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2014-05-05 09:33:40   •   ID: 1150

How to describe Lamelles from the Early Upper Paleolithic in S/W-Asia?

Figure 1
These are Bladelets (max 4,5 cm long)  from the early Ahmarian at Kebara. Some are unretouched, partialy directly retouched or partialy inversly retouched- some are broken. They show the diversity of the so called El-Wad points.

Neuville and Garrod early noticed the similarity between the early Upper Paleolithic retouched lamelles in the Levant and points of the Font Yves type. Garrod called these armatures:  El Wad points . Compared to the Font Yves points, which have a fusiform appearance and direct, bilateral semi abrupt retouches on both ends, the El Wad category is more diversified.

El Wad points may be described as flat blades or bladelets, pointed by fine, semi abrupt or abrupt retouch on the dorsal surface at only the distal end. A fusiform appearance may be present or not. The retouch may extend continuously or discontinuously along only one or along both margins of the blade/bladelet.

The blanks have an almost perfect shape for an armature and often needed only minimal modifications or were used without any retouch (“the lazy Ahmarians”). The points may be straight or even curved or twisted (note that the latter attribute in the European terminology is reserved for the Dufour category). The Abu Halka variant at Ksar Akil has been defined by Azoury as having an inverse retouch on the proximal end.

While El Wad Points are common during the Ahmarian between 43-20 k.a. cal BP, they are rare, but not absent during the short episode of the Levantine Aurignacian at Kebara and Ksar Akil at ca 36-32 k.a. BP. Early dates for the Ahmarian around  45-40 k.a. cal BP have been published from Kebara layer IIIa, IIIb, and IVb and IV/V, Qafzeh level 9 and Boker A and Stratum 17 at Ksar Akil.

Other dates are younger: Üçağızlı, layer B is dated between 28 and 33 k.a. BP and at Qseimeh I, dates on ostrich samples give an age of circa 34 k.a. BP. At the sites of Lagama IIID, VII and VIII, Qadesh Barnea 601B and 501, Abu Noshra I and Abu Noshra II, most of the dates range between 36 and 30 k.a. BP.

The main typological categories of the Baradostian toolkit in the Zagros show, together with a clear abundance of bladelet tools, primarily Arjeneh points. These are defined as bladelets with a nearly rectilinear section, with short direct retouch limited to the edges to produce a fusiform contour, very similar to the original Font-Yves points.

At Yafteh cave, bladelets were obtained in different ways: from bladelet cores, from flake edges and from the proximal ends of carinated burins. Classic Dufour bladelets are also present. The toolkit also includes Aurignacian blades, sometimes pointed, numerous burins of different types, endscrapers on blades and splintered pieces. In addition to bladelet tools, tools unique to the Aurignacian – carinated endscrapers and burins - are also present.

The calibrated C-14 dates, using Bayesian statistics, show a single chronological signal, between 37 and 39 cal BP near the Heinrich 4 event. In addition radiometric ages from Yafteh overlap some of the Early Ahmarian dates at Kebara and Ksar Akil.

Based on these data Otte recently proposed: “Based on the available archeological and chronological dataset, the following hypothesis is proposed. It is generally accepted that Ahmarian and Levantine Aurignacian are distinct technocomplexes. From a phylogenetic point of view, Yafteh could then be seen as a hypothetical taxonomic unit between technological traditions derived from the Early Ahmarian and the Levantine Aurignacian”.

During the Protoaurignacian of S-Europe, Bladelets of similar shape appear at c 40 k.a. calBP. Use the link for more information: 1142 and 1125 .

It is fascinating to see the rapid development of bladelet technologies over such a vast area almost at the same time. The important questions: monocentric or polycentric origin-and if monocentric origin: where did it happen?, and: why did it happen?-have to be resolved in the future.

Surf the Blog: here 1125 , here: 1142 and here 1646