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2020-02-10 13:54:29   •   ID: 2150

The Proto-Aurignacian: an independent Technocomplex ?

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows long and straight Dufour bladelets from S/W-France, which are suggested to characterize the Proto-Aurignacian (Aurignacian 0).

Figure 2 displays several Carinated Pieces from the Vezere Valley (Abri Cellier) for the production of twisted Lamelles, typical for an early Classic Aurignacian.

The Proto-Aurignacian on the one hand and the early Aurignacian on the other hand are said to reflect two different techno-typological entities and reflect two different routes of dispersal of Homo sapiens into Europe.

While the Proto-Aurignacian spread via the Near East to Europe via a Mediterranian route, the Classic Early Aurignacian is suggested to have entered Europe via the Danube corridor.

The Protoaurignacian technological signature is said to lie in the production of blades and bladelets within a single and continuous stone knapping sequence. Both products are thus obtained from the same core as the result of its progressive reduction.

The Aurignacian on the other hand shows a dissociated productions, that means that two independent chaînes opératoires to produce blades and bladelets. The bladelets were detached from carinated cores.

Figure 2
Wherever found, we observe a diachronic pattern, with Proto-Aurignacian (Aurignacian 0) assemblages preceding Early Aurignacian (Aurignacian 1) occupations. Both technocomplexes precede the Heinrich-4 Event.

But is this paradigma correct?- I was always confused about the "Proto-Aurignacian" at Fumane and Abri Mochi (Balzi Rossi), where Carinated pieces were incorporated into the Proto-Aurignacian strata. A secondary mixing or an Archaeological reality?

Yvonne Tafelmaier, in her thesis has published detailled data about the topic.

"A study of Aurignacian 0 and 1 lithic assemblages from Labeko Koba (layers VII, VI, and V), Ekain layer IXb (both Basque Country / Spain), and Arbreda H (Catalonia / Spain) with special focus on laminar blank production has been conducted.

In addition to the empiric data secondary data on Proto-and early Aurignacian assemblage variability have been acquired. Significant overlaps with regard to technological as well as typological aspects became apparent. Both the typological (Laplace 1966) as well as the technological definition (Teyssandier et al. 2010) proved to be insufficient to clearly differentiate the two "entities".

Numerous assemblages exist that yield characteristics of both phases. Therefore a cultural interpretation featuring different technological traditions is rejected (Teyssandier 2006). In contrast, it is proposed to consider Aurignacian 0 and 1 occupations as more complex adaptive manifestations drawing upon a common technological Repertoire

Therefore it seems reasonable to conclude that both entities were the emanation of one larger technocomplex that spread over Europe at ca 40 k.a. BP.

Suggested Reading:

Tafelmaier, Yvonne: Technological variability at the beginning of the Aurignacian in Northern Spain Implications for the Proto- and Early Aurignacian distinction / Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal-Museums ; 9 - 2017

Surf the Blog: 1142 , here 1719 , here: 1483 , here: 1454 , here: 1717 , and here 1600

Resources and images in full resolution:

2020-01-31 18:39:36   •   ID: 2149

Early Upper Paleolithic at Kebara Cave (Israel)

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Kebara cave, located on the western escarpment of Mt Carmel, was one of the first sites on the levantine coast that was excavated in the last century. First digs in 1932 by Turville-Petre were followed by the more methodological work of Stekelis (1951– 1965) and finally by meticulous excavations of Bar-Yosef after 1982. 

At Kebara (Kabara) a rich late Levantine Mousterien is followed by upper Paleolithic layers (Ahmarian and Levantine Aurignacian), Kebaran and Natufian.

The artifacts shown here are typical pointed blades are most probably from the early Ahmarian Units (Early Upper Paleolithic). Similar specimens are known from  Quafzeh Cave (Niveau E) and further north from Ksar Akil (Phase B; 20-15; Lebanon) and Üçağızlı Cave (Turkey).

