Denominating Lamelles during the Early Paleolithic in S/W-Asia: Examples from Kebara / Israel

kebara el wadThese are Bladelets (max 4,5 cm long)  from the early Ahmarian at Kebara: from left to right: Two unretouched lamelles, the proximal 2/3 of a Font Yves point and an El-Wad point with some (impact?) damage at the tip. Neuville and Garrod early noticed the similarity between the early Upper Paleolithic retouched lamelles in the Levant and points of the Font Yves type. Garrod called these armatures:  El Wad points ( Compared to the Font Yves points, which have a fusiform appearance and direct, bilateral semi abrupt retouches on both ends and are mostly weakly curved, the El Wad category is more diversified. El Wad points may be described as flat blades or bladelets, pointed by fine, semi abrupt or abrupt retouch on the dorsal surface at only the distal end. A fusiform appearance may be present or not. The retouch may extend continuously or discontinuously along only one or along both margins of the blade/bladelet. The blanks have an almost perfect shape for an armature and often needed only minimal modifications or were used without any retouch (“the lazy Ahmarians”). The points may be straight or even curved or twisted (note that the latter attribute in the European terminology are reserved for the Dufour category). The Abu Halka variant at Ksar Akil has been defined by Azoury as having an inverse retouch on the proximal end. While El Wad Points are common during the Ahmarian between 43-20 k.a. cal BP, they are rare, but not absent during the short episode of the Levantine Aurignacian at Kebara and Ksar Akil at ca 36-32 k.a. BP ( Early dates for the Ahmarian around  45-40 k.a. cal BP have been published from Kebara layer IIIa, IIIb, and IVb and IV/V, Qafzeh level 9 and Boker A and Stratum 17 at Ksar Akil. Other dates are younger: Üçağızlı, layer B is dated between 28 and 33 k.a. BP and at Qseimeh I, dates on ostrich samples give an age of circa 34 k.a. BP. At the sites of Lagama IIID, VII and VIII, Qadesh Barnea 601B and 501, Abu Noshra I and Abu Noshra II, most of the dates range between 36 and 30 k.a. BP. elwad kebaraThe main typological categories of the Aurignacian toolkit in the Zagros show, together with a clear abundance of bladelet tools, primarily Arjeneh points. These are defined as bladelets with a nearly rectilinear section, with short direct retouch limited to the edges to produce a fusiform contour, very similar to the original Font-Yves points. At Yafteh cave, bladelets were obtained in different ways: from bladelet cores, from flake edges and from the proximal ends of carinated burins. Classic Dufour bladelets are also present.  The toolkit also includes Aurignacian blades, sometimes pointed, numerous burins of different types, endscrapers on blades and splintered pieces. In addition to bladelet tools, tools unique to the Aurignacian – carinated endscrapers and burins – are also present. The calibrated C-14 dates, using Bayesian statistics, show a single chronological signal, between 37 and 39 cal BP near the Heinrich 4 event. In addition radiometric ages from Yafteh overlap some of the Early Ahmarian dates at Kebara and Ksar Akil. Based on these data Otte recently proposed: “Based on the available archeological and chronological dataset, the following hypothesis is proposed. It is generally accepted that Ahmarian and Levantine Aurignacian are distinct technocomplexes. From a phylogenetic point of view, Yafteh could then be seen as a hypothetical taxonomic unit between technological traditions derived from the Early Ahmarian and the Levantine Aurignacian”.

elwad kebaraDuring the Protoaurignacian of S-Europe, Bladelets were produced from pyramidal / prismatic cores, which were also used for blade production. Several sub-types of lamelles have been described: Firstly, 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) and secondly, large St. Yves Points, often with invasive retouches. The tools of the classic “Aurignacien ancient” are absent. The Mediterranean Protoaurignacian (at Castelcivita) are found below the Campanian Ignimbrite (CI) Y-5 tephra and are therefore older than 39 k.a. cal BP. These data are affirmed by the fact that pretreated-AMS dated-C-14 samples at of the Protoaurignacian in Italy situate this techno complex at ca. 41-40 k.a. cal BP. Last but not least, there are analogies to the EUP of the Levant and S-Europa, coming from the Don-area: Kostenki 14 (Markina Gora) The oldest cultural level at this site contains a small lithic assemblage (n=340) with no cores and very few tools (ca 1%); however, among these tools are highly characteristic Dufour bladelets similar to examples from the Protoaurignacian. The anchor for the early upper Paleolithic Kostenki chronology is again the Y5 tephra. The lowest EUP at Kostenki is immediately before and incorporated within the Y5 tephra and therefore roughly coincident with the Italian Protoaurignacian. It is fascinating to see the rapid development of bladelet technologies over such a vast area almost at the same time ( The important questions: monocentric or polycentric origin-and if monocentric origin: where did it happen?, and: why did it happen?-have to be resolved in the future..

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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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