πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei)

Here we see prepared cores, most of them are discoidal and two in Figure 2 are Levallois. The Flint examples come from South Italy (Fig.1), the Quartzite  examples from Northern Hessen in Germany (Fig. 2).

The phrase πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei) “everything flows” either was spoken by Heraclitus or survived as a quotation of his. “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. This means that we are changing and the river is changing. Hominins have the ability to change and adapt to a dynamic environment. After 300 k.a. they created several prepared core techniques and changed them according to their needs. The Archeological record in Africa and Eurasia is very similar in this respect

The classic Levallois reduction is clearly geared towards removing large flakes from a surface rather than a volume (Boeda 1995), controlling the size of the product and the productivity of the core. This Concept is defined by several features

  • The volume of the piece is conceived as two surfaces separated by a plane of intersection
  • These surfaces are hierarchically related, one being a striking platform surface and the other a flaking surface.
  • The flaking surface show the maintenance of distal and lateral convexities
  • The fracture plane for the removal is broadly parallel to the plane of intersection
  • the junction between the flaking surface and the striking platform (the hinge) is perpendicular to the axis of percussion and oriented to allow the removal of flakes from the flaking surface
  • Flaking is exclusively done with a hard hammer

It remains unclear if  one or more of these principles is absent, can the technology still be considered Levallois?  Some researchers maintain that you can still call a technique Levallois if only one essential is present: two hierarchically related surfaces separated by a plane of intersection.

Another open question is the issue of predetermination or intentionality. Although  it is popularly to perceive intentionality  to be inherent in the Levallois strategy, it has been disputed by some writers, particularly in questioning the Levallois method as a means of producing “privileged flakes.” Davidson (2002) uses Van Peer’s refitting work, which showed that many preparatory flakes were absent from knapping floors at several MSA sites in Upper Egypt, suggesting that Levallois flakes were not necessarily the desired end product.

In this view even the most famous product of the Levallois technique, the Levallois point may be non-intentional under certain circumstances.

In 1995 Boeda defined the Discoid concept:

  • “The core volume, conceived as two oblique asymmetric convex surfaces marked by one theoretical plane of intersection
  • The non-existence of hierarchization between the two surfaces of a core. One is conceived as a flaking surface, and the other as striking platform, but with the possibility of role inversion during one operational sequence.
  • The flaking surface is prepared in order to predetermine certain products obtained this way. The technical cri- terion for predetermination consists of more or less pro- nounced peripherical convexity, with the aim of con- trolling lateral and distal detachment of each prede- termined removal.
  • In order to bring the predeterminant and predetermined detachments in correspondence with the conceived aims, the preparation of the core surface for striking platforms emplacement is undertaken. In spite of its particularity, all these preparations share the same criteria: the flaking axis of predetermined removals is perpendicular to the striking platform employed to obtain it.
  • The detachment plane of predeterminant and predetermined removals is oblique with respect to the theo- retical plane on intersection of the two core surfaces.
  • The sole flaking technique employed during the discoid operational scheme is direct percussion by a hard stone hammer”.

While the knapper can change between several modes within one of the basic concepts (Levallois: “preferential” and “recurrent” methods; by unidirectional, bidirectional, or centripetal flaking); (Discoidal: unifacial (pyramidal section), bifacial (bipyramidal section) and multifacial (globular section) exploitation, with a different grade of hierarchization of its surfaces {Xavier Terradas}, there seems no way, that a Levallois core is transformed into a discoidal core and vice versa. Anyhow the steadily flow and change within the concepts shows the enormous flexibility of early stone knappers.

Levallois Blade Core

Standing on the shoulders of giants: Refitting Strategies and the Levallois Concept

The Story of Levallois Points

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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2 Responses to πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei)

  1. Jenny says:

    Love your blog! Would it be possible to send you a link to a photo or photo of a stone too I found in North America? It has rust colored burn marks and I am curious to what this is.

  2. Katzman says:

    Please send to jmeller@web.de

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