Excavations at Kebara in the 1990s identified an early Upper Paleolithic occupation, originally dated between 41 and 35,6 k.a. BP. Recent redating of this component suggests that the IUP occupation likely dates between 45 and 46 k.a.  BP (47-49 cal. BP), reducing the gap between the Middle Paleolithic (60 and 48 BP) and Upper Paleolithic occupations of Kebara cave to just nil.

If the appearance of the IUP is interpreted as an argument for a population exchange in the Levant, these data could indicate the the movement of AMHs into the Levant. One the other side the Late Levallois-Mousterian at the site and at other localities in the Levant may have enough technological variability to ensvisage a stepwise evolution from a flexible Levallois-Technique to a Volumetric approach with the aim to produce elongated and pointed blades (Meignen and Bar -Yosef 2019)

The Ahmarian is the oldest fully Upper Paleolithic entity in the Levant and may be older than the European Upper Paleolithic. Anyhow, this chronology has been heavily questioned by results of refined C-14 dating and calibration from some key sequences around the Mediterranean since 2014. These discussions are still going on.

Suggested reading:

Ofer Bar-Yosef and Liliane Meignen: Kebara Cave, Mt. Carmel, Israel, Part I The Middle and Upper Paleolithic Archaeology 2008

Ofer Bar-Yosef and Liliane Meignen: Cave, Mt. Carmel, Israel, Part II The Middle and Upper Paleolithic Archaeology 2019

Surf the Blog: here 1125 , here 1150 , here: 1142 and here 1646

Resources and images in full resolution:

2020-01-30 11:53:16   •   ID: 2148

Along the Upper Rhone Valley: Mousterian from Perreux

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These are three convergent scrapers (maximum length: 6 cm) from Perreux made from local flint. The first scraper was created by a Levallois apporoach, the second and third by a non-Levallois (most probably discoid) technique.

They are very similar to artifacts from the near La Champ Grand site and the Carriere Chaumette, already mentioned in this blog- see here 1455 , and here: 1649

The artifacts have strong have affinities to the "Charentien rhodanien", better known from the Middle Rhône Valley and its tributaries (Gard, Gardon, Ardèche), dated to MIS 4 and 3 and already described by earlier contributions in this Blog.

Resources and images in full resolution:

2020-01-23 15:26:08   •   ID: 2147

Black Middle Palaeolithic Flint Handaxe

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This is a black elongated Handaxe from NRW, found in 1944 near Essen. It has some affinities to Iate Acheulian Bifaces from the Seine Valley and to the so called unifacial „Herne-Spitzen“ (see below).

Since 1911, middle Paleolithic clusters were detected in the southern Munster embayment and the Ruhr region in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

They usually were incorporated in river sediments, the so called “Knochen- Kiese”, part of the lower river terraces of Emscher, Lippe and Ems and their tributaries. These sediments are currently dated to MIS4 and exhibit numerous faunal remains of the mammoth steppe.

Here, I will only mention a limited number of key-sites

Herne: During construction work for the Rhein-Herne Chanel, E. Kahrs found over a limited area of ca 5 square meters an ensemble , made from dark / black Flint: a elongated / lanceolate Handaxe 11 cm long, two unique triangular Levallois flakes covered with unifacial retouch on their dorsal side (called by Bosinski: „Herner Spitzen“), one triangular, non backed bifacial scraper together with small cordiform handaxes and some unifacial Levallois tools.

For me it remains a mystery why this small ensemble is designated as KMG/Micoquian by several authors. Not a single diagnostic KMG- tool is present....

A gravel pit at Warendorf-Neuwarendorf on the other hand, showed a clearly Micoquian / KMG Character of ca 50 artifacts, again associated with the Knochenkies-horizon. The findings were made in association with the remains of a Neanderthal (a right os parietale). A C-14 date of 31 k.a. seems to be not reliable.

Other KMG ensembles associated with the Knochenkiese are for example : Bottrop, Greven-Bockholt, and Wadersloh.

Please note that most strata from the Balver Höhle- the corner stone of Middle Paleolithic stratigraphy in NRW, revealed a rich Micoquian followed by a Levallois-Moustierian.

