Pointed Blades during the European Upper Paleolithic

spitzklinge1 aggsbachThis is a pointed blade from a “Perigordien Vc” (Gravettian; Noaillian) context in the Vezere Valley (7×2,5×07 cm). Such pieces were rather rare in the Gravettian of S/W-France. These artifacts seem to be have been used as a domestic tool (perforator, grover in the production of antler splinters) as demonstrated by limited microtraceological studies.

Pointed blades with  steep lateral retouches are known from the Gravettian of the Solutré site-but their functional meaning is certainly different from the perforator like pointed blades elsewhere.

Pointed blades were not included in the established UP type list of Demars and Laurent (1989)-here they are subsumed under the category of retouched blades, and “becs” .

Joachim Hahn in 1982 introduced “Spitzklingen” as a separate entity and described the  continuum between pointed blades and Bohrers / Langbohrer.  At some sites (Petersfels; Late Magdalenian) some transitional artifacts between Zinken and pointed blades have been described. Another modification is the burin like renovation of pointed blades with a lateral damage on one edge.  In summary pointed blades may be artifacts “ready for use” or intermediate products during the reduction process of becs and other pointed artifacts.

In Europe pointed blades already appear during the Middle Paleolithic in the West:  http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/10/pointed-blade-from-the-mousterian-of-the-abri-de-la-gane-grolejac/, but are present also in Central Europe (Wallertheim D; OIS 5c) and the Bohunician (OIS3; mostly unretouched, but also with distal retouches at Stránská skála III).

While pointed blades during the Aurignacian of M/W-Europe often show “Aurignacian” lateral retouches, the Gravettian and Magdalenian examples often do not. Pointed blades with lateral retouches are an important component in some “Pavlovian / Eastern Gravettian” ensembles (for example at Aggsbach / Lower Austria) and are common in the “Facies II” of the Pavlovian which is characterized by the use of marginal retouches, pointed blades and by a reduced number of microliths (Předmostí; Dolní Věstonice II middle and upper strata, Willendorf II; 6/7/8 and Langenlois).  During the Gravettian of Eastern Europe ( Molodova) these artifacts are also common . Pointed Blades are sometimes part of Willendorf-Kostenki ensembles (for example: Moravany nad Vahom: http://www.aggsbach.de/2011/04/eastern-gravettian-the-moravani-banka-site/).

During the Magdalenian of S/W- France pointed blades are rather rare with some remarkable exceptions (Rochereil: http://www.aggsbach.de/2011/05/late-magdalenian-from-rochereil-grand-brassac-dordogne/, Isturitz, Abri Morin). Many pointed blades in the Magdalenian of the Paris basin may be preforms of  “becs” and “Langbohrer” (Marsagny, Gros Monts I, Beauregard). The Magdalenian of Central Europe is usually devoid of this artifact type with exception of  the Pre-Bölling Magdalenian of Munzingen.

hahn aggsbach speckbergThe toolset from the Speckberg site near Meilenhofen in Bavaria, a non dated upper Paleolithic scatter with wonderful examples of pointed blades-described in a monograph by the great Joachim Hahn in 1982 remains enigmatic.  “Intuitively” Hahn dated this ensemble to the Gravettian or Magdalenian. By the way: since 40 years we are waiting for the monograph about the Handaxe rich Middle Paleolithic industry from this site……..




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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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