Eastern Micoquian

G. Capelle Haute 58

La Rochette 77

C. Capelle Bas 62

C. Capelle Haute 58

Le Moustier G 93

Le Moustier Upper shelter 34

Fontmaure 50

La Micoque 51

C. Capelle Bas 62

La Chaise 24

La Micoque 51

La Micoque 51

<1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 <1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 <1.8 1.8 2.1 2.4 2.7 3.0 3.3 3.6

hzO dJ

Fontmaure 50

Le Tillet 20

Length/breadth ratio Figure 4.23

Breadth / thickness ratio

Figure 4.24

Figure 4.23 Length-over-breadth ratios of bifaces recorded for various MTA industries from southwestern French sites, compared with those for the earlier 'Acheulian industries from La Micoque and La Chaise. The graph shows that elongated, pointed hand-axe forms are effectively lacking from the MTA industries. From Mellars 1967.

Figure 4.24 Breadth-over-thickness ratios of bifaces recorded for various MTA industries in southwestern France, compared with those for the 'Micoquian assemblage from La Micoque, and the northern French site of Le Tillet ('café au lait' series). The clearly bimodal distribution apparent in most of the graphs almost certainly reflects the manufacture of bifaces from two different forms of blanks - nodules on the one hand, as opposed to large flakes on the other. The bifaces from the northern French site ofLe Tillet would appear to be manufactured entirely from large flakes, while those from La Micoque were presumably manufactured from nodules. From Mellars 1967.

The classic hand-axe forms encountered within the last-glacial industries of western Europe conform largely to the broad grouping of 'cordiform' types (Fig. 4.22) - and in this form are generally regarded as the diagnostic hallmarks of the MTA variant (Peyr-ony 1920, 1930; Bordes 1953a, 1984 etc.). The relative uniformity and standardization of these tools in a morphological sense has been emphasized in many earlier studies (e.g.

McBurney 1950; Bordes 1961a: Fig. 7; Mellars 1967). The distinctively broad, squat forms of the tools can be differentiated quite easily from the more elongated Acheulian or Micoquian hand axes on the basis of simple length-over-breadth measurements alone (Fig. 4.23). The precise forms of the tools show rather more variation. While the term cordiform or heart-shaped defines the central shape tendency of the majority of the tools (Fig. 4.22),

Figure 4.25 Sharply triangular hand-axe forms, recorded from various surface contexts in western France. After Bordes 1961a, Turq 1992b.

individual hand axes can vary from almost oval, or sometimes nearly circular, to more sharply angular outlines, including distinctive triangular (Fig. 4.25) and so-called bout-

coupe (Fig. 4.26) forms (Bordes 1961a; Shack-ley 1977; Roe 1981). As Bordes frequently emphasized (e.g. 1954a: 441, 1961a: 78; 1984) the latter are particularly characteristic of

Figure 4.26 So-called 'bout-coupe' hand-axe forms, from sites in southern England. Nos 1, 4 from Little Cressingham (Norfolk); no. 2 from Bournemouth (Hampshire); no. 3 from St Neots (Cambridgeshire). After Lawson 1978, Coulson 1986, Paterson & Tebbutt 1947.

some of the earlier MTA industries from the loess regions of northern France (see also Tuffreau 1971). It can be seen from both visual inspection of partially retouched pieces and simple measurements of breadth-over-thickness ratios (Fig. 4.24) that the tools could be made from either complete nodules of raw material or from large flakes (Mellars

1967). The sizes are similarly variable and may range from up to 20 cm in length to very much smaller forms less than 5 cm in length. To judge by the available stratigraphie data there seems to be a general tendency for the overall sizes of the hand axes to decrease continuously throughout the chronological development of the MTA industries within

Figure 4.27 Bifacial leaf points from the later Mousterian levels of the Mauern cave (southern Germany). No. 2 shows typically 'plano-convex' patterns of retouch, marked by the initial detachment of very broad flake removals from the lower face, followed by the finer trimming of the upper, more convex face. After Böhmers 1951.

