Gravette from Aggsbach / Wachau

This is a small pointed blade (4,3 cm long) with bilaterally  abrupt retouches made of patinated hornfels or flint, It was found at   Aggsbach; Wachau, Lower Austria. Similar implements are known from the Aggsbach Gravettian B site.

The Aggsbach B site shows a very original Gravettian industry: Endscrapers, pointed blades and more than 440 Flechettes  were present. They show a considerable variability and are interpreted as projectiles. Although Flechettes are generally seen as indicative for an early Gravettian, the C-14 dates of the Aggsbach B site are relatively young (25,7-26,8 k.a. BP). The Aggsbach A site lithic inventory  (non dated yet) is characterized by curved Flechettes, pointed and foliated blades. It would be extremely interesting to start renewed excavations at this unique site!

The Danube, given the west-east orientation across the Central and Southeast Central Europe, unifies the mosaic of plains separated by highlands and mountainous chains. The middle Danube  flows from the west into the narrow Wachau Gate in Austria, and, after accepting two affluents from the north, the Morava (March) and Váh, it suddenly turns towards the south to cross the Hungarian Plain.

In the Wachau valley the most important sites are located between Willendorf and Krems in almost regular distances, starting with Willendorf (I-VII) followed to the east by Aggsbach (A/B), Spitz (Singerriedel and the Mieslingbach sites), Weissenkirchen and the Krems cluster (Hundssteig, Wachtberg), at the end of the Wachau Gate. Further west,at the Wagram, several small Gravettian ensembles (for example Gobelsburg with a single age about 30 k.a. BP!) have been detected.  The Dolní Vestonice-Pavlov cluster is situated about 90 km in the North and is connected to the Middle Danube via the March (Morava), where several Gravettian sites are known at Stillfried, Grub Kranawetberg and Ollersdorf / Heidenberg.

The lithics of the eastern Gravettian at the middle Danube and in Southern Moravia differ to some extend from the “classical” sites in the greater Aquitaine. The earliest Gravettian occupation is suggested to be  documented at Willendorf II, layer 5 (around 30 k.a. BP; Denekamp / Arcy; PK1; Stillfried B; Schwallenbach II/III; W2/3-interstadial). The high age of layer 5 has been questioned, because there are some indications that Willendorf II, layer 5 was mixed with the Aurignacian from stratum 4 to a certain degree. A second point of critique is, that it is not entirely clear if the unite C , where Haesarts took his samples really corresponds with stratum 5 as defined by earlier excavators. This industry is dominated by burins, Microgravettes, pointed blades with lateral retouches and endscrapers. The number of other microliths, and especially geometric microliths, is low.

When times became colder, during the developed Gravettian (around 27-25 k.a. BP), , typical Gravette points are rare, but Microgravettes are common. Microliths (lunates, trapezes, and triangular microliths) can be observed at several sites (Pavlov, Jarosov) in Moravia, but also in the Wachau (Willendorf). Micro saws, which are unknown from the Perigordian, are present in large quantities at Dolni Vestonice but also at Krems (Krems Hundsteig and Krems Wachtberg). Flechettes are common at Aggsbach, Pavlov I and Milovice. Pointed retouched blades were found in several strata at Willendorf II (6/7/8), Pavlov II and Predmost.

Two different facies were described by Czech researchers: “Facies I” without marginal retouches and with numerous non-backed microliths at sites such as at Dolni Vestonice I, and Pavlov. “Facies II” on the other hand is characterized by the use of marginal retouches, pointed blades and by a reduced number of microliths (Predmost; Dolni Vestonice II middle and upper strata, Willendorf II; 6/7/8 and Langenlois). The data supporting such a simple dichotic classification may be biased. New excavations show that several ensembles cannot be assigned to any of these “facies”. P. Skrdla already pointed out, that during the Gravettian in central Europe; every microregion was characterized by its own traits. The Jarosov microregion for example shows non-geometric microliths, micropoints, backed bladelets and micro saws. In addition lithic ensembles may be influenced by the tasks, which took place at the sites and different “facies” even may be found together at different areas of a  larger sites.

Shouldered points are characteristic for the late Willendorf-Kostenki stage of the eastern Gravettian about 25/24 k.a. BP, where the sites in the Vah valley and the Willendorf vicinity (Willendorf I, Willendorf II/9) become more important. The contemporaneous site of Milovice on the other hand shows a very different lithic ensemble with elements that resemble the Gravettian in Apulia (!), again stressing the enomous variability of the Gravettian technocomplex..

Typical wineyard near Spitz / Wachau.

Suggested Reading:

All about the Paleolithic in Lower Austria:

The Gravettian on the Middle Danube:

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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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