Middle Paleolithic Convergent Scraper

This is a large scraper from a Non-Levallois blank with convergent ends and side retouches. It was found in the Department of Seine Maritime and is dated between 300 and 50 thousand years BP.

Convergent scrapers provide a good example how Archeologists make statments about the cognitive and social organisation of their Paleolithic makers by the interpretation of lithic data-sets. During this interprative process few observers could fail to be struck by the high level of symmetry and refinement exhibited by classic convergent scrapers from classical sites like High Lodge (OIS13), La Quina (OIS4/3), La Ferrassie) (OIS4/3). Intuitively, it seems inconceivable that these implements, some of which have remarkably elaborated points like classic handaxes are not deliberately designed tool forms made according to fixed mental templates. However, analysis of the High-Lodge material recently showed that pointed scraper forms may emerge at almost any stage of the reduction process simply as a consequence of two opposed retouched edges fortuitously converging to form an elongated projection. Thus High Lodge is not only an European key site in showing us, that typology is unreliable for assessing chronological questions but also important in demonstrating that different scraper classes do not represent discrete clusters of artifacts, but form a continuum.

 “Convergent scrapers, therefore, whilst appearing distinctive, can be interpreted parsimoniously, not as purposefully fashioned tools but rather the unintended outcome of progressive resharpening, and thereby lengthening, of different edges on scrapers until they invariably meet at a point. This is not to imply that convergent scrapers should be seen as a direct corollary of handaxes in terms of the manufacture or use of these objects However, as intensively retouched tools with pointed and handaxe-like plan outlines they provide an effective illustration of how highly patterned and apparently designed forms can result from “mindless” reduction processes” (Brumm and McLaren; JHE 2011).

Does this mean that our ancestors were unable to perform conscious and planned tasks? I think –No — It just means that they had developed a certain routine of resharpening opposed edges on scrapers until, invariably, two straight margins converge to form a point. The description of such routine actions is not very helpful in the definition of mental capabilities of these early humans (possible H. Heidelbergensis). Of course no one would try to define the mental capabilities of H. sapies by the banal routine actions of our every days life.

Suggested Reading:

http://www.oldstoneage.com/pubs/HLD/scrapred1.pdf

http://uow.academia.edu/AdamBrumm

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