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2017-08-08 04:28:26   •   ID: 1631

A classic Keilmesser / Prądnik from Neuburg /Donau

Figure 1
This is a classic initial Ciemna or Pradnik type backed bifacial knife, (Keilmesser). The term „Initial“ in this context means: before the application of Rejuvenation traits, for example by deceasing the volume of the artifact or by application of tranchet blows.

It was found as a stray find, decennia ago, at Neuburg at the Donau (Bavaria) in the heartland of the Central European Micoquian technocomplex.

It was made from Kreidequarzit, known as raw material from other Middle Paleolithic site nearby (Speckberg, Oberneder Grotto).

Figure 2
Keilmesser are typical tools of the Central European Micoquian.

The example of the post has strong affinities to other Ciemna backed bifacial knifes, named after a site and Karstic region in Southern Poland. Ciemna was recently re-dated to MIS3 by state-of-art excavations in the well-stratified Main Chamber (sector CK).

They are characterized by one straight cutting edge opposite a thicker blunted edge, a rectangular or convex tip, -with or -without the signs of re-sharpening by removal of lateral tranchets. This reshaping technique is known as Prądnik technique.

At Ciemna this technique was used for renuvation not only of Keilmesser, but for the resharping of other tools, also (for example scrapers and natural backed knives). This phenomenon is also known from several other Central European sites.

The Prądnik technique of resharpening is known from Central and Western Europe, for example from Okiennik and Abri Wylotne in Poland, Stratum IIIB at Buhlen (Hessen), at the Grottos de la Verpillière I and II (Bourgogne),  Mont de Beuvry (Pas-de-Calais)....

Keilmesser (Prądniks) in the Polish literature) have been further divided by several authors into a plethora of morphological sub-types, mainly based on the shape of the tip and extent of the prehensile back (Klausennische, Bockstein, Pradnik/Ciemna, Königsaue, Lichtenberg, Buhlen, Tata, Wolgograd, Ak-Kaya…)

Studies show that Keilmesser played a specific role throughout the Middle Paleolithic in Central /East Europe. They formed an important part of the Neanderthal toolkit, representing tools that were used for a variety of activities (cutting, sawing, draping..).

They were characterised by their Longevity and repeatedly resharpened and recycled, used and curated for a long time, and had causal relationship with regionalization of cultural and social variability among Neanderthals.

Metrical analyses suggest that the variability of their forms reflects a combination of several main determinants, such as the nature and morphology of the raw material, the stage of the tool reduction during its use and modification and the presence / absence of hafting devices.

The KMG-groups, recorded over a vast area from France to the lower Volga basin, are much more widespread than the Middle Palaeolithic MTA technocomplex, or the Bifacial Mousterian from the Bretagne and Normandy of Western Europe. In Western Europe, we notice an overlap between KMG / MTA as best evidenced in Belgium or France.

This observation points to a strong influence of several distinct elaborated socio-cultural behaviours among late Neanderthals before the advent of AMHs in Europe.

Provenance: Maurer Collection GE