Figure 4.27 Bifacial leaf points from the later Mousterian levels of the Mauern cave (southern Germany). No. 2 shows typically 'plano-convex' patterns of retouch, marked by the initial detachment of very broad flake removals from the lower face, followed by the finer trimming of the upper, more convex face. After Böhmers 1951.

western France (Mellars 1965, 1967). Regardless of all variations in shape and size there can be no serious doubt as to the highly distinctive character of these cordiform hand-axe types within the French industries nor to their close association with industries of the classic MTA group. As Bordes often stressed (e.g. 1961b, 1968a; Bordes & de Son-neville-Bordes 1970) typical examples of cordiform hand axes are effectively lacking from all other distinctive industrial variants of the Mousterian (Quina, Ferrassie, Denticulate etc.) within southwestern French sites.

Other forms of fully bifacial tools are not nearly as well represented within the industrial sequence in western Europe. The broad category of bifacial leaf points is one of the distinctive hallmarks of some later Mousterian industries of central and eastern Europe (Figs 4.27, 6.9) and is as yet virtually unknown in the extreme western zones of Europe (Bordes 1968a, 1984). Leaving aside one or two very rare, isolated and generally atypical occurrences (for example the single pieces illustrated by Bordes (1954-55: Figs 14, 17; 1961a: Fig. 49) from Pech de l'Aze site I and Fontmaure) the most typical specimens of characteristic leaf points recorded from the French sites seem to be those described by de Lumley from the later Rissian levels at the Baume Bonne cave in Provence (de Lumley 1969c: 258-61). Whatever the particular origins and functions of these tools, they would seem to have little in common with the much more widespread and characteristic forms of cordiform hand-axes documented within the classic MTA industries of western Europe.

A final distinctive, if rather enigmatic, form is the so-called 'Vasconian' flake-cleaver (Fig. 4.28) recorded from a range of sites in the Pyrenees and the adjacent Can-tabrian region of northwest Spain (Abri Olha, Castillo, Cueva Morin etc.: Bordes 1953a, 1984: 166, 206-9; Cabrera Valdes 1988). Although sometimes linked with broadly cordiform hand-axe forms, these tools stand as a separate morphological and technical

Figure 4.28 Flake-cleaver forms manufactured from large flakes of quartzite or similar rocks from the so-called 'Vasconiarí Mousterian levels of El Castillo, Cantabria. After Bordes 1961a.

group. As the name suggests, the tools consist of large flakes in which the retouching is confined largely to the lateral margins on either one or both faces, and in which the presumed working edge is formed by one of the original sharp and unretouched edges of the parent flake (Fig. 4.28) (Bordes 1961a: Figs 75-6, 82, 1984: 206-9). Most of these tools were manufactured from large side-struck flakes apparently produced selectively from some of the local fine-grained rocks such as ophite or quartzite (Cabrera

Figure 4.29 Chopper/chopping-tool forms. After Bordes 1961a.

Valdes 1988). Only in a few rare instances (as at Abri Olha) are these forms apparently associated with typical cordiform hand axes (Bordes 1953a, 1984: 166).

How far the various forms of so-called choppers or chopping-tools should be included within the general grouping of bifacial tools is more open to debate (Fig. 4.29). The distinguishing feature of the great majority of these tools is that they are manufactured predominantly from rounded pebbles of various coarsely textured rocks (usually quartz or quartzite, very rarely from flint) on which the flaking is confined entirely to one end of the parent pebbles to define a rather jagged and irregular cutting edge

(Bordes 1961a). In many cases there is a real problem in deciding whether these forms represent intentional tools or whether they are simply discarded, partially worked cores. In certain contexts, however, these pieces do show a degree of regularity and systematiza-tion in the flaking which leaves little doubt that they were intended as deliberate tool forms (e.g. Figs 7.30, 7.31). Within the French industries these forms are best represented in some of the MTA industries (as at Fonseigner and Les Ourteix: Geneste 1985) and in some of the open-air occurrences of taxonomically Denticulate industries at sites such as Mau-ran, Coudoulous and La Borde (Figs 7.30, 7.31) (Jaubert 1984,1990; Girard et al 1975).


Following this discussion of the various retouched tool forms encountered in Middle Palaeolithic industries, what kinds of general patterns can be discerned? What is the inherent character of this morphological variation in Middle Palaeolithic tools, and what does it tell us about the broader behavioural and conceptual patterns which lay behind tool production?

The first point now effectively established is that there are indeed several categories of retouched tool forms in Middle Palaeolithic contexts which almost certainly existed as distinct concepts in the minds of the groups who produced them. The overall range of these discrete forms is very much smaller than that represented in Upper Palaeolithic industries (Mellars 1989b) and almost certainly much smaller than that implied in the classic typology of François Bordes. Nevertheless, the basic range discussed in the preceding sections represents the irreducible minimum of morphologically and apparently conceptually discrete tool forms which must be recognized to account for the total documented variation within Middle Palaeolithic tools.

