more important:

"Protoaurignacian retouched bladelets at Fumane, Isturitz, and Les Cottés (can be sub-grouped into two major tool categories: bladelets with convergentretouch and bladelets with lateral retouch. The first group includes all of the bladelets retouched up to the apex, with the clear intention to modify and rectify the main tool attri- bute. The second group includes the rest of the bladelets that, even if naturally convergent in their distal part, are modified only on the lateral edge(s)".

Depending of the site, there is a focus on Direct, Alternate or Inverse retouches.

This unified analytic approach will certainly trigger more comparative analyses, especially with the Central / East European and S/W-Asian bladelet tradition. You will hear about this topics during a later post.