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2018-02-12 18:37:30   •   ID: 1726

The Middle European Micoquian / KMG/ Prądnik Cycle

Figure 1
Here you see you see a classic Keilmesser , displaying the characteristis of the Middle European Micoquian from the Franconian Jura

The Micoquian ensembles in Middle and East Europe are characterised by a wide spectrum  of bifacially-worked tools, namely by different forms of assymetrical handaxes, backed knives (Keilmesser), flat bifaces (Faustkeilblätter), small pointed bifaces (Fäustel), half-Bifaces (Halbkeile), bifacial scrapers and leaf-points.

The term “Micoquian” was originally coined by O. Hauser, who thought ,that the industry of the upper layers at La Micoque, was an indipendent stage between Mousterien and Aurignacian.

In 1924 Kozlowski described the findings of a middle paleolithic bifacial ensemble at Okkienik near Krakow as “Micoquien culture”.

Krukowski in 1939 gave an Account of the East –Central European bifacial Knifes, called by him the „Pradnik–Cycle". He also introduced a dynamic view on these artifacts, taking into account resharping and reworking of these Tools.

Figure 2
Prondnik is the name of the small river that flows through the karst area north of Kraków, full of Abris and Caves, many of them with bifacial chacteristic inventories.

In  the 1950ies,  Zotz gave an systematic overview about the Micoquian in Middle Europe, still worth reading. He already used the term "Micoquian" largely in its present meaning.

In 1967 Bosinski systematized these earlier approaches and introduced the concept of a “Middle European Micoquian" as a well defined period in time and space into the international discussion.

After the publication of Bosinskis work, Chmielewski wrote an important overview of the Polish industries with asymmetrical bifaces, not included in Bosinskis thesis, which he called "Micoquo-Prondnikien”.

During the 1990ies a new generation of archaeologists in Middle Europe renamed the Micoquian into “Keilmessergruppen” (KMG) to avoid confusion with the French “Micoquien”  at the still undated layer N at the type-site.

In Europe first typical “Keilmesser” can be found at Mesvin IV (Belgium; U/Th dates: 250-300 k.a).

The site Pietraszyn 49 in Upper Silesia, Initially dated by TL at 130±10 k.a., shows he whole spectrum of bifacially retouched Micoquien tools. Anyhow the site was recently redated to MIS3.

Many sites assigned to the Micoquian in middle Europe seem to be either from the early last interglacial (OIS 5 c and a; Ciemna, Zwolen, Okkienik, Wylotne, lower levels at Balve, Buhlen) or from OIS3 (Kůlna 7a, Salzgitter Lebenstedt and the G-layers of the Sesselfelsgrotte), while only one single secure Micoquien site in Northern Middle Europe is known from OIS4: Lichtenberg in the lowlands of Lower Saxony.

New geochrolological and multiple TL- data indicate an age for the original find horizon (now called Lichtenberg I) to early MIS4 (GS 19 [71.3 ± 7.3] k.a. , indicating that Neanderthals even survived in very harsh environments.

Micoquian may be found beginning with OIS 5e along the rivers of the large East European Plain: Ripiceni Izvor III and Korolevo IIa at the river Pruth;, Zotomir and Rhikta (Dnieper), Chotylevo (Desna), Antonowka, Nosovo (Don) Sukhaya Mechetka (Volga). Numerous sites are known from the Krim (Ak-Kaya; Zaskalnaya, Prolom, Sary-Kaya, Volchy Grot, Kabazi I und V).

While most of these sites are only dated by geostratigraphy- Weiß et al. recently proofed at Chotylevo, that clear Eastern KMG ensembles were already present during MIS 5a by reliable TL data.

This Observations are of some importance, because they support clearly a „ long chronology“- contra Richter/ Köln, who suggest a MIS 3 date for all Central and East European sites.

In Northern France, several ensembles, who have many affinities to the Middle European Micoquian have been described after the reception of Bosinskis work during the last years: Mont de Beuvry and Tréissény (Bretagne), Champlost and Germolles in the Bourgogne, Saint-Acheul and Gentelles at the Somme, Riencourt les Bapaume near Callais and Verriers and  Vinneuf near Paris.

It seems probable that some of these sites date to MIS 4 and are, together with the Crimean Peninsula refugee areas under the harsh conditions of the MIS 4.

Reseach during the last years therefore support the idea that the KMG May display a long-lasting tradition of Homo Neanderthaliensis beginning in OIS 6 or even earlier, and lasts until the late OIS3.

Others claim, that the bifaciallity of implements is mainly the result of functional factors like the duration of stay, the field of activity at the site, and the mobility of the groups which used bifacial artefacts both as finished tools and high-quality cores.

Anyhow the Micoquian can be seen as an early marker of cultural identity of Homo Neanderthaliensis during the last glacial, somewhat different from the patchy archaeological  record during earlier periods.

Suggested reading:

Gisela Freund: Sesselfelsgrotte I. Grabungsverlauf und Stratigraphie. Saarbrücken 1998.

Wolfgang Weissmüller: Sesselfelsgrotte II. Die Silexartefakte der Unteren Schichten der Sesselfelsgrotte. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des Moustérien. Saarbrücken 1995.

Jürgen Richter: Sesselfelsgrotte III. Der G-Schichten-Komplex der Sesselfelsgrotte. Saarbrücken 1997. Jürgen Richter: Die 14C-Daten aus der Sesselfelsgrotte und die Zeitstellung des Micoquien/M.M.O. In: Germania, Band 80/I, 2002, S. 1–22

Utz Böhner: Sesselfelsgrotte IV. Die Schicht E3 der Sesselfelsgrotte und die Funde aus dem Abri I am Schulerloch. Späte Moustérien-Inventare und ihr Verhältnis zum Micoquien. Stuttgart 2008.

Gerhard Bosinski: Die mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa. Fundamenta A/4. Köln & Graz 1967

Stephan Veil: Ein mittelpaläolithischer Fundplatz aus der Weichsel-Kaltzeit in der norddeutschen Tiefebene bei Lichtenberg. Landkreis Lüchow-Dannenberg. Zwischenbericht über die archäologischen und geowissenschaftlichen Untersuchungen 1987–1992. In: Germania. 72, 1994, S. 1–65

Provenience: Collection Mayer (GER)