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2019-11-26 15:25:45   •   ID: 2135

Keilmesser from the Dnjestr Valley

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 1 and 2: At first glance this crescent like, 13 cm long, bifacial Artifact looks like a sickle, well known from the Dnjestr Valley and adjacent areas (see for example here: 1012 ).

Remarkably the Biface is heavily rolled and considerably thicker than its Endneolithic local counterparts.

Neolithic Flint sickles were usually non patinated, knapped by pressure retouch and very thin which is not the case in the artifact of this post.

In my view the artifact shown here is a classic Keilmesser with a concave cutting edge and with a tranchet blow (shown in Figure 3).

Anyhow, it has to be mentioned, that classical tranchet blows are generally rare in the Eastern Micoquian.

Keilmesser subtypes, comparable with the piece shown here, are especially well documented on the Krim Peninsula and were called: "Backed biface type Starosele" or, if non backed: "Sub-crescent uni- or bifacial scraper" (Marks and Monigal),

These Keilmesser are interpreted as one possibel last step of tool rejuvenation of bifacial tools (Marks and Chabaï 1998 pp 160). An example from Staroselje is shown in the first external link- Figure 8.

Morphologically „Bifaces type Starosele“ resemble Micoquian tools from other Crimean sites like the "Hook like" scrapers at Kabazi 5 (Marks and Chabaï 1998 pp 305).

Well executed concave cutting edges, which are rare in Western and Central Europe, are well known on scrapers and points from Kiik-Koba ensembles (sub-crescent points)- see 1727 and Demidenko 2018.

In Comparison to other "Facies" of the Micoquian in the Krim (Ak-Kaya and Kiik-Koba) "..at Staroselje the Micoquian layers are characterized by bifacial points and side scrapers as well as bifaces. Bifacial points and side scrapers have an average share of 15 % of all tools. Unifacial convergent side scrapers and points have an average share of up to 45 % of all tools.

Backed knives (Keilmesser) are in contrast to the Ak-Kaya facie underrepresented (up to 10 % of all tools). The average tool sizes are smaller than in Ak-Kaya assemblages, probably due to a more pronounced state of reduction.

Figure 4
Concerning the tool sizes, Starosele lies in between Ak-Kaya assemblages with biggest average tool sizes and Kiik-Koba inventories with smallest sizes, what is possible due to different stages of reduction
" (Forschungsstelle Altsteinzeit (FAST).

Figure 5
Beside being the product of a specific reduction process, the concave cutting edge may have a specific functional meaning, consequence of a special tool concept. Anyhow this has not been evaluated till now.

The last Pictures (Figure 4 and Figure 5) show a Keilmesser from the Buhlen site in N- Hessen / Germany in comparison to our example (Figure 6).

Figure 6
With a more or less concave cutting edge they are almost identical with the item from the Ukraine, shown in this post. They represent only snapshots of a wide continuum from convex, straight to concave cutting edges, found on richer KMG-sites over Europe- for example at Wylotne / Poland and Sukhaya Mechetka (Stalingradskaya) in the Middle Volga region.

Berin Cep recently displayed "Halbkeile" and Bifaces from the Bocksteinschmiede in the Swabian Jura with concave cutting edges (last external link Figure 2).

This indicates that the Keilmesser Concept inevitably produced similar results, despite a distance of 2500 km between the sites–over an enormous Middle Paleolithic interaction sphere ...

Suggested Reading:

G Bosinski, Wetzel R (1969) Die Bocksteinschmiede im Lonetal. (Veröffentlichungen des Staatlichen Amtes für Denkmalpflege Stuttgart, H. 15.)

G Bosinski (1967) Die mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa. Dissertation. Universität Köln 1963.

Marks A.E. and Chabaï V.P. dir. (1998): The Middle Paleolithic of Western Crimea, vol. 1

Marks A.E. and Monigal K. dir. (1999): The Middle Paleolithic of Western Crimea, vol. 2

Kozlowski S (2006) Wylotne and Zwierzyniec: Paleolithic Sites in Southern Poland