The Middle European Micoquian

This bifacial scraper (“Blattschaber”), displays the characteristis of the Middle European Micoquien,and was found together with other artifacts during the 1960ies at Kleinheppach in Baden Würtenberg.

The Micoquian ensembles in Middle and East Europe are characterised by a wide spectrum  of bifacially-worked tools, namely by different forms of assymetrical handaxes, backed knives (Keilmesser), flat bifaces (Faustkeilblätter), small pointed bifaces (Fäustel), half-Bifaces (Halbkeile), bifacial scrapers and leaf-points.

The term “Micoquian” was originally coined by O. Hauser, who thought ,that the industry of the upper layers at La Micoque, was an indipendent stage between Mousterien and Aurignacian.

In 1924 Kozlowski described the findings of a middle paleolithic bifacial ensemble at Okkienik near Krakow as “Micoquien culture”. In  the 1950ies,  Zotz gave an systematic overview about the Micoquian in Middle Europe, still worth reading. He already used the term “Micoquian” largely in its present meaning.

In 1967 Bosinski systematized these earlier approaches and introduced the concept of a “Middle European Micoquian” as a well defined period in time and space into the international discussion. Shortly after the publication of Bosinskis work, Chmielewski wrote an important overview of the Polish industries with asymmetrical bifaces, not included in Bosinskis thesis, which he called “Micoquo-Prondnikien”.

During the 1990ies a new generation of archaeologists in Middle Europe renamed the Micoquian into “Keilmessergruppen” (KMG) to avoid confusion with the French “Micoquien”  at the still undated layer N at the type-site.

In Europe first typical “Keilmesser” can be found at Mesvin IV (Belgium; U/Th dates: 250-300 k.a). The site Pietraszyn 49 in Upper Silesia, dated by TL at 130±10 ka, allready shows he whole spectrum of bifacially retouched Micoquien tools.

Many sites assigned to the Micoquian in middle Europe seem to be from the early last glacial (OIS 5 c and a; Ciemna, Zwolen, Okkienik, Wylotne, lower levels at Balve, Buhlen) and from OIS3 (Kůlna 7a, Lichtenberg, Salzgitter Lebenstedt and the G-layers of the Sesselfelsgrotte), while no Micoquien settlements in Middle Europe are known during OIS4.

The Micoquian can be found beginning with OIS 5e along the rivers of the large East European Plain: Ripiceni Izvor III and Korolevo IIa at the river Pruth;, Zotomir and Rhikta (Dnieper), Chotylevo (Desna), Antonowka, Nosovo (Don) Sukhaya Mechetka (Volga). Numerous sites are known from the Krim (Ak-Kaya; Zaskalnaya, Prolom, Sary-Kaya, Volchy Grot, Kabazi I und V).

In Northern France, several ensembles, who have many affinities to the Middle European Micoquian have been described after the reception of Bosinskis work during the last years: Mont de Beuvry and Tréissény (Bretagne), Champlost and Germolles in the Bourgogne, Saint-Acheul and Gentelles at the Somme, Riencourt les Bapaume near Callais and Verriers and  Vinneuf near Paris. It has also been noted that many ensembles from the Normandy and Bretagne with small Handaxes resemble in part the middle European Micoquian.

Some researchers suggest that the KMG display a long-lasting tradition of Homo Neanderthaliensis beginning in OIS 6 or even earlier, which lasts until the late OIS3.

Others claim, that the bifaciallity of implements is mainly the result of functional factors like the duration of stay, the field of activity at the site, and the mobility of the groups which used bifacial artefacts both as finished tools and high-quality cores.

Anyhow the Micoquian can be seen as an early marker of cultural identity of Homo Neanderthaliensis during the last glacial, somewhat different from the patchy archaeological  record during earlier periods.

Some Micoquian Implements near Kassel (at the “Hessisches Landesmuseum” in Kassel)

Suggested reading:


About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome! About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University. Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.
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6 Responses to The Middle European Micoquian

  1. Pingback: What Are Those Darned Neanderthals Up to Now?

  2. Ber (Hubert) says:

    Well taken! May I add Catherine Farizy’s seminal article of 1995: Industries Charentiennes à influences micoquiennes, l’exemple de l’Est de la France, in Les Industries à Pointes Foliacées d’Europe Centrale Paléo Supplément 1. Liége: Université de Liège, 173-178 (downloadable thru Persee)? And her pupil Jean Marc Gouedo’s excellent but hard to obtain fat Lille University PhD on the same subject?

    The term Charentien a influences micoquiennes betrays the terminological problems. The term “Micoquien” has a very complicated (French, Polish, German) history, touched upon in the above blog (and cf Gouedo as well as publications by Olaf Joeris, Gaelle Rosendahl).

    In eastern France the boundaries between “Mousterien” and “Micoquien”(/Keilmessergruppen) are very unclear. There is much in the Vienne, Charente and Aquitaine area too that would immediately be called Micoquien/KMG if found in Germany. But most Fench archaeologists won’t have that. It would be time for someone to tackle that problem.

  3. Katzman says:

    Do you have access to Marc Gouedo’s thesis? I would be very interested. In my view a new synthesis is necessary for the bifacial Middle Paleolithic industries of Europe…..

  4. ber says:

    there’s no commercial edition, which is a shame, but it is available through

    highly recommended, also for its abundant illustrations and as a (late 1990s) synthesis of a huge amount of relevant sites and materials; a tribute to the late Catherine Farizy …

    schoene Gruesse – Ber

    Thèse de doctorat de GOUEDO Jean-Marc

  5. Katzman says:

    Thanks a lot!

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