2018-02-26 16:34:52 • ID: 1736
Handaxe from Petit Spiennes
This is a Handaxe from Petit Spiennes (Mesvin) with a secondary "coup de tranchet latéraux" (lateral Burin spall). According to the local stratigraphy it may belong to MIS 10.
The Mons area (Belgium, Province of Hainaut, Wallonia Region) is famous for its Neolithic Flint mines, which are nowadays UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The mines at Spiennes are covering more than 100 ha, the Neolithic mining area of Petit Spiennes about 14 ha.- see 1738
Underground flint mining was taking place in this area between 4,4 and 4,2 k.a. BC cal, making Spiennes one of the oldest mining sites in Europe.
First Paleolithic tools were found during the early formation of Prehistoric Research and reported by G. de Mortillet during the late 19th century (Bulletins de la Société d'Anthropologie de Paris, IV° Série, tome 2, 1891. pp. 565-568). After 80 years of the surface collections by inhabitants and Antiquarians, scientific excavations finally took place at Petit Spiennes at the Mesvin IV site.
The Mesvin-Spiennes area is one of the richest regions of early and middle Paleolithic sites in Belgium. A sequence of fluvial terraces of the river Haine has been recognized. It is constituted by a terrace staircase of 4 levels: the Pa d’la l’iau terrace (MIS12), the Petit-Spiennes terrace (MIS12), the Mesvin terrace (MIS10) and the Helin quarry gravel C (MIS6). - see: 1534 .
Mesvin IV, part of the Mesvin Terasse seems to be one of the earliest Middle Paleolithic assemblage from continental north-west Europe and was excavated from fluvial sediments.
The assemblage was associated with a fauna dominated by mammoth, woolly rhino and horse and interpreted as reflecting a cold, open environment and on the basis of U-series dates,currently dating to MIS 10 (ca 350 k.a BP).
The lithic ensemble is composed of bifaces, often with "coups de tranchet latéraux" (so-called Prodnik-spalls) as shown in this post (Figure 2) together with Levallois flake- and blade-tools (scrapers: - simple, convergent, déjeté) and bifacial backed knifes very similar to Prodniks.
Remarkable, the Mesvin IV assemblage is characterized by a good control of Levallois, discoid and blade technology and a considerable high degree of variability regarding these techniques. The Levallois component, although not often mentioned in the Literature is maybe one of the oldest manifestation of this technique in Europe.
Although some Prehistorians once wanted to use the presence of Prodnik-spalls as a chronological marker, this technique appears at different continents and at different time-points and may be a functional trait, that was repeatedly re-invented.
Good examples of the Prodnik technology have been found at Dakhleh Oasis (Egypt; [OIS7 or 9], Cotte St. Brelade (Jersey) [OIS7/6 ], Mont de Beuvry (Normandy) , l’abri du Musée (Dordogne) [OIS4? ], Buhlen (Hessen) [pre OIS4? ] and several other Middle European KMG- sites, mainly from MIS3. Microware analysis revealed that such tools were most often used for butchery and that the tranchet blow technique was used for renovation of bifacial artifacts.
Resources and images in full resolution:
- Image: 2021-10-01_spiennes1side.jpg
- Image: 2021-10-01_spiennes_3down.jpg
- Extern Link: whc.unesco.org…
- Extern Link: archive.org…leprhistoriquea01mortgoog
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…338951037_Revision_du_cadre_chronostratigraphique_des_assemblages_Levallois_issus_des_nappes_alluviales_du_Pleistocene_moyen_dans_le_bassin_de_la_Haine_Belgique
- Extern Link: www.researchgate.net…282148735_Fouilles_paleolithiques_2014_a_Petit-Spiennes_dans_la_nappe_de_Mesvin_et_les_depots_pleistocenes_la_surmontant_Premiers_resultats
- Extern Link: core.ac.uk…29038944.pdf
- Extern Link: biblio.naturalsciences.be…np01_70-74.pdf
- Extern Link: discovery.ucl.ac.uk…Herisson_The_emergence_of_the_Middle_Palaeolithic.pdf