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2022-04-03 18:00:09   •   ID: 2319

A possible Acheulian Handaxe from Höxter / Weserbergland

Figure1: Weserbergland ; Wikimedia Commons; A. Hindermith
Figure 2
This post may be of interest only for local Collectors of Paleolithic tools and certainly bears no groundbreaking new informations for the professional Archaeologist.

Recent observations on Pleistocene stratigraphies (Markkleeberg, Hundisburg, Leine Valley) have shown, that finds in the area of today's Germany, which deserve the designation of a genuin Acheulian must be dated later than previously thought.

German Bifaces occur mostly in the context of the last glacial KMG-complex, and therefore even individual findings, whith characteristics of a Late Acheulian deserve more attention than before.

The "Epi-Acheulian" sensu Tuffreau at Markkleeberg is the largest ensemble in Germany found so far. Here, the Paleolithic archeological horizons may date to MIS 7 and 6. The same holds true to a similar Ensemble at Hundisburg- see 1605

Figure 1 shows a panoramic view of the Weserbergland today near Bodenwerder.

The natural region of East Westphalia-Lippe comprises the Weserbergland as its core area, followed by the Westphalian Bay west of the Teutoburg Forest and the North German Plain north of the Wiehengebirge.

Today, Höxter is a medium-sized town with just under 30000 inhabitants in North Rhine-Westphalia and the district capital of the Höxter district. The city is located on the Weser River in the South of the hilly „Weserbergland“ region.

Figure 3
Historically of major interest is the Corvey Monastery, located on the banks of the Weser River, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2014 and is worth any visit.

The former Benedictine abbey was founded in 822, approved by the successor and son of Charlemagne. It was once one of the most important monasteries in Europe.

In the river valleys of the Weser and Leine, which represent important communication routes from south to north since prehistoric times, about 250 difficult-to-date Acheulian and Middle European Micoquian bifaces have been recovered so far (Bánffy 2018).

The patinated Chert Handaxe of this Post (Figure 2-5; 13,5x7,2x2,7 cm) with a classic Acheulian Design is one of them and was found years ago in the Weser Gravels at Höxter and is not the only Paleolithic artifact from the Weser Region in this Blog - see a Flint- Biface from Hann. Münden; 50 km South of Höxter- here: 1053 .

The biface has a Plano-Convex appearance, with remnants of the original cortex on its ventral side.

It clearly appears older than the regional handaxe finds, which are nowadays assigned to the KMG-Complex from MIS 5 and 3 and has more similarity with the handaxe from Bad Salzuflen described by J. Richter, foundabout 60 km N/W of Höxter - as a single find without any geological context.

R. Richter's sophisticated analysis of this artifact, which is at the same time a short introduction into the analysis of stone tools in general, indicates an age up to 300 k.a. BP - see: Handaxe from Salzuflen

Figure 4
Because the Höxter Region and the whole southern Weserbergland remained ice-freee during the extensive Drenthe glaciation of the Saale Complex about 160 k.a. BP, the implement possibly remained without major postdepositional damage.

However, we have to keep in mind that until the last glacial, the strongly relieved landscape of the Weserbergland, was altered by soil erosion and solifluction, which may have led to the destruction of many sites and to the burial of others under colluvium.

Among Paleolithic implements, handaxes stand out as the best known and most easily recognizable artifacts form for laymen. Thus, most of the 20 handaxes from the 14 sites in East Westphalia were picked up by chance and as a rule they are single finds. (Baales et al. 2018); (my own translation).

Turning further South, The so-called "Lower Hessian Depression" - (the “Niederhessische Senke”) in the Schwalm region about 50-100 km south of Höxter is one of the few areas in Germany, east of the Rhine, that have yielded a larger number of morphological Acheulian bifaces. However, these artifacts were mostly made from local quartzite- see: 1360

Geographically the Niederhessische Senke provides not only access to the Weser and to the North German / European Plain but also connectes Northern Hessen with what is now Thuringia with the classic Bilzingsleben and Weimar sites and regions further east around Leipzig.

Figure 5
Except from the Buhlen site, the Hessian Palaeolithic has been collected mainly from surface scatters and can only be roughly divided into a younger series from the last interglacial / glacial cycle and older finds so far - see here: 1624 , here: 1712 , here: 2027 , and here: 1625 . The older series have a clear Acheulian design and are most probably older than the last Interglacial.

This raises the question of the chronological background of hand axe production in today's Germany, which is not assigned to the "Middle European Micoquian" and therefore older than MIS 5.

Suggested Reading:

E. Bánffy: Spuren des Menschen; 2019

Fritz Bertram Jünemann: Paläolithische Artefakte auf Äckern mit Trümmerstreuung von Braunkohlenquarzit im Oberweserbergland südlich des Sollings, 134 - 146, in: Frühe Menschheit und Umwelt, Teil I. Fundamenta, Reihe A, Band 2, Köln  und Wien 1970 

G. Bosinski: mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa, 1967

A. Luttropp and G. Bosinski: Reuthersruh; 1971

K. Günther: Balver Höhle; 1964

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

M.D. Schön and  I.  Schweitzer:  Paläolithische   Funde   aus der   Gemarkung    Scheden,   Kr.   Göttingen. Göttinger Jahrbuch 1978

K.N. Jacob-Friesen: Die Altsteinzeitfunde aus dem Leinetal bei Hannover; 1949

M. Zedelius-Sanders: Die paläolithischen Funde aus dem Leinetal bei Jeinsen, Stadt Pattensen, Land- kreis Hannover; 1974

K.Hermann Jacob, C. Gäbert: Die altsteinzeitliche Fundstelle Markkleeberg bei Leipzig. Leipzig 1914. (Veröffentlichungen des Städtischen Museums für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig, H. 5)

Rudolf Grahmann: The lower palaeolithic Site of Markkleeberg and other comparable locatilies near Leipzig. In: Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. N. S. Vol. 45, S. 6. Philadelphia 1955, S. 509–687.

W. Baumann, D. Mania: Die paläolithischen Neufunde von Markkleeberg bei Leipzig. Berlin 1983. (Veröffentlichungen des Landesmuseums für Vorgeschichte Dresden, Bd. 16)

J. Schäfer,et al: Bericht zu den Ausgrabungen am altsteinzeitlichen Fundplatz Markkleeberg 1999 bis 2001. In: Arbeits- und Forschungsberichte zur sächsischen Bodendenkmalpflege. 45, 2003, S. 13–47.