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2018-08-12 07:07:27   •   ID: 2016

From the Central European Micoquian to Keilmessergruppen

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
The Middle European Micoquian was conceptualized by L. Zotz in the early 1950ies and this concept was later used by G. Bosinski. The term Micoquian is now mainly used for specific Middle Paleolithic assemblages in central Europe.

In contrast to the Mousterian, which almost totally lacks bifacial elements, a high occurrence of bifacial tools is the defining character of the Micoquian sensu Bosinski. Bosinski described the bifacial component of such industries by characteristic classes of artifacts:

-Keilmesser (backed asymmetric bifaces). The functional unity of a Keilmesser is characterized by opposing an active edge to a passive back. Different types have been described: Bocksteinmesser (Figure 1), Klausennischenmesser, Prodniks (Figure2)- and many others.

-Asymmetric elongated bifaces with a thick often unworked basis Fäustel, which are small bifaces

-Faustkeilblätter (Figure 3; symmetric or asymmetrical flat artifacts with a finely retouched point, one side is covered by retouches, the other side is only partially retouched)

-Halbkeile (“splitted” elongated unifaces with a D-shaped cross-section) Bifacial scrapers and leaf-shaped scrapers are also very common, whilst leaf points only appear sporadically, but often are finely made

-A "fond commun" of typical Mousterian tools, such as points, scrapers, notches, denticulates

The production of the flake tools may be characterized by a Levallois, discoidal or Quina technique. In addition a laminar technique is sometimes part of the French ensembles.

Bosinski proposed an internal chronology beginning during OIS5: Inventartyp Bockstein-Klausennische- Schambach (Buhlen, Prodnikian of the Krakow vicinity)-Röhrsheim.

He justified this succession by assumptions of an OIS5 date for Bockstein and the stratigraphy of Balve where he suggested, that a "Bockstein" inventory was followed by "Klausennische" assemblages.

This theory was falsified by several lines of evidence. in the 1990ies by O. Joeris, who showed that Prodniks were already present in the lower strata at the Balve cave.

In addition, several other ensembles (Salzgitter (MIS3), Lichtenberg (MIS3), Pietraszyn 49 (MIS6), Dzierźyslaw I, Mesvin4 (MIS6), Sesselfels (MIS3), show individual characteristics and could not be easily incorporated into Bosinski’s theoretical succession.

Bockstein, which should be the first expression of Bosinski’s Micoquian was later dated into OIS3 and therefore was rather late.

Figure 4
At many sites Keilmesser (Figure e 4: Keilmesser from Buhlen; Hessen)are far more numerous than Micoquekeile and Faustkeilblätter (Buhlen, Ciemna) and therefore more recently the term “Keilmessergruppe” is now preferred.

Calling the middle European Micoquian “Keilmessergruppe” (KMG), focuses on ensembles with Keilmesser, and delineate entities (e.g the “Moustérien à pièces bifaciales dominantes”) which share some elements with the KMG (bifacial scraper, Faustkeilblätter, Fäustel), but do not bear Keilmesser and surely have a very different conceptualization.

There are two interpretations about the Micoquian: a functional and a rather culture-historical approach.

To explain the data from the Sesselfels-Grotte, where “pure Mousterian levels” and “Micoquian” levels are interstratified, Richter proposes that a bifacial mode of artifact production was always present in the social memory of Neanderthals, but only one option in their repertoire: MMO (“Mousterian mit Micoquian-Option”) .

He supposes 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 pattern of the groups which used bifacial artifacts both as finished tools and high-quality cores.

In Richter’s concept, Neanderthals adapted to the constraints of their environment, but made no conscious cultural choice. In addition, Richter wants to confine the Micoquian to OIS3-which is certainly a violation of the corrent data.

Some researchers (Jöris, Kozlowski, Neruda, Ringer), suggest that the KMG display a long-lasting tradition of Homo Neanderthaliensis beginning in OIS 6 or even earlier, which lasts until the late OIS3.

Indeed, 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, dated by TL at 130±10 ka, already shows the whole spectrum of bifacially retouched Micoquian tools.

The Micoquian can 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), dating between OIS5-3.

Many sites assigned to the Micoquian in middle Europe seem to be from the early last glacial (OIS 5 c and a; Ciemna, Zwolen, Okkienik, lower levels at Balve and Buhlen, Kůlna 9b )

Others are securely dated to OIS3: Wylotne, Piekary I, Kulna 7a,6, Lichtenberg, Salzgitter Lebenstedt and the G-layers of the Sesselfels-Grotte), while no Micoquian settlements in Middle Europe are known during OIS4.

In Northern France, several ensembles, who have many affinities to the Middle European Micoquian have been described after the reception of Bosinski’s 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. An extremely interesting site is the Abri du Musee at Les Eyzies with classic prodniks during OIS4 (?)

Ruebens recently showed, that at several sites in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Western and Northern France both typical Micoquian and Mousterian bifacial elements occur, leaving a typological dilemma as to which technocomplex they should be assigned.

This “mixed ensembles could indicate technological exchange over a contact zone of populations with a different stone knapping tradition”.

Although it is clear the all the factors, that Richter takes into account ,for the explanation of his MMO (“Mousterian mit Micoquian-Option”) play a role in the composition of Middle European Middle Paleolithic Ensembles, I would agree with Karen Ruebens that “the Mousterian and Micoquian are two closely interlinked but different taxonomic entities. Despite the similar basic knapping and touching techniques, some clear differences (especially in the character of the bifacial elements and their regional patterning) occur”.

To avoid mistakes: The Micoque site is a middle Pleistocene site with affinities to the "Bocksteingruppe", but 100000 of years earlier- a convergence phenomena.

The Micoquian of N-France (Seine region) is a late Acheulian with essentially symmetric Micoquian handaxes, dated to 100-90 k.a. ago in the Seine region. These Handaxes are very different to asymmetric Bocksteinmesser. See also 1532 .

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