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2016-06-16 03:12:30   •   ID: 1360

Northern Hessen: The Acheulian

Figure 1
This is a large quartzite handaxe, found in 1949 near Seigertshausen in North Hessen. The Acheulean of this area is selectively known from surface collections and the material can only be provisionally classified according to typology and patination.

Important sites are: Rainrod (Schwalmtal; Vogelsbergkreis): Older Paleolithic with large and heavy handaxes, choppers, polyhedrons and large flakes from discoid cores. Hausen (Oberaula; Schwalm-Eder Kreis): An older series comparable to Rainrod and a younger series with finely made elongated cordiform handaxes. Ziegenhain-Reutersruh (Schwalmstadt; Schwalm-Eder Kreis): An older series comparable to the findings of Rainrod and a younger one, comparable to the younger series from Hausen.

The Münzenberg area (Wetteraukreis): Numerous quartzite chopper and chopping tools, partially incorporated into OIS9-7 geologic deposits. Many single finds of handaxes comparable to the Rainrod and Hausen findings.

There are several scientific traditions, which try to explain the enormeous persistence of handaxes over large areas and a time of at least 1, 4 Mio years. Some European researchers and Archaeologist that work in the Levant, think that the Acheulean culture was an extremely stable system of cultural transmission (Fiedler 2002).

Anyhow,the majority of scholars, coming from a skeptical Anglo-American scientific tradition claim, that handaxes must have repeatedly invented. In this view a handaxe was simply “the best tool that humans were capable of making that did the job adequately” (Hawks 1996).

Another question is weather the production of handaxes was a process of conscious intention or not. The “internationalists” would agree with a statement of J D Clark, made some 30 ears ago:”

The symmetry and refinement of some of the earlier Acheulean handaxes, which surely go beyond the utilitarian need, may reflect the first appearance of an aesthetic appreciation of form”.

The “functionalists” on the other hand would argue that that the perceived symmetry in stone tools is simply the consequence of the manufacture technique, rather than the product of human intention. It is almost impossible to verify or falsify such statements. How would you explain

  • The "Quasi-Movius line" at the Rhine with a Middle Pleistocene Acheulean s.s. only in the West, but the more and less Acheulean cluster in N-Hessen. )?

  • The presence of backed handaxes and prodniks in Poland after OIS7 and until OIS3. )?

  • The long handaxe sequence of El Kowm (

Suggested Readings:

Fritz Bertram Jünemann: Paläolithische Artefakte auf Äckern mit Trümmerstreuung von Braunkohlenquarzit im Oberweserbergland südlich des Sollings, 134 - 146, in: Frühe Menschheit und Umwelt, Teil I. Fundamenta, Reihe A, Band 2, Köln  und Wien 1970 

G. Bosinski: mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa, 1967

A. Luttropp and G. Bosinski: Reuthersruh; 1971

G. Bosinski und R Wetzel: Die Bocksteinschmiede im Lonetal; 1969

G.Freund: Die Blattspitzen des Paläolithikums in Europa ; 1952

G. Freund. Das Paläolithikum der Oberneder-Höhle - Ldkr. Kelheim-Donau; 1987

K. Günther: Die altsteinzeitlichen Funde der Balver Höhle; 1964

K. Günther: Alt- und mittelsteinzeitliche Fundplätze in Westfalen, Teil 1 + Teil 2; 1986, 1988