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2023-01-13 08:42:05   •   ID: 2364

The Origins of Levallois-Core Technology

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows a large Levallois Core (Diameter: 10.5 cm) from „Scorbé-Clairvaux" near Chatelerault (France).

Figure 2 displays a unipolar preferential Levallois core with a already detached target flake from central France.

Figure 3 illustrates two centripetal Levallois cores from the rich Middle Paleolithic of the Gargano region.

It is well known that Levallois cores differ from Discoid cores mainly by their hierarchisation of the volume.

The Levallois flakes may have, among other things, the advantage of a more predictable and predeterminated shape, although whether or not this was really intended by the knappes is still open to discussion and probably will remain open.

Figure 2 and 3
In any case, I can't think of any experimental setup, or retrospective evaluation of operational chains, that would prove one or the other....

Another important key advantage offered by Levallois Technology in comparison with Discoid techniques in general is the production of large thin elongate flakes. About the principle of elongated tools- see: 1622

As earlier described- see here: 1613 the oldest indications for a fully fledged Levallois technology so far were found in South Africa (Wonderwerk Cave MU4 , Kathu Pan 1). However, there are several doubts regarding the stratigraphic integrity at both sites.

Much more reliable are data from Kapthurin in the Rift Valley of east Africa, published in 2022. Here, large flake blank handaxes and cleavers were produced through Levallois knapping by the use of symmetrical centripetal core-preparation. The Acheulean Levallois technique is distinguished from MSA Levallois by the lack of recurrent flaking (Shipton et al. 2022).

In the East African MSA, tools are characterized by points with unifacial and bifacial retouch on non-Levallois and Levallois blanks, partially made from Nubian cores. This is the case at Gademotta (ETH-72-8B before 276±4 k.a BP; ETH-72-6 after 183±10 k.a BP) and at Kulkuletti (200–300 k.a BP) (Douze 2007).

In the Levant first "proto-Levallois" cores have been identified in the late Acheulian / Acheulean at about 400-200 k.a.. Levallois elements became common in “Tabun D-ensembles , which appear after 250 k.a BP in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and the El Kowm region in Syria (Shea 2003, 2017, 2020).

Figure 4 and 5
The oldest MSA settlements in northeastern Africa are the “larged-sized MSA” unit from Dakhleh Oasis and the “lower Levallois” site from Kharga Oasis Locus IV, which are dated around 200 k.a. (Kleindienst et al. 2008).

The same may hold true for the sites of Bir Sahara East and Bir Tarfawi (Wendorf, Schild, and Close 1993); however, OSL dating results for Kharga point to a considerable younger age.

Recently Jebel Irhoud in Morocco was dated by several lines of evidence to 315 k.a. The rich site is characterized by Levallois and non-levallois debitage and by the occurrence of an early ("archaic" ) H. Sapiens (Richter et al. 2017).

The Levallois technology in W- Europe seems to be present as early as MIS 10 at Mesvin IV in Belgium and appeared at several sites during early OIS 8 (Orgnac 3, Baume Bonne, Bankers Hole, Crayford).

How should we imagine the development of Levallois Technology?

Some researchers have shown that bifaces were regularly used to produce flakes during the Middle Pleistocene. Figure 4 and 5 show a "Handaxe-Core" (dorsal and ventral view) from St. Meme in the Charente.

Another example is from Angers in France and was already shown here: 2359 .

Other scholars emphasize the possibility of an evolution from discoid cores to Levallois cores. In this case, the hierarchization of the volume could have been initially accidental, and the advantages for the knapper were evident.

Figure 6
Probably both possibilities should be considered to be equally likely. And, of course, one must assume multiple events and multiple regions of origin.

Finally, I show in Figure 6 several Discoid and Levallois cores from S/W France, simply because the image fits the theme so nicely.

Surf the Blog About Levallois in the old world -see here: 1156 , here: 1185 , here: 1564 , and here: 2257