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2019-03-04 11:33:31   •   ID: 2080

Twisted Handaxe from Swanscombe (MIS 11)

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This is an ovate / cordiform and twisted handaxe from the upper loam at Swanscombe; 9.5 x 7.5 cm from the Ex. collection of Dr Hugh Alderson Fawcett (1891-1982), UK.

Assemblages with concentrations of twisted ovates in Britain appear to demonstrate a strong chronological correlation toward late MIS11/ early MIS10.- see 1653 .

This hold true for the classic Swanscombe site and was recently confirmed by a further occurrence of an assemblage rich in twisted ovates, from Dierden’s Pit 0,5 km to the North/West of the primary Swanscombe locality.

Indeed, other British MIS 11 sites with twisted Ovates are known from the Solent Valley and Kent.

In Britain it seems that interglacial cycles have some specific signatures, which points to specific traditions of tool-making.

Twisted ovates are mostly found during MIS 11, Levallois techniques appeared in MIS 9–8, Bout Coupé handaxes are indicative of MIS 3 assemblages.

Ensembles with significant proportions of cleavers and ficron handaxes appear to be correlated with MIS 9 deposits, for example at Furze Platte and Cuxton (Bridgeland and White 2014).

It would not be wise to expand these patterns to continental West-Europe. Here the Levallois technique appeared first during MIS 9 and was predominant during MIS7.

MTA and the Bifacial Mousterian of N- France had their own patterns in time and space (MIS 5 and 3), different from the UK sites.

If we understand a twisted handaxe as not-accidental but as a deliberate choice of the knapper, we should ask, what was functionally gained by such a design.

A Suggestion could be, that twisted implements could be used not only as cutting tools but had certain screwing properties, that could be helpful in butchering carcasses more flexible.

Another idea that was put forward by White & Plunkett (2004) that Z-shaped handaxes which were much more common than S- shaped twists may simply indicate "that the earlier knappers had a predisposition to right-handedness comparable with that of modern humans".

Much work for microtraceology, which has so far I am aware not done on this subclass of Handaxes.

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