The Feldhofer Grotte in the Neanderthal-the find-spot of Fulroths Neanderthal-also showed a rich Micoquian ensemble. It seems that the KMG-groups were fairly widespread in NRW.

For me, the most fascinating ensembles in NRW are characterized by relatively small Cordiform and sub-triangular Handaxes-the most prominent ensembles come from Haltern and Ternsche.

Some Haltern find-spots also revealed bifacial scrapers and a lot of Levallois material. As surface findings from a former military training area, the assemblages may be heavily mixed.

Anyhow it remains remarkable to find such Handaxes in only 150 Km distance from the next MTA at Sainte-Walburge, Liège, Belgium.

Suggested Reading:

Bosinski, G. Die mittelpaläolithischen Funde im westlichen Mitteleuropa. Fundamenta A/4. Köln & Graz. (1967)

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

Günther, K. Die altsteinzeitlichen Funde der Balver Höhle. Bodenaltertümer Westfalens 8. Münster. (1964)

Baales M : Westfalen in der Alt- und Mittelsteinzeit (2014)

Gripp, K, Schwabedissen H, Schütrumpf R: Frühe Menschheit und Umwelt. Teil I, Archäologische Beiträge. Fundamenta - Monographien zur Urgeschichte Reihe A Band 2 (1970)

Do you remember? Today we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz!

But– Who did not learn from History will do it again.....

Resources and images in full resolution:

2020-01-20 09:01:30   •   ID: 2146

150 years of research at Solutré

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This is a 17 cm long Leafpoint from Solutré, near Mâcon (Saône et Loire)- see also here: 1042 , here 1144 , here: 1475 and here: 1231 .

The basal tip is broken during prehistoric times and although the tool is very thin (3-4 mm), the final execution was rather careless performed, without pressure flaking. The patina is typical for the site.

If the point was created by the façonnage technique remains unclear. It could have been made by a long blade also- a technique known from a limited examples from the Solutrean.

Anyhow our point clearly resembles larger lanceolate examples from the site

Europe, between ca. 22 kyr and 20 kyr cal BP, saw the developement of new specialized tool-kits maybe as an adaption to harsh enviromental condition during the LGM.

In the S/W these tools are characterized by a variety of diagnostic projectile points and knives with bifacial retouch designated as Solutrean.

Straus (2005) proposed that Solutrean populations employed more specialized subsistence systems, relative to earlier Upper Paleolithic technocomplexes, to exploit regions rich in game but under harsh climatic conditions.

Figure 2
In the S/E of Europe, hunter-gatherers of the LGM created a technocomplex, called Epigravettian, characterized by shouldered and backed projectile points produced by unifacial retouch, while bifacial elements are rare in these ensembles.

In France, the Solutrean was restricted to climatically favored landscapes like the Aquitaine, the Charente, and the Pointu.

Sites North of the Loire are small isolated geographical pockets like the Grotte Rochefort (Saint-Pierre-sur-Erve, Mayenne, France) and Solutré.

Near the Type-Site, at Volgu, there is only one isolated Solutrean cache known. It consists of at least 15 bifacial Leafpoints found in the late 19th century in Saône-et-Loire near the confluence of the Arroux and Loire Rivers, about 60km west of Solutré.

The Volgu cache may symbolically mark the border of the habitable world during this extraordinary harsh and cold times.

The site of Solutré, near Mâcon (Saône et Loire), was discovered in 1866 and has been excavated over a period of more than 130 years.

The most important excavations were conducted by by Henry de Ferry, Adrien Arcelin and the Abbé Antoine Ducrost (until 1907). Important work, especially about the stratigraphy was performed by Abbé Breuil and F. Arcelin, the son of A. Arcelin (1922 à 1928. Important work continued under the supervision of J. Combier since the 80ies.

