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2022-04-18 07:44:35   •   ID: 2323

A Middle Paleolithic Bifacial KMG-like Scraper from Baiersdorf

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This is a 13 cm long flat bifacial object, coming from and made from Baiersdorf Tabular Chert.

Baiersdorf is a large deposit for Plattenhornstein (Tabular Chert, "crusted hornstone") in the catchment area of the Altmühl valley (Bavaria). The Sesselfelsgrotte, with its famous Middle Paleolithic finds is only 4 kilometers away.

The typical Baiersdorf plates show two clearly different cortex states: One surface is almost smooth (Figure 1) and "soft" to the touch, the other is rough (Figure 2), which can be explained by the geological genesis of such plates. The colour of Baiersdorf chert typically varies between light gray to brownish gray or grayish brown.

This Raw material has already introduced earlier in the Blog- see 1376 . It is found in tablets with a thickness of up to a few centimetres, but most typically the plates used in prehistory are about 1 cm thick.

Indeed, the artifact shown here has some similarities with an already published scraper according to the Typological approach by F.Bordes, exhibiting a “Retouche écailleuse scalariforme” from the Charentian Stratum P of the Sesselfelsgrotte shown here: Scraper Altmühl-Valley

In principle, the artifact from a Central European context could be addressed as an atypical "Keilmesser"- at least conceptually: While one side is characterized by a repeatedly reworked bifacial cutting edge, the opposite edge is the result of a deliberate breakage leading to a „back“. It is clearly not a broken / damaged tool.

The use of tabular chert in South Germany during the Middle Paleolithic was rather rare, probably because during the Last Glacial, the deposits were inaccessible over several times.

However, it is relatively well represented in the G-strata complex of the Sesselfelsgrotte (Richter 1995) and in the Middle Paleolithic of the nearby Schullerloch, which has excavated long time ago and therefore any contextual informations about its mighty stratigraphy are lost for ever (Beck 2006). Bifacial KMG-like Scrapers and Keilmesser, similar to the artefact of this post are known from Schambach, most probably from MIS3 (Rieder 2016). Some isolated tools from tabular chert are also known from the Blattspitzen Kultur at the important Weinberghöhlen- see: 1157

"Keilberg-Kirche"(Regensburg) is an early Aurignacian, where Tabular Chert was used as raw material, among others (Uthmeier 1994).

Its use in the Altmühl Region and around Regensburg became more popular since the Gravettian. The whole Gravettian of the Sesselfelsgrotte was characterized by the working of tabular Jurassic chert (Weißmuller 1995). Tabular Chert was also an important component of the Gravettian at Salching, (Lkr. Straubing-Bogen).

Tabular Chert from different sources was even more intensively processed during the Neolithic, where it was sometimes mined in large quantities.

In particular the banded Tabular Chert "Type Abensberg-Arnhofen", which I already mentioned: see- 1285 was of large importance until the beginning of the Bronze Age and exported over larger distances, within a radius up to 300 km.

It achieved its highest popularity and distribution during the late Neolithic, around the middle of the 4th millennium cal. BC, and fulfilled exactly the requirements for the serial production of bifacial sickles (Elburg and Paul van der Kroft; 2022).

Tabular Chert can be very easily fractured. The thicker tablets are somewhat coarser and produce quite straight fractures, as demonstrated in the case shown in this post. Preparation of the broken edges is hardly necessary.

The retouches are easy to produce and due to their conchoidal character comparable to homogeneous flint of best quality

The Middle Paleolithic "end products", of South/West Germany, such as Keilmesser, Faustkeilblätter and flat Handaxes, are virtually preformed by their platelike character of the raw material, an observation that was already made during the 1950ies by Bohmers and Zotz.

Throughout the Paleolithic, we observe the phenomenon of a conscious selection of raw material that already had the shape of the deliberately produced stone tool 1460 and 2064 .

The use of Tabular Chert is not limited to the region discussed here. A good example from the Late Neolithic / Bronze Age of the Levant can be found here: 1645 ; (Zutovski 2016).

These posts clearly demonstrate the principle of selecting specially shaped geofacts for the production of specific artifacts, already fully developed already in the Early Paleolithic.

However, this principle is not a "conditio sine qua non". Even raw materials that initially appear completely inappropriate, can be shaped into the desired design using the Faconnage technique.

Homo sp. had already liberated himself from some natural preconditions - this was unquestionably a step that makes us human.

Suggested Readings:

Freund G: Sesselfelsgrotte I. Grabungsverlauf und Stratigraphie (1998)

K.H. Rieder: Der Hohle Stein bei Schambach - Neandertaler und Eiszeitjäger in der Altmühlalb; 2016

Weissmüller W: Sesselfelsgrotte II. Die Silexartefakte der Unteren Schichten der Sesselfelsgrotte. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des Moustérien (1995)

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

B. Cep: Das mittelpaläolithische Silexinventar des Bocksteins im Lonetal (Schwäbische Alb). Vielfalt der Formen oder Fortbestand einer technologischen Idee?; 1994