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2017-12-01 16:52:41   •   ID: 1690

Federmesser and Azilian: Simplification in Action

Figure 1
This is a Azilian Bipointe (first item on on the right) from early Excavations at the La Madeleine Rock-shelter. Peyrony described that such artifacts were present in the upper parts of the "Magdalenian VI" at the site. It remains open for discussion if the bipointes of La Magdalene  were part of a very late Magdalenian or of an early Azilian, not recognized by Peyrony. The other items are Monopoints ("Federmesser") from the Leudal area in South Limburg, Netherlands.

As discussed earlier (see for example here: 1693 )the Azilian and Federmesser groups are a Pan-European phenomenon starting towards the end of the Oldest Dryas, encompassing the Bølling, Middle Dryas and Allerød late-glacial pollen zones. At least, in the case of continental north-western Europe, the traditional pollen zones are clearly correlated to the now standard Greenlandic ice core stages. All fall into Greenland Interstadial (GI- 1): Oldest Dryas (GI-1d) and Allerød-Bølling (GI-1c-a)

Typologically the standard model for the Azilian shows a succession from Bipoints to Monopoints followed by Monopoints with basal retouches (Maulerie Points). The latest Epipaleolithic in Europe shows a trend to more diversified ensembles (Laborian in S/W-France; Belloisien in N-France; Ahrensburgian in N/W-Europe; Epigravettian in S/E-Europe)

The process of “Azilianization” began in Southern Europe and is not fully understood. The contribution of the Magdalenian and Epigravettian to the formation of the Azilian remains unclear. The discussion about why this transition happened is moving away from simple explanations, based on an ecolgical determinism. According to A. Thévenin (2005) the spread of the curved backed points began independly of climatic changes during the late glacial interstadial.

In contrast to the Magdalenian  an evident increase of the utilisation of local resources took place during the Azilian / Federmesser complex. These people  acted more regional in their habitats. The Chaîne opératoire of the Azilian /Federmesser-Complex is in direct opposition to the  material and artisanal production of the late Magdalenian. 

Lithic assemblages from Federmesser or Azilian-associated sites always show a less- strict, less-conform lithic tradition compared to e.g. Magdalenian  albeit with Magdalenian influences intact. Maybe the new techniques display the break down of a rigid and standardized group ideology compared to the preceding technocomplexes.

We observe a rapid (in archaeological terms) and complete change of lithic ensembles over wide part of Europe. There must have been contexts (environmental, ideological and others) that called for such radical reactions. This rapid response shows how open minded people, normally acting regionalistic, actively accepted the innovations of the Azilian / Federmesser system, by using preexisting long range networks, created during the Magdalenian and Epigravettian.




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