2016-11-18 05:12:29 • ID: 1531
Micoquian Bifaces in Africa: Convergence in Action
This is a Micoquian Handaxe from the El Beyyed- site in Algeria, where it was collected during 1963.
El Beyyed is a famous Paleolithic Mega Acheulian Area in the the Adrar Province in southwestern Algeria. Today, the capital of the province is Adrar, and another well known town for prehistorically interested people is Reggane.
The province is located in the Sahara Desert and is the second largest province in Algeria by area. It borders Mauritania to the southwest for a short distance and six other provinces: Tindouf and Béni Abbès to the west, Timimoun to the north, In Salah to the east, Tamanrasset to the southeast, and Bordj Badji Mokhtar to the south.
The site of El Beyyed, discovered by T. Monod in 1934, revealed a concentration of prehistoric sites, predominantly of Acheulean age.
Large Collections of LCTs (Handaxes and Cleaver) were especially amassed during the last years of the French Colonial Administration
Further sites were found in situ with predominantly debitage and only a handful of Handaxes and Cleavers- demonstrating the biased character of the old collections now stored in forgotten archives in Paris.
Unfortunately even these assemblages could not be absolutely dated. They are assumed of being of Middle Pleistocene age.
Figure 1 shows a typical Micoquian Handaxe from El Beyyed and Figure 2 a more common lanceolate type from the same locality.
Micoquien Handaxes can be symmetric or slightly asymmetric. They have a massive, often only coarsely or unworked base, slightly of pronounced concave outlines and an elaborated tip.
At La Micoque the handaxes often follow a trifacial concept. The analysis of techno-functional units (TFU) in the identification of the conceptual zones defining the volumetric organization of the piece from the beginning of its fabrication at La Micoque showed that: two concepts are present in La Micoque.
The first one leads to the production of handaxes sensu strictu with a roughly symmetrical organization along the length axis. Two active TFU with similar characteristics form the point and the top of the piece. They can cover the total length of the long sides up to the basis. The basis carries usually, but not obligatory, a passive TFU. Additive TFU can be placed between the top and the basis. They are usually organized symmetrically and can be active or passive. A piece with “handaxe concept” can therefore be hold and used on several ways and all TFU can be at least potentially active.
The second concept produces bifacial knives, characterized by the asymmetrical organization of their TFUs along the length axis. The main active TFU is localized on one of the long edges, opposed to a back that is always passive” (Rosendahl 2004, Rosendahl 2006).
Micoquian Handaxes, according to Rosendahl`s definition, appeared and disappeared from the Archaeological record at several times and in several regions and are certainly not useful as a chronological Marker.
In Africa they are usually dated around the Middle Pleistocene.
They are found in the context of the Nubian Acheulian as described by the Guichards and Roumano Schild during the 1970/80ies, at Tabun (Israel), first described by D.E.A. Garrod, where they may be 400-500 k.a. years old, at Mound spring KO10 at Kharga Oasis (Egypt), displayed on Plate 16 in Katon-Thomson`s Monography and over large areas in the Sahara.
They are common at La Micoque See- 1292 in the Perigord / S/W- France (300 k.a.?), during late OIS5 in N-France in the Seine Valley around 100 k.a. and during the Central and East European Micoquian (KMG) of the last Glacial in Germany and Poland (Bockstein, Salzgitter, Zwolen), dated to MIS3, probably with the exception of the Bockstein-Schmiede (MIS5?) and the East European Plain.
The "Micoquian" Handaxes at Bocksteinschmiede and La Micoque seem to be the product of a convergent technical evolution and neither interrelated by tradition nor by chronology.
Richter (Köln) recently published a sophisticated analysis about the volumetric concepts of Acheulian and Micoquian handaxes, arguing for a conscious perception and a characteristic solution of a specific geometrical problem by their makers.
Figure 3 shows some "Micoquian" Handaxes; Left: Tabun (Garrod and Bate 1937-Figures1,3,4,5) ; Right: Nubia (Guichard and Guichard 1965-Figure D).
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-11-15_22micoquianhandaxe1aggsbach.jpg
- Image: 2021-11-15_20180806_micoqueneu.jpg
- Image: 2021-11-15_el_be.jpg
- Extern Link: kups.ub.uni-koeln.de…
- Extern Link: academia.edu…Bewusste_geometrische_Gestaltung_bei_Homo_heidelbergensis
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…download
- Extern Link: journals.openedition.org…209#tocto2n5