Middle Paleolithic Points from France

 There are three established methods to look on an artifact:

  • The typological Method
  • The chaine operatoire Approach
  • Microwear analysis

A Mousterian point is typologically defined by a triangular flake with the presence of a retouch on one or two sides to form a point. The flake can be made by any technique (e.g. Levallois, Discoid, and Quina). The differentiation between a point and other convergent tools (convergent scraper, skewed scraper) remains arbitrary. The typological definition is independent of the function of the tool. The typologist would call all artifacts, displayed here, either Levallois-points or Mousterian-points .

 The Chaîne opératoire has been described as, “the different stages of tool production from the acquisition of raw material to the final abandonment of the desired and/or used objects. By reconstructing the operational sequence we reveal the choices made by … humans.” (Bar-Yosef et al. 1992). It is suggested, that lithic traditions can be better described by this method, than with any typological approach. Although the method offered many new insights during the last 30 years, there remain limitations of the specificity, reproducibility and quantification of the results. Eight from nine artifacts of this post are  made onLevallois-flakes, which indicates that they have to be younger than OIS8.

Microwear analysis began with the publication of Semenov’s Prehistoric Technology in 1964. Lithic microwear analysis involves the interpretation of visually / microscopically assessed phenomena in terms of formal analogies between experimental wear patterns of known origin and wear patterns in the archeological record. Although, the results of microwear analysis are sometimes subjectively biased, the reproducibility seems to be adequate in the estimation of tool function. The dorso-lateral macrofcracture on one of the Levallois points  may indicate its use for hunting.


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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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2 Responses to Middle Paleolithic Points from France

  1. i’ll say there is a “quite good” way to look at stone tools:

    A – Use the 3 approaches you describe, but not within the pure ortodoxy of each approach, but in a dinamic, complementary and toughful way.

    B – Complete those 3 approaches with 2 more:
    · lithic raw material (origin, captation, transport, properties related to knapping and use)
    · Study how the use is managed: re-sharpening, reclycling, discarding.
    C- Integrate the whole thing with the studies derived from other archaeological evidences, to understand the full picture about production, subsistence, land-use, etc.

  2. Katzman says:

    Thanks; I fully agree…

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