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2017-11-19 12:47:31   •   ID: 1687

A thick retouched Aurignacian blade from Meyrals / Périgord Noir

Figure 1
This is a thick  (12x4,5x2,5 cm)  bilaterally  retouched Aurignacian blade with short carinated  "end-scraper" characteristics on the distal end.

It is made from typical Dordogne chert and was found near Meyrals (Figure 2)  in the Périgord Noir, just a few kilometers away from Eyzies, the Vézère and the Beune valley.

The item is very similar to pieces from the Aurignacian levels at Laussel and at some sites  in the Bergeracois. Comparable artifacts are also known from Chez les Rois (Mouthiers-sur-Boëme, Charentes; see picture below; figure 3).

On the basis of their relative stratigraphic position and of their typo-technological characteristics, three types of Aurignacian assemblages (Protoaurignacian, Early Aurignacian and Recent Aurignacian) can be distinguished in S/W-France.

Figure 2
The Early Aurignacian (I) is characterized by a high grade of significant typo-technological homogeneity. In the Aquitaine this entity is represented by the material from Corbiac-Vignoble II and by levels FG of Caminade-Est, GI-F of Le Piage, and 7 of Roc-de-Combe.

According to a traditional view, the Aurignacian I, at least in Aquitaine, corresponds to the cooling phase following the Les Cottés climatic oscillation, between 36 k.a. and 31 k.a. BP. It is thus earlier than the Arcy oscillation, but not older than ca 36 k.a. BP.

According to researches, who prefer an "early chronology", substantiated by new high precision C-14 dating and calibration, the early Aurignacian is roughly coincident with the onset of the strong cold phase Heinrich 4 at  39-40 k.a. cal BP.

New radiocarbon dates from Geißenklösterle even suggest the presence of the Aurignacian in the Swabian Jura already prior to the Heinrich 4 cold phase, with the Aurignacian beginning around 42,5 k.a. cal BP. Willendorf II/3 also fits into this timeframe (38-39 k.a. BP-non calibrated dates- within the Schwallenbach I Interstadial). 

Figure 3
Calibrated C-14 Data from S/W-France (Figure 3) question the uniqueness of an Aurignacian in Middle Europe, earlier than in other European regions ("Kulturpumpe" theory) : At Abri Pataud, Higham et al. reported nine discrete Aurignacian levels that span the  Aurignacian I and Aurignacian II beginning immediately before the Heinrich-Event 4.

During the Aquitanian Aurignacian I, a strong identity in the intentions and modalities of blade and bladelet production is apparent from site to site.

The “ideal” blade (i.e., that which will be used as a tool blank) is large and, above all, wide and thick; its profile is in general curbed, and extensions of cortex often remain.

Preforming of cores tends to be minimal: crests are rather uncommon, and not well made. The single striking platform is rejuvenated through the removal of thick core tablets.

The removal of blades is always effected through direct soft hammer percussion, using an organic hammer, and is carefully prepared: facetted or spur butts predominate .The size of blade cores does not vary with raw-material: blade production stops as soon as the length falls below 8-10 cm, at which time the width of blanks is of 2-3 cm.

Tools on blades are for the most part endscrapers and laterally retouched pieces, like the large blade, displayed here.  The size of blades is often severely reduced through successive episodes of retouch, and the same blank may also go through different typological stages in the course of its technical life time.

Figure 3: from MOUTON, P., R. JOFFROY:  Le gisement aurignacien des rois a Mouthiers (Charente). 9 me supplement a "Gallia".  Paris, CNRS, 1958.

Provenance: Collection Vanderkeulen (BE