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2016-05-28 04:21:47   •   ID: 1281

Biface from La Chapelle Aubareil; Dordogne

Figure 1
This is a typical sub-triangular Middle Paleolithic Biface  surface finding from La Chapelle Aubareil, near Lascaux (13 cm long).

The biface shows the characteristic shape and biconvex cross section of an MTA implement. As known from some key stratigraphies of the Perigord, the MTA is mainly dated to the early MIS 3.

In N-France, Industries with MTA-handaxes are known from both OIS 5 and 3, but backed knifes are rare.

New excavations at the La Ferrassie site show, that the Mousterian industry at the base of the deposits, based on a Levallois and discoid technology, typologically exhibits some bifaces and bifaces thinning flakes but lacks backed knives, which are suggested a constitutive element of the S/W-France OIS3 MTA.

OSL ages place the lower Strata of Ferrassie at the end of OIS 5 until the end of OIS4. The morphology of the few bifaces recovered so far and those from the earlier excavation by D. Peyrony falls within the so-called „Industrie à biface“ from Barbas (MIS 6) and the MTA sensu stricto (MIS 3). Bifaces were always present in the late Middle to early Upper Pleistocene in France.

During the last 30 years, sceptics about the intellectual capacities of Homo  Neanderthalensis introduced the  "imposed form" concept into discussion.

Imposed form"  means that a mental template already exists during the process of conceptualization of an artifact, before a stone tool is produced by faconnage or debitage.

In Neanderthals such templates should be absent according to the mainstream of theoretically working archeologists. Indeed, mental templates may be questioned during the production-process  for simple scrapers and denticulates.

If this is so, it only means that no sophisticated conceptualisation is needed in the ad hoc production of these items. Interestingly  this fact has been used in extenso to propose a cognitive inferiority for the Neanderthals in comparison to Homo sapiens.

It should be noted, that the bilateral symmetry, fine retouche and standardisation of numerous triangular handaxes in S/W-France, which were used as multipurpose instruments and cores of mobile hunters, directly contradict to the concept of simple minded Neanderthals.

During the last years and stimulated by novel discoveries in Africa, an increasing number of studies have demonstrated, that the behavioral differences between the early Homo sapiens in Africa and the Neanderthals in Europe and the Near East are not as large as once thought.

One example (others can be found in attached external links): In 2013, a reassessment of evidence from Bruniquel cave, near Toulouse in south-west France, revealed in one chamber, 336 meters from the cave entrance, are enigmatic ring structures – including a ring 7 meters across – built from stalagmites snapped from the cave floor.

They are roughly 175,000 years old, which means they easily predate the arrival of modern humans in Europe. They were built at a time when Neanderthals were the only hominins in the region.

They are built from around 400 individual stalagmites with a combined weight of about 2 tonnes.