Many other related issues such as the effect of repeated resharpening on the overall forms of retouched tools and the specific functions of different types remain more enigmatic and require fuller investigation than they have received so far. Whatever weight one may attach to the tool-reduction models of Dibble and Rolland these can only account at best for a very limited component of the total documented variations discussed above. The question of purely functional determination of tool forms presents a wider range of interpretative issues which will be pursued in Chapter 10. The only point which can be made with any confidence at present is that the functions of many of the apparently discrete and morphologically separate forms seem to have overlapped in a complex and poorly defined way. Certainly no simple one-to-one correlations between form and function have been revealed by recent applications of micro wear analyses (e.g. Beyries 1987,1988a; Anderson-Gerfaud 1990).

How these different morphological types were visualized by the Middle Palaeolithic flint workers poses equally intriguing questions. The various attributes which define and characterize the different types make up a complex combination of both 'technical7 features (i.e. relating to the basic flaking techniques and procedures of production) and more specifically morphological features, (i.e. relating to the particular location, form and character of the retouch applied at different points around the edges of the tools). All the basic distinctions between, e.g. racloirs, points, denticulates, backed knives etc. are defined essentially in these simple 'morpho-technical' terms. Leaving aside the specific functional interpretations of these different forms the central question is whether we can identify any other significant component of conceptual patterning in the production of Middle Palaeolithic tool forms which goes beyond this simple combination of technical and morphological features.

As I have discussed (e.g. Mellars 1989a,b, 1991) one of the central issues is whether the production of Middle Palaeolithic tools involved any explicit component of 'imposed form' of the kind which can be documented for many if not the majority of Upper Palaeolithic tools. The notion of imposed form resides essentially in the idea that a deliberate attempt was made to influence and control the overall shapes of the retouched tools which went beyond their immediate functional requirements. Typically, this involves large-scale reduction of the original flakes in a way which influences not only the active working edges of the finished tools but also their appearance (Fig. 4.30) and ensures the production to relatively distinctive and morphologically standardized forms.

For the majority of retouched tool forms in

Neanderthal Backed Knife

Figure 4.30 Comparison of 'backed-knife' forms in early Upper Palaeolithic and Mousterian industries. In the case of both Chatelperron points (upper two rows) and Uluzzian crescents (middle row) it can be seen that much of the original flake blank has been chipped away to produce a relatively high degree of standardization and 'imposed form . In the case of the MP A backed knives (bottom row) it is apparent that even where these tools are manufactured from blades, the retouch usually adheres closely to the original outlines of the blade, and has little effect on the overall form of the tool (see also Fig. 4.19). After Mellars 1989a, Bordes 1961a.

Middle Palaeolithic industries it can be argued that this kind of imposed form is largely, and in many cases conspicuously, lacking. The various kinds of retouch seem to have been designed to enhance the functional aspect of the tools, usually by shaping and controlling their main working edges (for example racloirs, notches, denticulates etc.) or in other cases (as in typical backed knives) by improving the capacities of the tools either to be held comfortably in the hand or attached to wooden hafts. But beyond this attention to the immediate edges there is little indication that the flint workers went to any great lengths to control the overall, visual form.

One of the clearest illustrations of this contrast can be seen by comparing the forms and strategies of production of the various Mous-terian backed-knife forms (Fig. 4.19) with those of the broadly analogous blunted-back forms encountered in early Upper Palaeolithic industries - for example in the French Chatelperronian or in the roughly contemporaneous Uluzzian industries of Italy (Fig. 4.30) (Mellars 1989b: 344-8). In the Mous-terian backed-knife group the flint worker often invested much effort in blunting the dorsal edges of the flakes, but this retouch is usually restricted to the immediate edges of the flakes and rarely involved the extensive removal or reduction of large areas of the original flake surface (Monnier 1992). The combination of this strategy with the use of a range of different blank forms for tool production leads to the highly diverse appearance of the tools shown in Fig. 4.19. Whatever criteria are employed, the tools could hardly be said to reflect a great degree of either imposed form or standardization in their finished forms.

