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2016-06-10 16:45:36   •   ID: 1285

Abensberg-Arnhofen Flint (Plattensilex)

Figure 1
The German name Plattensilex is a commonly accepted term for the Upper Jurassic tabular chert from the Fränkische Alb Hilly land in the Regensburg/Kelheim region, Bavaria. The name refers to the tabular appearance of rocky chunks. For this reason, Plattensilex is especially suitable for production of flat tools, often with application of flat or semi-flat retouching.

These are  three middle Neolithic blades, bladelets and a core made from Tabular Tithonian chert of the Abensberg-Arnhofen type. When using the term, it should be restricted to the typical tabular banded chert ("Plattenhornstein"), as this is the only material from this source that can be distinguished macroscopically with any certainty from other Cherts from the Franconian Alb.

The blades are part of a huge collection of Middle Neolithic tools, which were found at Oberfecking, 8 km apart from the flint mines. Cores and cortical flakes indicate that knapping activities took place directely on the site. Oberfecking was a production center most famous for the abundance of standardized borers, which played an prominent role in the tool kit of the regional Middle Neolithic.

The use of tabular chert is very characteristic for the Bavarian Middle Paleolithic, especially for inventories with bifaces (“Micoquian”). The main source during the Middle Paleolithic came from Baiersdorf, while Abensberg-Arnhofen chert was only rarely used (for example at the Sesselfelsgrotte).  

The Jurassic chert  from Baiersdorf occurs in thin slabs, which means that mainly thin products with flat or semi-flat retouching were generally produced, often with both dorsal and ventral cortex remaining, giving the Bavarian Mousterian / Micoquian  its character. Locally the chert of the Abensberg-Arnhofen type was again used during the Gravettian at Salching, (Lkr. Straubing-Bogen). During this time the access to more rich sources of the raw material, which have to be mined in the underground, was poor.

It was not before the Neolithic, that this kind of chert became extensive mined by the local population, those ancestors had migrated to Central Europe via Greece and Anatolia from southwestern Asia . Situated in an estuarine environment on the hilly landscape of the upper Danube region, the Neolithic flint mine of Arnhofen is a monument with international significance.

The area around Abensberg-Arnhofen comprises one of the largest Neolithic flint mines in Europe. Numerous tools made from the premium fine-grained, banded grey tabular flint are recorded from many prehistoric sites since the Early Neolithic. Since several years we know also antler tools from this mining area. Regular flint mining in Arnhofen appears to begin with Linearbandkeramik communities and ends in the younger Neolithic period. Therefore mining activities took place for ca 1000 yrs (5,5-4,5 k.a BC).

While the Middle Neolithic period witnessed the greatest intensity of mining, raw material from Arnhofen was distributed over a broad area of more than 500 km, into different cultural spheres of Central Neolithic Europe: towards the Danube river and the Rhine-Main area to the Middle Elbe-Saale region in the north, to Bohemia in the east and further down the Danube river to distant Neolithic settlements in Lower Austria.

At the foothills of the Franconian Alb, more than one thousand mining shafts testify the remarkable prominence of the typical Arnhofen Plattenhornstein. Alexander Binsteiner has recently traced the chert of the Abensberg-type along the Danube valley  Neolithic, with a remarkable concentration along the Kamp-valley, a small tributary of the Danube and the Horn county in the “Waldviertel”. Around Vienna raw material from the east and South was used but no Arnhofen materials.

Read the monumental work: Roth, Georg (2008) GEBEN UND NEHMEN. Eine wirtschaftshistorische Studie zum neolithischen Hornsteinbergbau von Abensberg-Arnhofen, Kr. Kelheim (Niederbayern)[in IV Bänden]. Dissertation, Universität zu Köln.

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