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2019-05-14 12:29:35   •   ID: 2100

Shark Tooth Biface from Thenon / Perigord Noir: MTA or older?

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This is a thin and delicate «Shark Tooth» Biface made from a large flint flake (11x8,5 cm), with bifacial retouches around the entire circumference, found decennia ago at Thenon (Perigord Noir) about 30 km North of Les Eyzies and at 28 kilometers East from Perigueux in S/W-France.

Such items are extremely rare in the Archeological report. Formally they were described as a sub-type of triangular Bifaces.

For Bordes a triangular biface was a piece of developed, working and balanced morphology; they are flat pieces with three rectilinear or slightly convex edges, they must be flat and with a short, straight base.

He distinguished small variations within these strict limits such as elongated triangular (Elongation Index > 1,5) or pieces with slightly concave edges.

Bordes named the latter «Sharks Tooth» for their similarity to the fossilized teeth of Carcharodon megalodon (an example is shown in Figure 3).

Bifacial retouches run around the complete circumference, therefore from a functional point of view all three margins were usable, which calls for some hafting devices.

Only two European Sharks Tooth Bifaces were published so far. The first came from Saint Sauveur (Dordogne). This artifact was published both by Bordes and Dibble / Debenath; were they not able not find a second example?) and randomly assigned to the MTA.

The second one is from Moulins-sur-Céphons (Département de l'Indre). Here "classical Acheulian Bifaces" were mixed (?) with some cordiformes and a Sharks Tooth Biface.

Unfortunately the site is a surface scatter. The context of the artifacts (Acheulian or MTA?) and the homogeneity of the series remains unclear.

Regarding the fact, that no systematic excavations have been reported from Saint Sauveur (Dordogne), The MTA assignation of Sharks Tooth Bifaces remains completely tentative.

The same holds true for the artifact in this post, an isolated "House garden find". While morphologically and technologically the shark teeth Bifaces would fit to an MTA, this has not been proven in detail.

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Anyhow, Sharks Tooth Bifaces appeared in the Old World Archeological record much earlier than MIS 3 (TL-dates for the MTA in S/W-France) and were not rare at Tabun Stratum Ec (Lower Acheulo-Yabrudian ca. 350 k.a. BP).

Another example, certainly also a convergent phenomenon is the presence of Sharks Tooth Bifaces in Nubia near Wadi Halfa, on the shores of "Lake Nubia" (the Sudanese section of Lake Nasser).

Here large scatters of Bifaces were detected on the surface by the Guichards in the 1960ies. Some typological studies on the material suggest that there is an early, middle and late Acheulian represented at some of these sites, but such assumptions were based solely on typology and are as ambiguous as elsewhere.

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Because the Bifaces were always associated with some Levallois debitage it is more probable, that the Wadi Halfa findings represent a specific regional late Acheulian maybe, compared with Tabun Ec, of similar Middle Pleistocene age.

Of great interest at the Wadi Halfa sites is the common occurrence of rare Biface-types: "Hypermicoquid Handaxes", Massiform, Lageniform, Reniform Handaxes and last, but not least: Sharks Tooth Bifaces.

In Addition, some of these these variants also were detected at Khor Abu Anga near Karthoun (see 2085 ).

Illustrations about Shark teeth Handaxes are shown in Figure 5: Left- from Tabun (Garrod and Bate 1937) ; Right- from Wadi Halfa, Nubia (Guichard and Guichard 1965).