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2015-12-24 09:39:05   •   ID: 1258

Hammerstones and Percuteurs

Figure 1
This artifact (Diameter 66 x 56 mm, Height 60 mm, Mass 368 g)  was found during quarry operations during the 1940ies at Tournedos sur Seine (Eure; Haut Normandy) , at  "La Couture" , near the port. It is a small Hammerstone made from a roughly spherical flint made from a flint nodule and worked from multiple directions.

Substantial areas of the nodule show the original cortex.  Other areas  show the results of battering.  These objects are difficult to date but an early Neolithic date could be suggested for this artifact.

Experimental archaeology concludes that Hammerstones made of flint or similar materials are suited for finishing  various rock implements by picking, such as horse shoe axes and for the roughening of millstones.   Moreover they played a role in tenderizing organic materials.

Percuteurs, on the other hand, are made from  relatively soft rocks (sandstones, limestones, or quartzites) that are particularly and can absorb some of the impact energy without breaking , similar to devices from bone, antler or other organic materials ("Percuteur tendres").

Such tools were used for the processing of flint, by striking off lithic flakes from a core during the process of lithic reduction Percuteurs made of rocks  have their first appearance during the ESA / MSA in Africa and are among the oldest stone tools so far.

Beginning with the first stone industries in East Africa ( at 2,75 Mio ago)  they were used to detach flakes from cores by the hard hammer technique. In Europe, Percuteurs are also known since the Early Paleolithic (for example from the Acheulian at Swanscombe), from the Mousterian (for example the famous “Bolas” at La Quina)  and of course during the Upper Paleolithic (good examples are known from Pataud) and during later times.

Figure 2
Figure 2: This Percuteur comes  from la grotte d'Aurignac. Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014;  Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux.

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