Figure 3
The Upper Pasleolithic deposits were found over an area of 2,5 ha. It was during the Magdalenian that it showed the greatest extension, in particular to the north-west and south-east of Crot du Charnier, linked to butchering and butchery activities. Scattered artifacts in the landscape, without any indications for habitation structures speak for repeated short time hunting activities during the middle and upper Magdalenian.

The Solutrean strata, represented a more permanent base camp with habitation structures, traces of fire and the evidence of artisanal and artistic activities. The two habitation structures were located in the southeast corner of Crot du Charnier and in the central sector of Terre-Sève, favored by the slightly inclined terrain.

Unfortunately much of the early excavated and rich the Material was dispersed to at least 7 larger institutions in France, GB and the US. Many artifacts are still in private collections.

The Solutrean is characterized by laurel-leaf points (pointes de Laurier), much of them rather small (median length about 5 cm). Broken and intact large points, like the one shown here, up to 19 cm long, remain the highlights of Museum-collections.

Some of the large points are designated as "grand couteaux a bord paralelles", very similar to the example shown here. Some large points may be preforms, well known from Perigordian sites, and others may have served as knifes (Combier 2016).

We find some tanged pieces and asymmetrical points type Montaud. Broken examples were re-used as endscrapers and becs. There are no Points a face plane or late Solutrean shouldered points.The ensemble entierly belongs to a Middle Solutrean. Figure 4 shows Solutré today after the last excavations (Courteously by Thilo Parg)

Figure 4
During the Solutrean, Solutré was not a simple temporary hunting place, as it was the case at Solutré at other times.

Isolated in the East of France at the outmost margins of the Solutrean world, people at Solutré probability arriving from the West, have survived under hardest climatic stress and successfully practiced high efficiency selective reindeer hunting. Faunal analysis showed that hunting occurred during the winter months and again during Spring (April / May).

Suggested Reading:

Solutré : Jean Combier (Ed). Volume du 150e anniversaire; 2016.

Le Solutréen 40 ans après Smith’66. Tours : Fédération pour l'édition de la Revue archéologique du Centre de la France, 2013. 480 p. (Supplément à la Revue archéologique du centre de la France, 47)

2020-01-15 14:52:43   •   ID: 2145

A Taxonomic Crisis in Prehistoric Research?

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Figure 1 and 2: "Acheulean Biface" from the Bergerac area in the Dordogne (ventral and dorsal view). Figure 3 and 4: "Acheulean Biface" from Saint-Même-les-Carrières in the Charente (ventral and dorsal view). Figure 5: "Mousterian Scraper" from the Station Amont de La Quina (Charente).

The designation of stone tools as Handaxes and Scrapers goes back to the 19th century and remained part of a "common speech" among specialists in Paleolithic Archeology. Anyhow there are a lot of inconsistencies in the nomenclature: see for example here 2125 .

Further examples for techno-typological taxonomic pitfalls can be found here: 2143 , here 2135 , and here: 1159 .

Figure 2
Sink Taxonomic Entities ? The well known dilemma about labeling Middle Paleolithic stone tool industries was recently reiterated by S. Shea. Later he generalized his critique to the question if we should not abandon any systematization.

Shea argued that:“ Labeling an assemblage "Mousterian", tells one little about its antiquity. Mousterian occurrences are spread out over all of Europe, western Asia, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and North Africa between 30-200 k.a.

It tells one nothing about the palaeoenvironmental context in which the assemblage was deposited. Mousterian assemblages occur in deserts, grasslands, temperate woodlands, boreal forests, and alpine steppe. Classifying an assemblage as Mousterian does not help one pin down the biological identity of its authors. We currently lack any method deduced from contrasts in hominin fossil morphology for differentiating Mousterian tools made by Neanderthals from ones made by H. sapiens or other hominins

Undoubtedly Shea is right, but doesn't he expect too much from a simple classification? His questions could only be answered by an ideal Paleolithic Pompei and not by the scattered Archeological record known at the moment.
Figure 3

Natasha Reynolds and Felix Riede discussed similar reservations about the taxonomic status of European Upper Paleolithic industries more carefully without iconoclastic attitudes (2019).

