During the last 30 years it became clear, that the production and use of blades in West and Middle Europe started during the late lower Paleolithic (OIS 8/7) and became more common during the Middle Paleolithic of W-Europe. There are at least 30 stratified sites with contextual information exhibiting a significant amount of blades. The use of blades is therefore not as “revolutionary” and surely not confined to Homo sapiens, as once thought.
Some of these lithic assemblages are characterized by Levallois blades only and some assemblages are characterized selectively by prismatic blades. However, the use of a “Levallois-blade” or “prismatic-blade” concept is not necessarily exclusive. There are also assemblages with both Levallois and prismatic blades. Blade production within the middle Paleolithic can be combined with any other mode of tool manufacture: biface production, “Micoquian” tool production, Quina-production, Levallois-flake-production etc. Both systems can be even performed on a single core or the core configurations change during the operational sequence. Many prismatic cores were flaked by the (semi-) rotating” reduction strategy. Usually, prismatic core reduction was initiated by the removal of a natural ridge or a crested blade. Most prismatic cores show two opposed striking platforms. Levallois blade cores are usually recurrent and allow bipolar reduction of blanks.
The archeological record shows that both strategies for the production of blades were common during the European Middle Paleolithic and that both strategies were part of the Neanderthal repertoire. The archeological data do not allow deciding, if the knowledge of Blade production was transmitted from one generation to the next and / or if these technologies were invented and reinvented from time to time. Examples of blade production from Salzgitter-Lebenstedt (ca. 50 k.a. BP; “Micoquian”) clearly show that the technological knowledge of blade reduction already existed, but did not play a major role within the assemblages. A possible explanation could be a low residential mobility of Neanderthals and / or a disinterest in blades.
Blades were probably aimed at specific tasks under specific environmental conditions. The use of prismatic-blades may be related to the non-availability of good-quality raw materials, that are one precondition for the use of the Levallois-technology.