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2016-06-12 08:02:52   •   ID: 1286

Flaked Flakes--Kombewa--Truncated faceted pieces--Kostenki- and others

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This is a flaked flake / truncated facetted piece from the French Mousterian (Fig. 1: dorsal surface, Fig 2 and 3: ventral surface after the detachment of a flake). Here a Levallois flake was used as a secondary core by removing a further flake.

The product of such a technique is a smaller flake with two ventral faces, called „Janus flake" after the Roman god, who is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.  

The term ‘flaked flake’ was first used to describe a particular technology that had been noted at High Lodge (MIS 13). As the term suggests they are quite simply a flake that has had one or further flakes removed.

Such techniques have been recognized from different periods and different geographic areas and include sites from the Early-Middle Stone Age transition in East Africa (300-500 k.a.) and the later MSA in S/E-Africa, from the MSA of the Maghreb and the Middle Paleolithic of the Near East (Nahr Ibrahim).

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They are also known from the middle Paleolithic WCM industry (Kabazi), the pre-MIS5 Middle Palaeolithic levels at La Cotte de St Brelade (MIS6/7) as well as from numerous sites In S/W-France.  

Allthough "Flaked flake"- techniques were initially ascribed to the Levallois conceptual sphere, several other debitage systems, notably Quina debitage, are clearly distinguishable.

Reduction strategies carried out in the context of secondary  production of predetermined flakes on flake-blanks could highlight two debitage modes which vary depending on which surface is exploited:

Kombewa-type mode (on the ventral surface) and Nahr Ibrahim Technique (also called: Kostienki-Technique / Technique of truncated faceted pieces) and (on the dorsal surface).

In the Levant, Levallois-Mousterian strata showing the Nahr Ibrahim Technique are known from Nahr Ibrahim ,Ras el Kelb, Keeue Cave, Bezez, (Lebanon), Yabroud Shelter I, Naame ,Douara, Jerf Ajla,, Hummal (Syria), Kebara and some open sites in the Negev desert (Israel).

This kind of flake technique is now recognized as one of the most common elements of the Levantine Mousterian. In addition the Kombewa technique has also been found in some ensembles (Fig.4: Kombewa core made from a Levallois flake found at the Golan hights).

Recently a levantine ("Tabun B?") Mousterian has been described from  Merdivenli Cave in the Hatay Region, southern Anatolia (Turkey) characterized by the use of the Kombewa technique.

In S/W-France, Francois Bordes noticed that Kombewa flakes are common in layer J3, the Asinipodian, at the site of Pech de l´Aze IV. Dibble and McPherron, who re‐excavated Pech IV, analyzed the presence of Kombewa and came to the conclusion that these artifacts co‐occur with small cores and T‐F pieces throughout the sequence. This finding led them to conclude that Kombewa at Pech IV was intended for the production of small flakes and that this production forms an important and overlooked part of MP variability.

Several other Mousterian sites in Europe have now identified for their flaked flake technique such as Champ Bossuet, stratum 14 at Combe Grenal (incorporated into the Discoid technical sphere), Les Tares (Quina system) and for the Grotte de Cotencher.

Flaked flakes are not absent in the German Middle Paleolithic as recently shown at the Schulerloch in the Altmühl valley where discoidal and Levallois concepts were common. Truncated-faceted pieces have also been identified as belonging to the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transitional and Early Upper Paleolithic industries of Northern Asia. The largest collection of such pieces in this region is associated with the EUP of the Obi-Rakhmat Grotto, Uzbekistan.  

A comparison of these pieces with similar artifacts from nearby areas reveals their importance as a possible chronological marker of the terminal Middle Paleolithic and early Upper Paleolithic industries in Northern Asia. Kostenki knives are a particular case of Truncated‐Facetted. This type was defined in Europe, specifically for the Gravettian site of Kostenki in Russia.

They consist of blades with one or two inverse truncation(s) on the proximal and/or distal end. Using the truncation as the striking platform, secondary bladelets are removed from the exterior of the flake. If such artifacts are really the fossil directeurs of a Willendorf-Kostenkien is hotly debated.