The basis of Archaeology, and indeed every science remains the classification of Objects. Classification is the operation of distributing objects into classes or groups which are, in general, less numerous than them.

Classification has a long history that has developed during several periods: (a) Antiquity, where its lineaments may be found in the writings of Plato and Aristotles; (b) The Age of Enlightenment with natural scientists from Linnaeus to Lavoisier; (c) The 19th century, with the growth of chemistry, Sociology and evolutionary theory; and (4) the 20th century, with the arrival of mathematical models and computer science.

Figure 4
The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus is regarded as the founder of the current system of taxonomy, as he developed a system known as Linnaean taxonomy for categorizing organisms and binomial nomenclature for naming organisms.

With the advent of such fields of study as phylogenetics, cladistics, and systematics, the Linnaean system has progressed to a system of modern biological classification based on the evolutionary relationships between organisms, both living and extinct.

Classifying artifacts from remote times can be done in a number of ways:

  • Morphologically: For example the class of Handaxes can be clearly defined by its 3-dimensional morphologies and the same holds true for the class of scrapers- examples are displayed in this post
  • Functionally: For example Projectiles, Cutting tools, scraping tools...
  • every conceivable form of classification

The Taxonomic Crisis is not the crisis of using classification systems per se, but a crisis of not unified classificatory systems and a crisis of biased data, published according the regional research traditions.

A unified nomenclature, the spirit of primary data-sharing for meta-analysis is already common in many disciplines since years (including my own discipline: Medicine) and is the prerequisite of handling Big-data. Handling Archeological data in this way will result in a better Archaeology.

Other issues are equally important but subordinated. Importantly the reconstruction of the past will only be valid if these "secondary" issues are resolved.

  • The construction of Entities coupled with strong either inductive or deductive middle-ranged theories
  • the involvement of other disciplines like Cultural Anthropology, Genetics, Linguistics, and Sociology
  • Interdisciplinary building up new syntheses has to be done very careful and is a late process during analytical work.

    Importantly we should avoid any apodictic attitudes, such as Gordon Willey's and Philip Phillips (1958) stance that “archaeology is anthropology or it is nothing,”

2020-01-13 11:42:01   •   ID: 2143

Micoquian Bifacial Point from the Dnjestr Valley

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Figure 3

This is a thick, 7cm long, bifacial non Levallois Point from the Dnjestr Valley, found within a surface scatter together with other artifacts, made from high quality flint, compatible to the definition of an Eastern Micoquian-see here: 2135

Such uni- or bifacial thick points are different from the Central/West European Micoquian ensembles, but sometimes resemble the "Faustkeilblätter" described by Bosinski and others. Anyhow, Middle European Faustkeilblätter tend to be more asymmetrical and flat.

They have no affinities to genuine Mousterian Points.

The Late Middle Paleolithic of the East European Plain and the Crimea shows a rather high degree of variability oscillating between Levallois- Mousterian and Micoquian ensembles.

Levallois-Mousterian sites are reported for Transcarpathia, the Dnjestr area, Polessye, the Dnieper area, Donbass, and Crimea.

Bifacial industries, most common in Crimea, are also known, but apparently rarer in other regions.

The use of the term: "Keilmessergruppen" seems not to be an adequate designation for bifacial ensembles, because typical Keilmesser, according the Central European nomenclature are rare over the east European plain.

There little comparative work, that takes into account the Bifacial inventories of Central Europe and the cis- and trans-Carpartian areas- but please note that newest publications just have started to do this on a high scientific level:

During the Late Middle Paleolithic, the most densely occupied areas seemed to be the Dnjestr Valley region and the Crimea; the latter additionally saw the most continuous occupation from MIS5- late MIS3.

Bifacial points, like the one shown here can be found especially at Kiik-Koba (Crimean Peninsula), at Prolom I and Prolom II (Krimean Penisula).

