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2018-02-26 16:43:49   •   ID: 1737

Neolithic Sickle

Fig. 1
  This is a superb crescent-shaped finely serrated and thin bladed bifacial Danish Neolithic flint sickle dating to the later 3rd. millennium B.C. The final Debitage of such tools is virtually indistinguishable from the late-stage reduction of contemporary daggers.

Unfortunately many of these sickles have been found “to early” (during the 19th and early 20th century) and therefore the context of most of these findings is not known. If they were used inserted in curved handles or attached to a proximal handle remains an open question.

While the late Neolithic / Early Bronze Age Daggers of Northern Europe have been gained much scientific attention, there is no published systematic literature about the context, trace ware studies and geographic distribution of these sickles.

Sickle blades become visible in the archaeological record during the late Kebaran and Natufian of the Levant. Most of them are simple backed blade segments and are additionally identified by a characteristic sickle gloss which shows, that these implements have been used to cut out the silica rich stems of cereals.

Note that there are unquestionable sickles without any gloss, and that gloss can also be formed under other conditions, for example when using these artifacts as threshing sledge inserts. Levantine Epipaleolithic and Neolithic sickles were usually hafted along their backs, parallel to the working edge, and not Dagger like with a proximal handle.

The handle was made from organic material (usually wood and bone). A good example is the sickle found at the Early Natufian site of Wadi Hammeh 27. A complete sickle is also known from the Fayum Neolithic. Both examples can be found in the external links.

Wooden sickle handles are known from the site of La Draga, an early Cardial Neolithic village, located on the eastern shore of the Estany de Banyoles (Lake Banyoles) in Catalonia. This site dates from the end of the 6th millennium BC. At La Draga the blades were inserted into one side of the tool, at right angles to the handle.