Backed knife percentage
Figure 6.4 Frequencies of backed knives recorded in southwestern French MTA industries, compared with those recorded in other industrial variants. All industries with backed-knife frequencies higher than 4 percent are attributed by Bordes to the MTA variant.
Backed knife percentage axes (in both northern as well as the southwestern French sites) and may rank as much as a type fossil of the MTA variant as the more widely recognized hand-axe types (Fig. 6.4).
How far similar type-fossil forms can be recognized in some other Mousterian variants is more debatable. Bordes argued (1953a: 461; 1961b: 805; 1968a: 101; 1981: 78) that at least two highly distinctive forms are associated closely with industries of the combined Charentian (i.e. Quina 4- Ferrassie) group -notably, large, bifacially worked tranchoirs,
Figure 6.5 Large, bifacially-worked 'tranchoirs' typical of the Quina-Mousterian assemblages in southwestern France, from the sites of Mont gaudier (no. 1) and La Quina (no. 2). After Debénath 1974; Bordes 1961a.
shaped by a distinctive 'plano-convex7 retouch which extends over a large part of the ventral face of the tools (Figs 6.5, 6.6) and thick, symmetrical, double-pointed limace forms (Fig. 6.7) (see also Turq et al. 1990: 62-3). Outside France similar type-fossil forms are now recognized as characteristic of several other regional variants of the Mous-
terian, including the typical flake cleavers which characterize the 'Vasconian7 industries of the Pyrenees and Cantabria (Fig. 4.28), the 'Micoquian7 hand axes and related leaf-point forms of the central European industries (Figs 6.8, 6.9) and various tanged and stemmed points of the North African Aterian (Bordes 1968a, 1981, 1984; Klein 1989a; Clark
1992). As Bordes pointed out (1977: 39; Bordes & de Sonneville-Bordes 1970: 61 etc.), there is no reason to think that specific type-fossil forms should be any less characteristic of particular industrial variants within the French Mousterian complex than they are in some of the widely recognized regional variants of the Middle Palaeolithic.
2. Qualitative variations in tool morphology. The notion that certain more qualitative variations in tool morphology may be characteristic of specific industrial variants of the French Mousterian was frequently emphasized in Bordes' publications. He argued this most emphatically in relation to distinctive 'Quina-type' retouch applied to edges of side
Figure 6.7 Double-pointed 'limace' forms from Quina and Ferrassie Mousterian assemblages.
scrapers, points and related forms (Fig. 6.10), which he felt was characteristic (at least in quantitatively significant proportions (Fig. 6.11) of industries belonging to the Quina and Ferrassie groups (e.g. 1961b, 1977, 1981). How far this can be attributed simply to the intensive, repeated resharpening of the tools
(along the lines suggested by Dibble, Rolland and others) is still an open question. As discussed in Chapter 4, similar types of retouch are equally well represented in certain assemblages where the abundance of local raw materials provides a powerful argument against intensive tool reduction
Figure 6.10 Plan and edge views ofracloirs showing characteristically stepped, overlapping 'Quina-type' retouch.
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