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2021-07-22 21:07:51   •   ID: 2259

The Age of Middle Paleolithic Leaf-Points in Germany

Figure 1
These are different views from a typical bifacial Middle Paleolithic Leaf-Point from the famous Weinberghöhlen Cave Complex at Mauern in Bavaria.

Middle Paleolithic Leaf-Points in Germany are rare (< than 500 pieces in Museums and private Collections).

About the Mauern site see here: 1157 and about the Central European Leafpoints in general -see here: 1528 .

In Germany Leaf-Points were usually found as isolated stray finds without any context. Some were part of larger mixed ensembles from Quarry operations and other specimens were found in caves, but without being part of larger Ensembles, for example in the Oberneder-Cave and the Hohle Stein/Schambach.

In Germany, most of them are found in Hessen-see: 2031 , NRW and S/W-Germany. They are suggested to have been used as Knifes and Projectile Points.

There is a some agreement, that Middle Paleolithic Leafpoints from Germany were a late facies of the local "Central European Micoquian", while other Researchers stated that this Leaf-Points are a variable part of a larger Middle Paleolithic concept, sometimes characterized by a bifacial component and sometimes not.

Figure 2
If defined as an isolated phenomenon the so-called Blattspitzengruppe in Germany has been tentatively dated to a late Middle Paleolithic around 45-55k.a. BP - similar to the Moravian Szeletian.

Different techno-typological concepts are associated with the Leaf-Point-Concept. They were produced both by debitage and faconage approachs.

While a large Leafpoint from Ranis is indistinguishable from Solutrean Points, the Leafpoints from Röhrsheim resemble indeed Lupemban Bifacial Foliates-certainly convergence phenomenon, as stated by Lutz Fiedler sometimes ago. M. Kot recently demonstrated, that the Röhrsheim examples were intentionally broken (M. Kot 2021).

Early Leaf-Points in Central Germany appeared around MIS7 at Ehringsdorf-see: 1630 . You can read the original Publication here:behm blancke ehringsdorf

Unfortunately many Cave-findings so far, with the exception of the Sesselfelsgrotte, have been detected before modern dating methods allowed a reliable age estimate and before microtraceological methods were available. Leaf Points appear during the "Micoquian" in small quantities, at complex sites like Schambach (MIS3), Bockstein-Schmiede (MIS5 or 3), Große Grotte at Urspring (age unknown) Röhrsheim (age unknown) and at the Sesselfelsgrotte in Bavaria ("G-Schicht Komplex" MIS3).

The most important stratified findings with larger quantities of Leaf-Points come from the Weinberghöhlen at Mauern (Bavaria) and the Ilsenhöhle at Ranis (Thuringia).

Figure 3
The Blattspitzen from Mauern in Bavaria was deposited during an MIS3-Interstadial and are also clearly associated with middle Paleolithic ("Micoquian") material, while Stratum 2 of the Ranis site, also deposited during an Interstadial, shows both Jerzmanovice (Beedings)- points (or Point-Blades) and classical bifacial Blattspitzen.

In S/W Germany, the last time similar finds in an Archeological context were recovered in 1936 at the Haldensteinhöhle, where two isolated Leaf-Points of great beauty together with a large unretouched blade were excavated-see here: Haldensteinhöhle . Anyhow the exact localisation of the blade within the stratigraphy remains dubious (Hahn 1982 personal communication).

Now, for the first time since 70 years, it has been possible to excavate and examine a Leaf-Point in an archaeological context using modern methods. It was found in situ at Hohle Fels Cave from the archaeological horizon (AH) X ca. 1,2 m below the base of the Aurignacian from the site. The tip is 7.6 centimeters long, 4.1 centimeters wide, 0.9 centimeters thick- see here: Hohler Fels Leaf-Point

It was a surprise, that it was localized in the lowest Middle Paleolithic stratum of the cave and therefore contradicting the paradigm of being a marker of a late Middle Paleolithic as suggest before.

The Middle Paleolithic at Hohle Fels is a typical unifacial Mousterian, with Levallois affinities. The Leaf Point was dated by ESR to an age of older than 65 k.a.

Figure 1
The second surprise was provided by a microtraceological investigation led by V. Rots. For the first time it was possible to prove that a Central European leaf point was a shafted projectile.

According to Rots "the leaf tip was shafted at its flat end with a plant-based adhesive and strengthened with appropriate fibers, animal sinew or leather straps. Thus, a gluing into a specially adapted wooden shaft can be assumed".

This find shows that even a single well-preserved artifact, when using modern excavation methods, has enormous explanatory power that revises previous assumptions.

Suggested Reading:

G.Freund: Die Blattspitzen des Paläolithikums in Europa ; 1952

G. Freund. Das Paläolithikum der Oberneder-Höhle - Ldkr. Kelheim-Donau; 1987

G. Bosinski und R Wetzel: Die Bocksteinschmiede im Lonetal; 1969

G. Bosinski: mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa, 1967

K. Günter: Alt- und mittelsteinzeitliche Fundplätze in Westfalen, Teil 1 + Teil 2; 1986, 1988

K. Günther: Die altsteinzeitlichen Funde der Balver Höhle. Bodenaltertümer Westfalens 8. Münster; 1964

Baales M et al. : Westfalen in der Alt- und Mittelsteinzeit; 2014

Richter J: Sesselfelsgrotte III. Der G-Schichten-Komplex der Sesselfelsgrotte; 1997

Rots V et al: A Leaf Point Documents Hunting with Spears in the Middle Paleolithic at Hohle Fels, Germany / Eine Blattspitze belegt die Jagd mit Speeren im Mittelpaläolithikum am Hohle Fels, Deutschland Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Urgeschichte 30, S.1-28. 2021