2019-12-19 17:09:08   •   ID: 2141

Lower Paleolithic from Valley of Miñor (Val Miñor), Galicia, Spain

Figure 1
This is an impressive heavy (2,6 kg) Quartzite"Chopper / Core" (ca 16 cm diameter) from Val Miñor, found during the 1950ies by the Writer and Archaeologist Pedro Diaz Alvarez, together with other Chopper / Chopping tools and simple flakes. Pedro Diaz Alvarez mainly worked in Galicia during the 1950ies.

Figure 2
At his time "archaic tools" in the North-West of the Iberian Peninsula came from open-air sites at the terraces of the Miño river, Val Miñor and in the littoral high terraces.

Nevertheless, records were not always homogeneous and did not came from stratigraphic context. Anyhow eminent reserchers such as Breuil were convinced, that these artifacts were from lower Pleistocene.

Wil Roebroeks and Thijs van Kolfschoten, during the 1990ies pleaded for a stringent and critical assessment of suggested early Pleistocene sites in Europe and concluded, that there was no evidence for a settlement of Europe by Humans prior to 500 k.a.

Figure 3
During the coming decades, this paradigm faded away, mainly because in South Europe (Italia, Iberian Peninsula) in-situ ensembles with Early to Early Middle Pleistocene Archaeological materials were detected.

One of the most important Early Paleolithic ensembles in central Span are documented at Sima del Elefante-one of the archaeo-palaeontological sites of Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain).

Figure 4
The importance of the Atapuerca complex in the context of the Early and Middle Pleistocene human occupation of Europe can hardly be overestimated.

The lower levels of at Sima del Elefante (Units TE-TE14) are an essential reference for understanding the early stages of the colonization of Europe. The TE9c level has provided stone tools (Mode 1), faunal remains, and human fossils dated to 1, 22 Ma.

Levels TD6 in the Gran Dolina cave at Atapuerca, on the other hand, represent a remarkable intense occupation, with features of a base camp, including human remains of "H. antecessor" dated dated by biostratigraphy, paleomagnetism and ESR to an age of 0,8-0,9 Ma.

Figure 5
In Fuente Nueva 3 and Barranco León 5 (Granada) faunal remains and lithic Mode-1 artifacts with a chronology of 1,3 million were subsequently described.

It is probable, that the relationship between the Early and Middle Pleistocene human settlements was discontinous with marked technological and behavioral differences.

Until recently, we did not know even a single in-situ early Pleistocene or even early middle Pleistocene site in N/W- Spain, but fortunately intensive field work that has been performed during the last 15 years (see attached files) has changed the picture.

In Galicia, for example in the Monforte Basin Chopping Tools are mostly associated with Handaxes and the use of Quartzite is common. If Mode 1 artifacts are part of the initial settlement of N/W-Iberia or are simply part of an Acheulian remains unclear and the geological age is unclear- but new Methods (ESR / TL) may help to establish an absolute chronology.

New research took place at the Porto Maior site, located in the Miño River basin, about 50 km N/E of the find-spot of the artifact shown here. This location corresponds to a >6 m-thick fluvial terrace located 34 m above the current level of the Miño River.

Several strata ( PM 3-5) from the Middle Pleistocene, bearing Acheulian material were excavated. The most important stratum (PM4) gave abundant LCT material (the largest accumulation outside Africa).

The Bayesian model of ESR / TL data showed that the entire Porto Maior sedimentary sequence was deposited between 312.6 ± 32.6 k.a. and 18.8 ± 7.7 k.a., and that the in situ large cutting tool assemblage from level PM4 most likely accumulated during Marine Isotope Stage 7

In so far the Archaeological record in this region has changed since the seminal work of Pedro Diaz Alvarez. While the Acheulian seems to be relatively young in geological terms, absolute dates are still missing for Mode-1 artifacts.

If they belong to the Acheulian, they may be around 300 k.a. old. If they were part of an older occupation remains unknown at the moment. In this case they could be of Early Pleistoceine origin.

Importantly the artifact, shown in this post has no similarity to the local Holocene "Asturian" see here: 1309 , but resembles the heavy duty component of the Assemblages of the Middle and High Terraces of the Garonne and Tarn valley and last but not least the Pebble tools from Terra Amata (Nice; France).

