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2018-08-19 07:13:51   •   ID: 2017

Sorry No Need For LCTs!

Figure 1
Figure 2
This is a 14 cm long Flake Cleaver from the Bergerac Region, a surface find from the 1920ies.

In contrast to Europe the hallmark of many African Acheulian sites are Large Cutting Tools (LCTs), made from Large Flakes (LFA)s detached from “giant cores” primarily handaxes and cleavers. This mode of production was first recognized by Isaac during the 1960ies.

According to Reynal et al. (2017):

LFA assemblages from a very wide geographical and even chronological range are grouped together, following these criteria:

-most part of the bifaces blanks are large flakes detached from giant cores;

-giant cores were flakes through predetermined methods (Sharon 2009);

-large flake production shows a propensity for coarse-grained rock types rather than from fine- grained raw materials (Sharon 2008);

-most bifaces and cleavers were shaped with minimal retouch of the ventral face thinning the flake blank’s butt-bulb, given the high degree of predetermination of the blanks;

-LFA assemblages contain significant frequencies of cleavers (Tixier 1956);

- most bifaces have pointed tips, whereas broad- tipped ovate bifaces are rare

LCTs very likely emerged in East Africa during the Early Pleistocene but have been reported from a wide range of areas, spanning South Africa, Israel (GBY), the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus Region, Eastern Georgia to India (even beyond the Movius line).

They are present from Unit L of Thomas 1 Quarry / Casablance At 1 my BP but also from Middle Pleistocene inventories at this key site: Sidi Abderrahman, Grotte des Ours, STIC Quarry.

Europe beyond the Pyrenees, with the important exception of Iberia and a small, narrow stretch along the Garonne and Tarn Rivers in Southern France, where flake cleaver were made on Quartzite, seems to be the only larger region with a quasi absence of LCT Acheulean.

Figure 3
It is therefore of importance that the LCT technique was also observed in Flint in the Bergeracois region (Cantalouette, les Pendus and Barbas).

This was first published by J and G Guichard in 1966. According to their systematical work about Bifacial and Flake Cleavers at les Pendus, the Cleaver shown here fits the defination of a flake cleaver with bilateral longitudinal retouches and bilateral beveled edges (with several transversal tranchet blows on one side; Type 14; Figure 3).

Large Flakes are an important prerequisite for the production of Flake cleavers made on Quartzite or Flint. In Europe, raw material constraints cannot be regarded as an explanation for the quasi absence of Flake cleavers.

The production of "Giant Cores" and large flakes on flint would have been indeed possible in Europe, for example in the Bergerac Region, in the Tourainne , in N-France and the UK. The same holds true for several high quality Quartzite resources outside the Garonne and Tarn.

The reasons for flake cleaver manufacturing in Europe at discrete regions have been debated since the first discoveries of these industries.

Obermaier (1924) and later Bordes (1953) asserted that the presence of flake cleavers indicates an “African influence” linked with the migration of Acheulean populations (Bordes, 1953).

Until recently there was no archaeological evidence to demonstrate a chronological continuity between the Acheulean in Africa or at GBY (800 k.a.) and the Middle Pleistocene Acheulean of Europe.

The appearance of the Acheulean in Europe north of the Pyrenees is dated to ca. 700–500 k.a. , Hundred of thousand years after GBY.

This Acheulean is non-LCT – that means that large flakes are not the main blank technology.

Anyhow during the last 5 years or so some indications for a possible contact between N- Africa and Iberia via the Gibraltar street appeared, evidenced by LCTs during the Late middle Pleistocene in both Africa and Iberia. - see 2187 .

Finally, it has been proposed that flake cleavers were manufactured to respond to a specific functional needs . This hypothesis would imply that the presence of flake cleavers was determined by the activities carried out at a site, and that there was therefore a complementary relationship between sites. Empiric proof is still missing.

Therefore an overarching theory about the very limited production of Flake Cleavers during the Acheulean in Europa is still missing. How to explain a „Negative Tradition“?

Suggested Reading:

Guichard, J. and G. Guichard 1966 À propos d’un site Acheuléen du Bergeracois (Les Pendus, Commune de Creysse). Bifaces-hachereaux et hachereaux sur éclats. Aperçu typologique. Actes de la Société Linnéenne de Bordeau 103, Bordeaux.