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2019-01-17 08:46:29   •   ID: 2064

Trifacial Concepts during the Early Middle Paleolithic of S/W-France

Figure 1 Dorsal View
These are two trifacial core tools (biface triédrique, triface, pic sur dièdre cortical) from the Bergerac vincinity, near Combe Brune, the larger is about 14 cm long.

They represent two common morphologies within the trifacial concept with with either symmetrical triangular or asymmetrical triangular cross sections (Figure 1 and 2)

They exhibit a planar ventral side which has been carefully shaped and reshaped by flat retouches, although some of the original cortex remained (Figure 2). The pieces (contra V. Mourre - see attached files) are certainly no preforms, but elaborated tools.

About the typical appearance of original preforms from the Bergeracois Region - see: Figure 3 and 1602

These rough outs already show quite well the design of the finally finished stone tool.

It may be considered, that the initial pieces were preformed geofacts, which are common in the area, and were shaped by little effort, which has been demonstrated for the Bergeracois ensembles, but also for similar core tools (Bocksteinmesser) of the Central European Keilmessergruppen (KMG), recently reported by Berrin Cep / Tübingen.

Funcionally " this system produces a robust punctiform tool with a trihedral morphology in section, which is more difficult to obtain with bifacial shaping systems)" (Cyrielle and Bourguignon 2019)

Figure 2 Ventral View
Trifacial concepts (É Boëda) are pretty common in several ensembles of the early Middle Paleolithic in S/W-France ("Meridional Acheulian") but they are only present within a limited geographic triangle between the Dordogne and the Isle Valley in the Aquitaine.

According to E. Boeda the trifacial concept is only an adaptation to flint blocks with a triangular cross-section facilitating the production of trifacial Handaxes and Pics in the Bergeracois.

Consequently this concept would not be the expression of particular traditions but rather depend on the use of blocks with a specific morphology and on the quality of the available flint.

He noted that the deposits of the Meridional Acheulian were always located on solifluction flows delivering gel-fractured blocks, contrary to the bifacial industries, that we usually perceive as “good workmanship" from Northern France.

In this respect, he takes up the hypotheses of P. Villa and A. Tavoso, thus implying that the variability observed, being solely the consequence of the raw material, that was used.

Anyhow we can not a priori refute the hypothesis, that using blocks with a triangular cross-section was a conscious choice of their makers.

Conscious choice could also be an idea for the particularity, that many of the Bergeracois ensembles (Cantalouette, les Pendus and Barbas) are characterised by Flake Cleavers. This was first observed and published by J. and G. Guichard in 1966 see here: 2017 . Flake Cleavers are notorious rare further north, albeit excellent raw material was present in large quantities.

It has to be mentioned, that in the Bergeracois core tools are always rare in excavated sites but common in surface Ensembles and that the early MP (MIS 9-6) in S/W–France is extremely diversified, especially regarding its debitage (opportunistic, discoid, rarely early Levallois, Kombewa, trifacial...).

Trifacial cores and core-tools are known from the following dated sites:

  • Pech de l’Azé II: stratum 6-8 with ESR dates between 133 and 252 k.a.(MIS6/7)

  • Combe-Grenal level 59; 130 k.a. (MIS 6)

  • Betit Bost Level 2 with TL dates around 340-270 k.a.(MIS 9/8)

  • Cantalouette 1 (niv. V) with ESR dates around 223 ± 20 k.a.(MIS7)

  • Combe Brune 2 (niv. X) with ESR dates of 195 ± 16 (MIS7 /early MIS6)

  • Barbas C'4 sup with ESR dates around 239 k.a.(MIS 7)

Figure 3 Trieder Preform
Many sites in the Bergeracois with trifacial tools are still not finally dated or they come from surface open air scatters, like the tools shown in Figure 1 and 2.

The abundant high quality flint of the region certainly prompted the specific character of these artifacts, but it remains strange, that other regions with similar opportunities in lithic production during the early MP (Middle Loire region; Northern France), remained virtually free of the systematic use of a trifacial concept and the production of Flake-Cleavers. An exception is shown here: 1087 .

In Northern France such artifacts reappeared not before late MIS6/early MIS5-see 1532

Compared to Europa, African Trifacial Handaxes are commen, especially during the Early and Middle Phases of the Acheulian-see 1602 .

In Central and East Europe a tricacial concept becomes important within the KMG- interaction sphere.