Denominating Lamelles during the Proto / Aurignacian in S/W-France and Eurasia

dufour ventraldufour dorsalThese are ventral and dorsal views from three slightly curved unretouched Lamelles Dufour (Dufour subtype) from the Aurignacian I levels from Pataud (Dordogne; France) and Les Cottes (Vienne; France). Microtraceology shows, that all classes of  lamelles during the Protoaurignacian and Aurignacian, retouched and non-retouched, were used as tools. They were parts of different  composite tools, used for the hunt but also used as “knifes” for cutting meat but also for cutting soft vegetal materials. One proposition about their hafting , made by L. Fiedler can be found here:

One common tendency can be distinguished during the Early Upper Paleolithic: a production that is commonly fabricated on light and elongated lithic blanks. This “point” phenomenon seems to be anchored in the preceding middle Paleolithic industries. One of the motivating factors of change in lithic productions at the dawn of the Upper Paleolithic was the role played by projectile elements that are commonly fabricated on light and elongated lithic blanks.. This phenomenon of “leptolithisation” though is clearly evident from the beginning of the Aurignacian.  Therefore, a common preoccupation, in this case the search for technical solutions for arming projectiles, could explain the apparent community of these distinct industrial complexes (Emiran, Bachokirian, Bohunician…). It is not until later that this tendency would become concrete and lead to a relative homogenization of technical traditions across Europe (Protoaurignacian) and the Near East (Early Ahmarian). This apparent unification of technical traditions could be attributed to the remarkable success of bladelet productions from both a techno-functional and socio-economic perspectives” (N TEYSSANDIER).

During the last 20 years, lamelles (bladelets) have found intensive evaluation in European prehistoric research. Beginning with the very early Upper Paleolithic in S/W- France, bladelets were types of highly standardized blanks, used in the production of a panoply of artifacts, whose stylistic attributes can be assigned to different successive phases or chrono-cultural stages from the end of MIS 3 and during MIS 2.

Lamelles during the Protoaurignacian and the Aurignacian in S/W-France are highly diversified and have not only chronological,but also ecological, economical and paleo-ethnological meanings. They can be classified by the several dichotomies: Large vs small, straight or only slightly curved vs twisted, tipped vs non-tipped. Of importance are also their retouches (ventral, dorsal, alternately, marginal vs semiabrupt) and their different chaine operatoire. According to the work of Brun-Ricalens focusing on Aurignacian bladelets, Lamelles Dufour are curved or twisted and if retouched, always bear a fine marginal retouch on one edge on the ventral side and occasionally an inverse retouch,which can be marginal or semiabrupt-invasive on the dorsal side (alternately retouches) . Lamelles and points of the St. Yves type have direct, bilateral semiabrupt retouches and are mostly  flat or weakly twisted.

Many authors prefer not to use the historical charged proper names, assigning the artifacts to sites that were rather badly excavated during the 19th / beginning of the 20th century and  instead speak about a broad category of Aurignacian bladelets with  different attributes. In my view, the typological system developed by Brun-Ricalens and others is well developed, and bears chronological and paleo-ethnographic meaning and should therefore be maintained as a useful framework in the evaluation of the European Paleolithic and maybe beyond.

During the Protoaurignacian, Bladelets were produced from pyramidal / prismatic cores, which were also used for blade production. Several subtypes of lamelles have been described:

  • Large Lamelles Dufour (subtype Dufour) with straight or only slightly curved profile. If tipped and alternately retouched they are also called Krems Point (other researchers subsume the “Krems Point” category under the St Yves points with alternately retouches)
  •  Large  St. Yves  Points, often with invasive retouches

During the Aurignacien ancient typique,  Small Lamelles Dufour (subtype Dufour), produced from carinated and nosed scrapers were present.

During the Aurignacien recent,  Small (<20 mm long), distally twisted Lamelles Dufour bearing fine retouches, almost always inverse (subtype Roc-de-Combe) were present. They were produced from busked burins and nosed scrapers with a narrow front.

 Aurignacien final: large bladelets, mostly with bilateral direct retouch were made from Vachon “burins”

Lamelles Dufour are also known from some Châtelperronian sites but with a different chaine operatoire of their production. The large quantity of the early Ahmarian bladelets ( El Wad points) seem to fall into the definition of the St. Yves category, given here. But this has to be re-evaluated, as well as an exact definition of the polymorphous El Wad point category.  Other early Upper Paleolithic points from the Zagros region (for example the Arjeneh Points), should incorporated into an unified framework of defining Eurasian bladelets.

carinated aggsbach

Front of a carinated scraper for the production of twisted blades (Kebara / Israel)

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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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One Response to Denominating Lamelles during the Proto / Aurignacian in S/W-France and Eurasia

  1. Joseba says:

    Here you have more information about Protoaurignacian Dufour bladelet function:
    Christian NORMAND, Magen O’FARRELL, Joseba RIOS GARAIZAR (2009) THE FUNCTION(S) OF ARCHAIC AURIGNACIAN BLADELETS: data and thoughts based on examples from Isturitz cave (Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France)

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