Levallois Blade Core

Levallois Blade Core (a field finding from Meyrals, a wonderful small town between Sarlat and Les Eyzies, in the Dordogne)

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.

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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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4 Responses to Levallois Blade Core

  1. Filmy Online says:

    Superb blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed in this article? I’d really like to be a part of community where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Kudos!

  2. Katzman says:

    Thats really a problem. I do not know any forum with sufficiently high standards in the discussion. Some years ago the “Palanth Forum” was such a place, where you could discuss your ideas with other people that were interested in that paleo-thing-but it is closed now (http://www.palanth.com/legacy/index.php)….

  3. Jim Morehead says:

    Interesting post. I had known in a general way that there were Levallois blades (in fact, I was searching on that term when I found this post. However, I’d not realized that they antedate the late Middle Paleolithic and would not have even speculated that they were before 100 ka or MIS 5e at the earliest (obviously not an Old World prehistorian). Blade/bladelet use is rather episodic in the southeast US: late Paleoindian and Early Archaic, then a ~5000 yr lacuna, Late Archaic, Hopewellian (sensu lato) and Mississippian. However, “quasi-Levallois” discoidal cores, based on smallish gravels (3-6 cm) were in use the entire time (circa ~11 ka to 1ka) in the area I’m most familiar with, which is near the center of the Texas-Louisiana border. Would Levallois (as a set of practices for producing flake blanks) ever die out so long as there were/are humans chipping stone tools? It just seems too useful.

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