The contrast with the early Upper Palaeolithic forms is immediately apparent from examples of both Chatelperron points and Uluzzian crescents illustrated in Fig. 4.30. In both, the overall forms of the different tools show a relatively standardized appearance which in most cases was the result of large-scale reduction of the original flake blanks to achieve these repeated and tightly controlled forms. That this standardization is not due simply to the use of more uniform blades rather than flake blanks for Upper Palaeolithic tools is demonstrated by the fact that the majority of the Uluzzian tools are manufactured from flakes rather than blades (Goia 1990).

Similar observations can be applied to the majority of the other retouched tool forms encountered in Middle Palaeolithic industries, including racloirs and even more obviously to the morphologically simpler notched and denticulated forms (see for example Dibble 1989) (Figs 4.1, 4.2, 4.18). Focusing exclusively on these major categories of flake tools, one could maintain that imposed form was effectively lacking within the documented repertoire of Middle Palaeolithic tool forms.

The obvious exceptions to this generalization are provided by some forms of fully bifacial tools discussed in the immediately preceding section - most notably some of the more distinctive forms of hand axes recorded in the French MTA industries and bifacial leaf points which characterize the later Mous-terian industries of central and eastern Europe. Imposed form in the production of hand axes and leaf points is effectively inherent in the definition of these tools, and is apparent in the specimens illustrated in Figs 4.21, 4.22, 4.25, 4.26 and 4.27. As discussed earlier, the morphology of these tools is characterized by three major features: first, by a high degree of bilateral symmetry in the overall shapes and patterns of retouch; second, by the standardized appearance of the majority of the tools, reflected in the distinctively cordiform shapes of most of the MTA hand axes (Fig. 4.22), or the laurel-leaf forms of the majority of leaf points (Fig. 4.27); and third, by the existence of certain forms which show highly idiosyncratic outlines (such as the sharply triangular form of some of the earlier MTA hand axes or the even more distinctive bout-coupé forms: Figs 4.25, 4.26) which were evidently imposed on the tools in a deliberate, repeated and premeditated way (Bordes 1961a, 1984). Whatever emphasis one may place on some of the inherent technological constraints involved in the manufacture (such as particular varieties of raw materials or the use of specific flaking strategies: cf. Dibble 1989) it is impossible to see this as more than a limited and partial factor involved in the overall form of the finished tools (Wynn & Tierson 1990). Certainly, no appeal to raw material constraints can explain why the specific shapes of hand axes encountered in the French MTA industries are so strikingly and consistently different from those encountered in the earlier Acheulian or Micoquian industries from the same regions (Figs 4.21, 4.23: e.g. Bordes 1971a, 1984; Wynn & Tierson 1990). However the data are interpreted, the specific shapes of these fully bifacial tools points to the existence of clear morphological norms or conceptual templates in the minds of the individuals who manufactured them (see Chapter 12).

Whether an element of imposed form can be identified in any other varieties of Middle Palaeolithic tools remains debatable. It could be argued that some of the more extensively worked examples of points or convergent racloirs exhibit an overall regularity and symmetry in outline which hints at the existence of preconceived intentionality in the overall shapes of the finished tools (see Figs 4.13, 4.14). However, it is difficult to evaluate whether this was dictated by an a priori conceptual interest in the shapes or by the underlying functional requirements of tools intended specifically for hafting either as double-edged knife forms or spear tips (see above and Beyries 1988a,b; Anderson-Ger-faud 1990; Callow 1986a). Similar ambiguities surround some other distinctive forms encountered in certain Middle Palaeolithic industries including, for example, some of the regular and symmetrical limace forms documented in many of the Quina and Fer-rassie-type assemblages (Fig. 6.7).

The specific morphology and relative degree of standardization of Middle Palaeolithic tool forms require more specific and detailed documentation. After almost a century of research, methodological approaches to the morphology, technology and indeed intended functions of Middle Palaeolithic tools remain at a surprisingly rudimentary level. From present data it is evident that the overall morphological patterning of Middle Palaeolithic tool forms is much simpler than that documented in Upper Palaeolithic industries, and shows much less explicit patterning at different times and places throughout the Middle Palaeolithic universe (Mellars 1973, 1989a,b). As discussed in Chapter 12 these contrasts must have some clear implications for both the basic conceptual patterning which lay behind tool production and the degree to which this may reflect significant social, demographic or cultural divisions within Middle Palaeolithic populations. However, the systematic study of this patterning is still at an early stage and this is one of the areas where more sharply oriented and structured research is urgently required.

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