The Aurignacian in Lower Austria revisited

hundssteig  burin aggsbach

This is a Burin from the Krems Hundssteig site, made from Radiolarite and dating either to the Aurignacian or Gravettian.

The Krems Hundssteig site is one of several sites in the Krems valley with Aurignacian material, dated between 41-31 k.a. BP. New excavations indicate that not only an extensive Aurignacian level but also a substantial complex of Pavlovian layers are present at the site. It must be assumed that more than one cultural level was affected and destroyed by the historic loess quarrying during the early 20th century, and that the assemblage of Krems-Hundssteig artifacts, traditionally ascribed solely to the Aurignacian, might be interspersed with Gravettian pieces.

The Aurignacian from the Hundssteig is characterized by a large number of retouched bladelets including more than 1,500 Dufour bladelets with alternate retouch associated with unipolar bladelet cores of pyramidal morphology. This ensemble could be interpreted as a Protoaurignacian, both by typology and technology. In addition there are also many tools of an Aurignacien typique like carinated scrapers (cores), Aurignacian blades and strangulated blades. Actually it is unknown if this ensemble represents the effect of geological or curatory mixing of two technocomplexes, or if these artifacts were once the part of a single find horizon.

Several sites, usually detected and excavated before the WWI (with the exception of Krems Strazing and Alberndorf) are known in Lower Austria.

Krems Strazing, Layer 2 is dated to 31-29 k.a. BP. It is the layer of the anthropomorphic figurine (a dancing women??), found in 1988. A rich inventory with Aurignacian-endscrapers and burins, together with points and sidescrapers are present. Refitting sequences show that the lithic material, centered on several hearths, is contemporaneous. There are no bladelets, which may have removed from the site or displaced by taphonomic processes.

Senftenberg:  An Aurignacian site in the Krems valley, some 10 km north of the Hundssteig. The assemblage is a typical Aurignacian with Aurignacian endscrapers (bladelet cores), bladlets and laterally retouched blades.

Willendorf II/3: The Willendorf site is situated 30 km upstream from Krems on the left side of the Danube. Dated between 39-34 k.a. BP, this layer shows a typical Aurignacian pattern (carinated and nosed scrapers, laterally retouched flakes and blades). Because Willendorf II/3 could be one of the oldest Aurignacian ensembles in Europe, the radiometric data of the 2007-2011 excavations are urgently awaited.

Willendorf II/4 containsa typical Aurignacian, dated to 32-31 K.a. BC, mainly focused towards the production of bladelets, which is indicated by the presence of lamelles and many carinated and nosed scrapers. Bone points and ivory implements are also present.

Getzersdorf is situated 10 km south east of Krems in the Traisen valley. A small Aurignacian ensemble was detected without much contextual information during the early 20th century. Similar findings are known from Grosweikersdorf (32-31 k.a. BP).

Alberndorf, excavated 1990 to 1995 is situated on the southern slope of the river Pulkau, which flows from into the river Thaya ca 70 km north east from Krems,  The site probably represents just a single butchery episode in a cold steppe environment, as displayed by the small number of hunted individuals. Refitted lithics and the raw material procurement reflect the short term character of the primary site formation and its redeposition. Bladelets, most probably part of composite projectile implements are a significant component of the assemblage. Apart from laterally modified bladelets, artifacts of ivory are the most important finds. Alberndorf I is suggested to be a late Aurignacian butchery site, dated to 28 k.a. BP. The Aurignacian of Breitenbach in Saxony-Anhalt is of similar late age. Does this mean that the late Aurignacian is still present in central Europe during  a period for which Gravettian assemblages are already well documented in Lower Austria?

In Lower Austria the earliest Gravettian occupation is suggested to be best 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 this layer has been questioned, because there are some indications that Willendorf II/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.

Further North, the Moravian sites of Stranska Skala, Mladec, Vedrovice I, Milovice and Pod Hradem are relatively young (32-30 k.a. BP) and can not contribute to the questions about the beginning and end of the Middle European Aurignacian technocomplex.

Hohlweg bei Göttweig aggsbach katzman

Road cut near Getzersdorf

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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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