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2014-05-24 17:04:38   •   ID: 1159

The pitfalls of using scalar retouches as a cultural marker

Figure 1
These implements are part of a larger series, found in the Charente. They display the characteristics of a Quina-Mousterian. Of special interest is a bifacial tool with a shape that resembles a “Keilmesser” and several convergent scrapers very similar to typical findings of the Quina-site.

The Levallois-system  creates thin blanks of predetermined shape (e.g. points and blades), ready for immediate use without or with only light retouches.

The Quina system is characterized by a low degree of blank predetermination. The working edge of a thick flake or blade has to be heavily transformed before it is used. This transformation is usually performed by the “Retouche écailleuse scalariforme” which is the hallmark of the Quina-system. If the blank is short and wide, it will be usually transformed into a transversal scraper. In elongated flakes, one or two working edges are usually retouched following the long axis of the blank. Quina scrapers (transverse, convergent, déjetée) are highly curated and sophisticated tools, often underwent various transformations and were used for very different tasks.

In La Quina, scrapers were used for wood- and plant-working. At other sites trace wear analysis indicated their use in meat procurement.

The Quina concept is not limited in space or time. At La Micoque C3, assemblages with the Quina concept may have an age of 280 k.a BP.  At High Lodge (Mildenhall; UK) wonderful scrapers with a scalar retouch were present during OIS12.

The Quina-technique in a strict sense is dominant during the middle Paleolithic of the Charente during OIS4 and 3 but also appears in the Middle European Micoquian (for examples at the Sesselfelsgrotte in Bavaria, at the Kulna cave in Moravia) during OIS-3. In South West Asia a similar technique is present at  Yabroud (Syria) and Tabun E at 200 k.a BP and at Qesem Cave (Istrael)  and the El Kowm Basin at 400-200 k.a BP.