2019-12-17 10:30:49   •   ID: 2140

Late Neolithic Knob- Hammer axe (Knaufhammeraxt)

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Figure 2
Figure 3

Figure 1-3: This is Hammer Axe from a middle to late European Neolithic context. It is an intact item made of amphibolite.

European Neolithic Knob-Hammer Axes show a vertical and horizontal Symmetry. The body of the axes is usually straight. The neck is cylindrical with a fully formed, clearly separated round knob (Figure 3).

The example, shown here has almost no use wear and the cutting edge seems to be too blunt for a practical use.

Therefore this axe may be part of a Funeral / Ritual context or a Prestige object. As a single surface find it may come from a disturbed grave.

In Central and North Europe such „ Knaufhämmeräxte“ are hallmarks of the middle to late Neolithic and were usually detected within a Michelsberg , TBK and Mondsee context.

They appear during a time interval between 4,4 and 2,8 k.a. BC. Some isolated findings are also known from Eastern Europe, but their dating and context remains unclear.

Suggested Reading:

Ulrike Weller: Äxte und Beile. Erkennen – Bestimmen – Beschreiben Hrsg. von der Landesstelle für die nichtstaatlichen Museen in Bayern, LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn, Archäologisches Museum Hamburg, Landesamt für Archäologie Sachsen. 2014

2019-12-14 07:13:06   •   ID: 2138

Federmesser: A continuous Background during the Allerød Oscillation

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These are delicate thin and microlithic backed tools from Federmesser scatters in the Haderslev and Hotrup region of Southern Denmark.

We notice straight, curved, lunate-like points and examples with a short tang. Backing may be classic "invasive" or more marginal with very fine continuous retouches.

The project of dating the relative age of Federmesser ensembles by seriation of their morphological composition was not very successful in Germany, with a high density of sites, and was therfore never undertaken for Scandinavia with comperable less stratified material.

The Federmesser technocomplex arrived in Denmark during the the Allerød Oscillation (12-10,8 k.a. cal BC) and is one of the most Northern manifestations of the process of the late Paleolithic “Azilianization”, which began in Southern Europe- further information can be found here: 1695 , here 1397 , here: 1690 , here: 1693 , and here: 1421

Federmesser ensembles follow the rare traces of late Hamburgian hunters in Denmark. Beside the diagnostic backed Points, small thumbnail scrapers made from flakes, blade-scrapers, and tanged scrapers (so-called Wehlen scrapers) characterize such assemblages.

C-14 calibrated AMS data show that the Federmesser complex precedes the Bromme complex in Southern Scandinavia, and that the transition from Federmesser to Bromme happened some time around 10.9 k.a. cal BC.

Despite many surface scatters, stratified Federmesser sites are rare in Denmark and and their relationship to the slightly later Bromme culture (see: 1010 ) remains unclear.

Riede recently reviewed the co-occurence of Arch-backed points, tanged scrapers and large tanged points at several sites.

Archaeological circumstances suggest, that these associations are not the result of secondary mixing and that functional requirements may have trigeredd the formations of such tool-kits:

"Widening the geographic perspective, this particular combination of tool types also occurs at many localities of the Feder- messer culture outside Denmark.

The majority of the sites at which the slender arch- backed points occur together with the bulkier large tanged points extend along the periphery of late Glacial human settlement, from England in the west to Poland and possibly as far as Lithuania, the Ukraine and Belarus in the east.

It is likely that such a co-occurrence reflects the parallel use of two distinct hunting weapons, the bow and arrow (tipped with arch-backed points) and the dart and spear thrower (tipped with large tanged points)
" (Riede 2011).

Suggested Reading:

E.M. Ikinger: Der endeiszeitliche Rückenspitzen-Kreis Mitteleuropas 1998

H Schwabedissen: Die Federmesser-Gruppen des nordwesteuropäischen Flachlandes 1954