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2016-07-14 03:07:55   •   ID: 1475

A laurel leaf point from the Dordogne

Figure 1
Figure 2
is a large laurel leaves point (21 cm) from the Dordogne. Such artifacts are especially known from Laugerie haute, Pech-de-la-Boissiere, Fourneau-du-Diable and Jean Blancs. In his seminal thesis about the Solutrean Philip Smith’s defined the typology of Solutrean laurel leaves points  a ‘type J’ (1966: 53) on the basis of fifteen exceptional pieces, ranging, between 25 and 33 cm found together in a “cache” at Volgu (Saone-et-Loire, France) in 1874.

The geographical distribution of this rare type is centered S/W France and is limited to the border of the Massif Central. Large large-sized flint nodules of superior quality are found in this area and are one prerequisite of producing this artifact. However, additional criteria besides raw material availability must be relevant to this geographic distribution, since sources of large-sized flint nodules in the Iberian Peninsula known by the Solutrean knappers were never exploited to produce these tools.

Technological analysis and experimental work showed that most of these large laurel leaves points are manufactured by  a  symmetrical (bifacial) reduction scheme, with the resulting piece being produced from the central portion of the nodule, At the Maıtreaux site, Thierry Aubry and coworkers identified the basic chaine operatoire of Solutrean laurel leaves points ‘type J’ “

(1) the testing and eventual summary preforming of the nodule, mostly accomplished by mineral hammer percussion;

(2) most of the reduction sequence, predominantly carried out by organic percussion, producing more or less simultaneously the thinning and the shaping of the piece, until obtaining a balanced and thin enough preform for finishing; and

(3) the finishing stage, which (according to the observations made of other site assemblages) can include some pressure flaking technique towards the end of the shaping sequence” (Aubry et al. 2008). Heat treatment was somtimes applied but not a precondition for the production of fine large Leafpoints as shown at Examples from Volgu recently (Schmidt et al. 2018).

The laurel leave point displayed here was near the finishing stage of the reduction sequence. The base is already completely and finely retouched. We observe some rough lateral breaks which probably provoked the knapper to discard the artifact.