Blade technology

One of the most significant developments over the past few years has been the recognition that the repertoire of primary flaking techniques employed in the European Middle Palaeolithic involved not only the conventional forms of Levallois or non-Levallois flake production but a surprisingly strong component of deliberate and highly specialized blade production. This has been recognized for more than 40 years in the Middle Palaeolithic sequence of the Near East (notably in the various occurrences of the so-called 'pre-Aurignacian' or 'Amudian' industries: Rust 1950; Bordes 1955b; Garrod 1956; Jelinek 1990), but until recently remained less securely documented in the European industries. Hints of the existence of this technology had been available for some time in early discoveries at sites such as Crayford in England (Spurrell 1880; Cook 1986) and Coquelles in northern France (Lefebvre 1969;

Figure 3.17 Map of Middle Palaeolithic sites with heavily blade-dominated industries in northern Europe. The sites are as follows: 1 Seclin; 2 Riencourt-lès-Bapaume; 3 Rocourt; 4 Rheindalen; 5 Tonchesberg ; 6 Saint-Germain-des-Vaux; 7. Vallée de la Vanne; 8 St-Valéry-sur-Somme; 9 Coquelles; 10 Cray ford. After Ameloot-van der Heijden 1993b.

Figure 3.17 Map of Middle Palaeolithic sites with heavily blade-dominated industries in northern Europe. The sites are as follows: 1 Seclin; 2 Riencourt-lès-Bapaume; 3 Rocourt; 4 Rheindalen; 5 Tonchesberg ; 6 Saint-Germain-des-Vaux; 7. Vallée de la Vanne; 8 St-Valéry-sur-Somme; 9 Coquelles; 10 Cray ford. After Ameloot-van der Heijden 1993b.

Tuffreau 1971) but they remained poorly documented in the literature. Recent discoveries at sites such as Seclin, Port Racine, Saint-Valery-sur-Somme and Riencourt-les-Bapaume in France (Revillion 1989; de Hein-zelin & Haesaerts 1983; Tuffreau 1992, 1993), Rocourt in Belgium (Cahen 1984), Rheindalen and Tonchesberg in western Germany (Bosinski 1973) and Piekary in Poland (Mor-awski 1976) (see Fig. 3.17) have now confirmed not only the existence of these specialized blade-producing technologies at a surprisingly early date in the Middle Palaeolithic sequence but also the complexity and variety of the different flaking strategies involved (see Conard 1990).

A detailed review of these early blade technologies in western Europe has been pro vided by Eric Boeda (1988b) as part of his general analysis of Middle Palaeolithic flaking strategies. Despite the limited number of sites in which these techniques have been identified, Boeda suggests that they can be divided into three separate groups, each involving significantly different concepts in the basic approaches to core reduction and each leading to the production of recognizably different forms of cores and associated flaking debitage. In terms of his own definitions, two of these techniques can be regarded as essentially Levallois in a conceptual sense, whilst the third seems to be effectively identical in most respects to the techniques documented in the much later Upper Palaeolithic industries. Following his criteria, these can be summarized as follows:

Figure 3.18 Examples of cores used to produce 'Levallois blades' from sites in northern France. Nos 1-3 are based on the 'classic Levallois' technique of core preparation, while no. 4 conforms to Boeda's definition of the yspecialized Levallois' blade technique (see Fig. 3.19). After Bordes 1961a, Boeda 1988b.

Figure 3.18 Examples of cores used to produce 'Levallois blades' from sites in northern France. Nos 1-3 are based on the 'classic Levallois' technique of core preparation, while no. 4 conforms to Boeda's definition of the yspecialized Levallois' blade technique (see Fig. 3.19). After Bordes 1961a, Boeda 1988b.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment