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2016-07-14 03:07:55   •   ID: 1475

A Large Laurel Leaf point From the Dordogne

Figure 1

This is a large laurel leave 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.

This example comes from my personal Family collection and was given from D. Peyrony to O. Meghin a eminent Prehistorian at the Vienna University, which was not a common attitude shortly after WW I and the persistent hate between Ex-Austria and France. It is most probably from Fourneau-du-Diable- see: 1582 , 1348 and 1626

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.

Figure 2
Figure 3
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 obviously near the finishing stage of the reduction sequence. The base is already completely and finely retouched.

Anyhow we observe some rough lateral breaks which probably provoked the knapper to leave the artifact unfinished. After these breaks in the material, he or she would have had to change the design of the entire artifact, i.e. slim it down - and that was probably not worth the effort.

Provenance: Collection Josef Meller ex. Meghin (AUT)