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2021-12-07 13:08:07   •   ID: 2285

Geographic setting and spread of the LCT phenomenon over the Old World

Figure 1
This is a large triangular Flake (17x9,5x2,5 cm), made from extremely fine and dense, partially colored Quartzite, found together with similar large blanks, without any retouched artifacts from the Miño River basin in the Galicia Province in Spain.

It was found in a fine sandy layer of an ancient, probably Middle Pleistocene river terrace during the 1940ies. This geological characteristics certainly contributed to a rather fresh, the non rolled and only minimally patinated character of the large flakes that were detected. Some outcrops of the Raw material were available nearby.

Figure 1 shows the dorsal side, while the ventral side with all characteristics of hard hammer production is shown in Figure 2. Such flakes, detached from "Gigant Cores" are one hallmark of the ESA, especially in East Africa.

The production of Large Cutting Tools (LCTs; handaxes, picks and cleavers made from large flakes > 10 cm) was present in Africa from almost the beginnings of the Acheulian technocomplex at ca 1,7 Ma ago until the MSA. Early examples in Africa are known for example at West Turkana, Konso, Olduvai Bed II and Olorgesailie.

It were Goodwin and van Riet Lowe in 1929, who first drew the attention to the production on LCTs from the Vaal-Valley Acheulian in South Africa. Later Isaac described this Innovation as a major cognitive threshold in Human evolution.

Figure 2
Although scientific studies on the LCT phenomenon have never stopped after that, it was the thesis of Gonen Sharon that gave new impulses to the research of such assemblages, by bringing this subject back into the discussion on the basis of more systematic data collection and a Chaîne opératoire approach (see attached files).

Subsequently, a large number of studies on the role of LCTs during the ESA have emerged that have addressed the issue more in depth. Giant Core Technology and the production of LCTs were described from East, South and North Africa; the Levant including Anatolia; the Arabian Peninsula and India, from the Acheulian of the Hunsgi and Baichbal Valleys in China, as well as from Spain and Southern France.

Occasionally LCTs occurred in Central Europe, if appropriate raw material is present -for example on several workshop sites around my Hometown, Kassel (Hessen; German): see: 2051 , where I introduced a 13 cm long Middle Paleolithic Multifunctional LCT-tool from the Lenderscheid site with Scraper and Cleaver features, displayed also in Figure 3 in this post.

This tool is a late appearance of giant core technology, which is also known from other nearby sites like the Reuthersruh site (Luttropp and Bosinski 1970). It would be important to evaluate other inventories of this technology in the Northern Hessen area. From the rich material that exists in various Museum collections in northern Hessen, I know many similar examples.

All Giant core methods were designed to determine the shape of a intended blank by forming a specific scar pattern on the core and/or determining the direction and location of the initial and further blows.

The flakes produced by these methods allowed the knapper to produce a wide range of LCT blanks that were suitable in terms of both morphology and size.

Figure 3
Gonen Sharon described in detail the production of large flakes and characterized in total seven modes of LCT production: bifacial, sliced slab, cobble-opening flake ( éclat entame), Kombewa, Victoria West, Tabelbala-Tachenghit, and Levallois (Sharon 2007, 2009). Some modes of the Giant Core technique were fixed in time and place, such as the Victoria West or Tabelbala-Tachenghit technique in South and North Africa, respectively. Anyhow, I wonder, why Shanon did not take large discoid techniques into account.

Others are ubiquitous like the Levallois technique. All of these have in common that the production of a more or less standardized and often predetermined flake was the main objective.

About the "sliced slab technique", which was used in the production of the artifact shown in this post ,Shanon (2009; Figure 2b) wrote:

In this study, the term “sliced-slab cores” groups together cores that were made from large, flat slabs of raw material by a slicing method that resembles the slicing of a wedge of cheese. Note that the flake shown here at least a third generation flake.

Another example of the end product of the “sliced-slab cores” method from the Acheulian of South Africa has already shown here- 2224 ; (Figure 4 in the post)

All giant core methods indicate advanced cognitive planning. This started with the selection of the appropriate forms and characteristics of the raw material, which allowed the application of a particular technique mentioned above. It continued in the skilled and hierarchically organized execution of the corresponding preparation blows to end in the shaping of the desired final product (simple or retouched flake, cleaver, pick, biface).

Surf the Blog About the very different Variants of Giant Core Technology -see here: 2017 , here: 2016 , here: 2257 , here: 2187 , here: 1003 , and here 1715

Provenience: Diaz Alvarez Collection / Spain and J. Meller Collection / Germany