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2018-02-25 17:11:20   •   ID: 1734

Segmented Obsidian Blades from Corsica - the principle of artificial breakage

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In this post I display multiple and still very sharp segments of obsidian blades, found at the Cavazoz Rock shelter in Southern Corsica.

Intentional breakage of artifacts is documented since the European middle Paleolithic. The lithic industry from Champlost (Secteur Sud; Yonne; late OIS4) contains numerous broken elements. This peculiarity seems to result from some specific lithic exploitation processes.

Such blades are pieces with intentional breaks (fractures volontaires) produced by percussion induced fractures from a longer blades.

The resulting break surfaces are usually transverse to the long axis of the blank and have no pronounced concavity. It is very likely that these intentionally fractured segmented blades were later reassembled as knives or sickles.

The regular segmentation of simple (non –backed) blades without any substantial preparation has been known since the early European Gravettian, although we know some isolated pieces from the Middle Paleolithic in S/W-France. The use of segmented blades as sickle elements during the Neolithic is a worldwide phenomenon and continued during later times.  

A prominent example is the intentionally breakage of large “Canaanean” blades during the Early Bronze Age of the Middle East. The specialized production of Canaaean blades and their segmentation has recently described for the Titris Höyük site in Southeastern Turkey by Britt E Hartenberger in her thesis (via

A Middle-European example of Neolithic blade segments comes from the Lenderscheid (Frielendorf, Schwalm-Eder-Kreis; Germany), LBK-quartzite extraction site near Kassel. Here, thousands of these segments were found during the last 60 years indicating that the local outcrop could be one major resource for such artefacts in North Hessen.

The objective of Neolithic knappers at Lenderscheid was clearly to surpass the needs of the local communities, with a view to long-distance distribution well outside the region. Of course, identical blades from several LBK-sites in Kassel and Hofgeismar are known.

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