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2017-10-03 17:28:53   •   ID: 1665

Hafting during the late European Middle Paleolithic

Figure 1
This is an unusual mono-facial scraper (7x5 cm) from Saint-Brice-sous-Rânes (Orne department; France. Figure 1 and 2: ventral side; Figure 3: dorsal side).What makes this scraper special is the carefully executed spine on the right side and traces of hafting ) Macrotraceology reveals that the ventral right side is partially polished and smoothed to a certain degree with some rough remnants of the original cortex, while  the left side is still sharp with evidence of several reshaping retouches (better seen on Figure 2).

Figure 2
In addition, the patination of the two functional units is different. Therefore we can conclude that the polished part was the prehensile / hafted edge which was modified by a spine, working like a pin for better stability in an organic handle. Tl-data for the non-Levallois series at Saint-Brice-sous-Rânes scatter around 40 k.a. BP (MIS3). Although the site is a large workshop with many rough outs and unfinished tools, the presence of highly curated tools, like the one introduced in this post, suggest also other interpretations for parts of the site.

Figure 3
In the European Middle Paleolithic, traces of hafting have been repeatedly observed on convergent tools (Biache-Saint-Vaast, OIS 7; La Cotte-Saint-Brelade-layer 5, OIS 7; Staroselje, OIS 4; 9, Buran-Kaya III-Level B1,OIS3, Königsaue OIS 5d or 3). In Königsaue (Germany) a birch-bark pitch displays imprints of a bifacial tool and a wooden haft. Inden-Altdorf near Jülich in the Rhineland (Germany) was dated to OIS 5e.

The artefact assemblage from Inden Altdorf is said to be Micoquian, but a final publication is missing.  It is one of the rare Paleolithic sites where birch pitch residues were found on  tools and offers   evidence for the production of synthetic pitch for the use of composite tool technology from the Neanderthal world.

Two flakes with birch tar residues from Campitello, Central Italy, dated before OIS 6 are the earliest indication for this technology so far. During MIS 3 hafting was clearly a systematic practice at the Sesselfelsgrotte G (Bavaria; Germany). G Rots (2009) described that hafting was preferable used for projectiles and percussion tools. Scraping tools were also preferentially used in a haft, possibly as a way to increase the exerted pressure, while for other artifacts no particular prehensile mode is vital for their use, and traces of hafting are usually missing.