A Quina scraper from the Somme

This is a flat cortical flake with “Quina” retouche coming from the Somme valley. Such tools in the North European Plain are rare. The artifact would much better fit into the Middle Paleolithic of the Aquitaine. We should ask for parallels in the archeological record of N/W-Europe:

OIS5a: The forests in Northern Europe at the Eemian climax (OIS 5a) seem to have been “green deserts” for human occupation (Gamble 1986), because they were less suitable places for food collecting and offered less possibilities for hunting compared with open landscapes. The archaeological record from OIS 5a in N-Europe is  limited. It is however possible, that river valleys were ecologically more diverse, thus rich in plant food and animal species.

OIS 5b-5d: In contrast, it seems that Paleolithic people preferred open, “mosaic” environments, which characterize the transitional periods between OIS6/5 or the landscapes after OIS 5a and before OIS4. In N/W-Europe, numerous sites have been excavated dating to OIS 5d-5b (e.g., Auteuil inf., Sains-en-Amiénois, Veldwezelt-Hezerwater – VBLB locus, Remicourt – En Bia Flo, Bettencourt N1, Auteuil sup.) . These ensembles seem to have several technological features in common:

First of all, most of these lithic assemblages were mainly characterised by the presence of “medium-sized” Levallois core reduction strategies. Secondly, several lithic assemblages also include an important number of blades , which were produced by either the Levallois and /or prismatic core reduction technique. (Rocourt Saint-Germain-des-Vaux, Riencourt-lès-Bapaume, Seclin – D7, Lailly, Vinneuf N1/N0 Molinons, Villeneuve l Tönchesberg 2B). Villeneuve is a special case, because it shows a combination of laminar techniques and a bifacial “Micoquian” component. Thirdly, the assemblages are usually small. Most formal tools were side-scrapers. Sometimes some cordiform or triangular bifaces were also present also ( part of the poorly dated “early Weichselian MTA” sites of Northern France).

OIS 4&3: During OIS 4/3 Middle Paleolithic assemblages are very rare in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands. One possible answer for this trend is that the erosional processes might have been too severe for a preservation of these sites, but it could be also possible, that the environment was too harsh for a repopulation of these regions.

Some open-air sites from this time interval in Northern France and  Belgium, were excavated during the last 2o years, are known. All these ensembles are dominated by a Levallois core reduction technique (Beauvais 1 & 2 [OIS4], Hermies A [OIS4], Corbehem [OIS4],  Veldwezelt-Hezerwater – TL).

In Northern Germany however, “Keilmesser-ensembles” are attested during early OIS3. At Lichtenberg (Lüchow-Dannenberg, Lower Saxonia, Germany) artifacts were characterised by the presence of side-scrapers, bifacial scrapers, hand-axes and “Keilmesser”. A non-Levallois technique used for the production of flakes. Another important site, Salzgitter-Lebenstedt (Lower Saxonia, Germany) was characterised both by rich lithic and faunal assemblages. The lithic ensemble shows opportunistic, laminar and Levallois core reduction. Again side scrapers, bifacial scrapers, hand-axes and “Keilmesser” were excavated. This site with its exceptional bone tools was allready described during an earlier post on “Aggsbach`s Paleolithic Blog”.

Where are the analogies for “our” Quina scraper in the North European Plain during the Paleolithic? Such scrapers were found within in the context of an Acheulian combined with non-Levallois flake tools at the “Atelier Commont” at the Saint Acheul type locality. The “Atelier Commont” overlies the Garenne Formation (OIS 12–11) at Saint-Acheul and may be dated to  be 200-300 k.a. BP.

On the other hand, Quina scrapers are not completely absent on open air sites during the middle Weichselian on the North European Plain. The open air site Veldwezelt-Hezerwater (Limburg, Belgium) shows two clusters of ensembles with Quina tools from the last Glaciation: The TL and the WFL locus are early Middle Weichselian sites, characterized by centripetal/Levallois and opportunistic core reduction techniques. The toolkit was mainly characterised by the presence of large Quina tools, witch are larger than the scraper presented here. The excavator of the site supposed that Quina tools in a Levallois system were reliable safeguards against the risk of tool breakage, a  “secret weapon” of  people,  living in hazardous environments.

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