Handaxe from the Leine Valley (Hannover Döhren)

This is a  handaxe (10×7,5×2,3 cm) from the gravels at Hannover / Döhren found in the 1930ies.

Findings from unknown age were once used to construct a late Acheulian in N-Germany. In reality these ensemble are mixed and certainly contain artifacts from several entities including from the “Keilmessergruppe” (Middle European Micoquian) and Biache- like ensembles.

During the beginning of OIS8 at about 300 k.a. BP, hand axe bearing industries appear in Central Europe which contain numerous Levallois forms (such as cores, flakes, blades and points). The operational sequences at these sites resemble other Levallois based ensembles without handaxes in Nothern France (Biache at 175 k.a.), the Netherlands (Maastricht-Belvedere at 250 k.a. BP) and in the German Lowlands further south (Rheindalen; IOS7), although this has not proven in detail till now. It is hotly debated if the “Paleolithic Microlithic Tradition” at sites such as Vertesszölös, Schöningen and Bilzingsleben is older (IOS 11) or contemporaneous.

Two sites, known since the early 20th century and re-excavated later are of major interest, because they are securely dated: Hundisburg near Neuhaldensleben, northwest of Magdeburg, and Markkleeberg near Leipzig. Both sites are geologically assigned to early OIS8. Handaxes are rare (90 examples out of 10000 artifacts at Markleeberg; 2 handaxes /270 artifacts at Hundisburg) and a sophisticated Levallois technology is present. Renewed excavations at Hundisburg since 2005 recovered mostly sharp edged artifacts combined with the remains of large mammals and rich microfauna, while such contextual information is not available for Markkleeberg.

Other findings most probably from the time period between OIS8 – OIS5 are only indirectly dated. The most important sites in Germany are situated in Leine gravels around Hannover (Döhren, Rethen, Arnum and Henningen), from other sites in the Leine valley near Alfeld, from the Weser valley, from the Pleisse gravels near Leipzig (Cröbern, Zehmen, Eythra, Cospuden, Zwochau ), Gravels near Magdeburg (Magdeburg-Rothensee, Magdeburg-Neustadt, Gerwitsch) and from the Maas region at Rhenen (NL), while the handaxe ensembles from the Emscher and Ruhr valleys may have been produced after OIS5e. Unfortunately the extraordinary rich findings in Northern Hessen, were essentially all found on the surface without any stratigraphically or contextual information just indicating that our ancestors were there using purposefully the high quality quartzite resources of the region.

Quaternary Stratigraphy:


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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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