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2020-09-07 11:36:18   •   ID: 2201

Keep your feet dry! An isolated Tanged Point from Sylt

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows Sylt and the islands of Föhr und Amrum from the space.

Sylt is the island in the Middle of the picture, connected by the "Hindenburg Dam" with the mainland (Wikipedia Commons - Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V).

Today, Sylt is an island in northern Germany, part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein, and well known for the distinctive elongated shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia.

Sylt was created by a moraine of the penultimate Glaciation covered by long sandy beaches and sand dunes of Pleistocene origin. On the western side there is a 30 m high cliff coast, the 'red cliff'.

In northern Germany three ice advances of the Fenno-Scandinavian ice sheet are widespread documented.

Elster, Saale and Weichsel with two interglacials: Holstein warm period (between Elster and Saale) and Eem warm period (between Saale and Weichsel).

During Glacials, due to the binding of large masses of water in the glacier ice, the sea level was lower than it is today. The lowering of the sea level is known as regression. What becomes clear- Sylt and the adjacent continental shell were dry land during Glacial conditions.

Figure 2
Whether Sylt was Part of Doggerland (opinions diverge about this issue; but most possible the Islands were always part of Continental Europe) or not- is irrelevant in our context.

At the time of the highest level of the Weichsel glaciation, the sea level was about 100 m lower and thus most of the North Sea was land-based.

During Interglacial conditions, sea levels rose (transgression). The sea drowned parts of the inland. Marine sediments, e.g. near Hamburg, testify this for the beginning of the Holocene.

The end of the last Glacial (Weichsel) begins with a continuous climatic warming that occurred after the Late Glacial Maximum (LGM at ca 24 k.a. Cal BP).

The Weichselian late glacial, often referred to as last glacial-interglacial transition or last termination (ca. 13-10, k.a. Cal BP was a period of rapid climate change.

The Bølling-Allerød interstadial is the main warm phase during the Weichselian late glacial that is followed by the cold Younger Dryas stadial.

Figure 3
During the warming in the early Holocene (Preboreal), the sea level rose again. Initially, this happened relatively quickly in the so-called Litorina transgression with an average increase of 50 cm per century (up to 2500 BC).

For the next 3500 years, the Dunkirk transgression occurred with an increase of about 15 per century. Only parts of the continental shelf, remained beyond the border line between land and sea, among them the North Frisian Islands.

Until 1362 Sylt could be reached overland during low tide. Afterwards Sylt became a real island after a massive storm tide washed away a lot of sediment between Sylt and the mainland.

Figures 2-4 display a 5 cm long tanged Point found in 1949 in the dunes of the Island. It was made of Nordic Flint, which a thick orange patination.

Although the taxonomy of Late Paleolithic points is currently questioned, in traditional terms the artifact shown here, is an Ahrensburg Point, according the classification of Wolfgang Taute.

Ahrensburgian Points date to the younger Dryas with lower sea levels than today. This means that Sylt was accessible for late Pleistocene hunters without getting wet feet.

Figure 3
Although Riede proposed to classify tanged Points rather by their Function (Spear vs. Arrow) and found by Geometric morphometrics a high variability in these artifacts, without a clear chronological pattern, a younger Dryas age for "Ahrensburg" points remains paradigmatic and is evidenced by just a few stratigraphic intact and valid sites.

A recent paper compared two sites with successfull refits from the Ahrensburg tunnel valley- Teltwisch 2 and Teltwisch Mitte - for the definition of an older group (Teltwisch Mitte) without Zonhoven points and long blades and a younger group characterized by the presence of these implements at Teltwisch 2 (Mavel et al. 2019).

the Story goes on - even by the use of old collections from the 1970ies!

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