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The cultural context of the Aurignacian of the Swabian Jura

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With rich cave sites in the Lone and Ach Valleys, the Swabian Jura represents the most important find province for the Aurignacian in Germany. Special attention is paid to Geissenklösterle cave which up to the present has yielded the best studied Aurignacian assemblages of the region. With a marked blade technology and typical stone tool-types, as well as the presence of organic artifacts and objects of personal ornamentation, the lower Aurignacian horizon from this site represents a fully developed Aurignacian and constitutes, according to TL and radiocarbon dates, one of the oldest Aurignacian industries in all of Europe. From a technological viewpoint, the upper Aurignacian developed out of the lower one. Special characteristics are the many organic artifacts, an increase in personal ornamentation, and, finally, the presence of ivory figurines and bone flutes that are among the oldest of their kinds worldwide. The best parallels can be found in the Aurignacian layers of other Swabian sites, such as Hohlenstein-Stadel and Vogelherd, where the oldest remains of modern Homo sapiens sapiens in Europe have been discovered. Recent excavations at Hohle Fels near Schelklingen have yielded an important, well stratified and subdivided Aurignacian horizon with art objects comparable to those from Vogelherd and Geissenklösterle.
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The cultural context of the Aurignacian
of the Swabian Jura
MICHAEL BOLUS
Introduction
The distribution of Aurignacian sites in Germany shows distinct concentrations, and the
map published by Joachim Hahn in his pioneering synthesis on the central and east European
Aurignacian is, in general terms, still valid (Hahn, 1977). One of the centers, with the site of
Lommersum, is situated in
the Rhineland in a broader
sense, the second one com-
prises parts of eastern Ger-
many where, however, the
assemblages are generally
small and sometimes la-
beled as Aurignacian with-
out full certainty. The lar-
gest cluster can be found in
southern Germany, espe-
cially alongside the Danu-
be. Apart from several Ba-
varian sites, the Swabian
Jura represents the richest
find province for the Auri-
gnacian in Germany.
153
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE AURAGNACIAN OF THE SWABIAN JURA
ABSTRACT With rich cave sites in the Lone and
Ach Valleys, the Swabian Jura represents the most
important find province for the Aurignacian in
Germany. Special attention is paid to
Geissenklösterle cave which up to the present has
yielded the best studied Aurignacian assemblages
of the region. With a marked blade technology
and typical stone tool-types, as well as the presence
of organic artifacts and objects of personal
ornamentation, the lower Aurignacian horizon
from this site represents a fully developed
Aurignacian and constitutes, according to TL and
radiocarbon dates, one of the oldest Aurignacian
industries in all of Europe. From a technological
viewpoint, the upper Aurignacian developed out
of the lower one. Special characteristics are the
many organic artifacts, an increase in personal
ornamentation, and, finally, the presence of ivory
figurines and bone flutes that are among the oldest
of their kinds worldwide. The best parallels can be
found in the Aurignacian layers of other Swabian
sites, such as Hohlenstein-Stadel and Vogelherd,
where the oldest remains of modern Homo sapiens
sapiens in Europe have been discovered. Recent
excavations at Hohle Fels near Schelklingen have
yielded an important, well stratified and subdivided
Aurignacian horizon with art objects comparable
to those from Vogelherd and Geissenklösterle.
FIG. 1 – Map of southwestern Germany with the Aurignacian sites mentioned in the
text. Ach Valley: 1. Sirgenstein; 2. Hohle Fels; 3. Geissenklösterle; 4. Brillenhöhle.
Lone Valley: 5. Bockstein (Bocksteinhöhle and Bockstein-Törle; 6. Hohlenstein
(Stadel and Bärenhöhle); 7. Vogelherd.
Important cave sites with long stratigraphies, often containing several Aurignacian lay-
ers, are situated in both the Ach and Lone Valleys. Bocksteinhöhle, Bockstein-Törle, Hohlen-
stein-Stadel, Hohlenstein-Bärenhöhle, and Vogelherd are in the Lone Valley. Brillenhöhle,
Sirgenstein, Geissenklösterle, and Hohle Fels are in the Ach Valley (Fig. 1).
In this paper, I will try to characterize the Aurignacian of the Swabian Jura, concen-
trating on the cultural context. Conard and Bolus (2003) and Conard et al. (this volume) dis-
cuss in detail the problems with dating the Aurignacian and determining its chronostrati-
graphic position and Liolios while Teyssandier (this volume) provides further details con-
cerning its lithic and bone technologies.
A short history of research
The first Aurignacian artifacts from the Swabian Jura, including perforated cave bear
canines, were excavated by Ludwig Bürger in the Bocksteinhöhle in the 1880’s (Bürger,
1892). Pioneering research on the Aurignacian in southern Germany was carried out by
Robert Rudolf Schmidt when excavating Sirgenstein cave in 1906. His results were pub-
lished in 1910 (Schmidt, 1910) and served as a basis for his fundamental monograph Die
diluviale Vorzeit Deutschlands, published in 1912 (Schmidt, 1912).
The Aurignacian site with most abundant finds so far excavated in southern Germany
is Vogelherd cave, where Gustav Riek found two rich Aurignacian horizons (Riek, 1934).
More recently, it is Joachim Hahn’s name that has become closely associated with Auri-
gnacian research in general and especially in southwestern Germany. His excavations in
Geissenklösterle cave, where he found two rich Aurignacian horizons, are internationally
known.
Following Hahn’s death in 1997, excavations at Hohle Fels near Schelklingen, only
3 km away from Geissenklösterle, continued under the direction of Nicholas Conard and
Hans-Peter Uerpmann. An Aurignacian sequence with clear subdivisions, which Hahn had
only touched in its uppermost part in the 1970’s, has been excavated since 2001. Thus, for
the first time in ten years, a well-stratified Aurignacian can be studied in southwestern Ger-
many.
The Geissenklösterle Aurignacian
Fieldwork was carried out in Geissenklösterle cave by Joachim Hahn and others
between 1973 and 1991, and has been continued since 2000 by Nicholas Conard and col-
leagues. These excavations uncovered a long stratigraphy comprising layers from the Mid-
dle Paleolithic to the Mesolithic, as well as other Holocene material, thus providing the best
studied sequence in the Swabian Jura. While the Middle Paleolithic yielded only few tools,
generally bearing cryo-retouch, the Gravettian and Aurignacian layers were especially rich
in finds.
The Aurignacian can be subdivided into a lower and an upper Aurignacian. A series
of dates based on the TL signal of burnt flint yielded an age of about 40 000 BP for the lower
Aurignacian and an age of about 38 000 BP for the upper Aurignacian (Richter et al.,
2000). Moreover, we have several dozens of radiocarbon dates, both conventional and AMS
dates. If one excludes obvious outliers and dates on cave bear bones and other non-arche-
ological materials, there are 33 dates from five different laboratories for several subunits of
154
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE AURIGNACIAN AND OF THE TRANSITIONAL TECHNOCOMPLEXES. DATING, STRATIGRAPHIES, CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS
the lower Aurignacian complex III and the upper Aurignacian complex II. Although some
radiocarbon dates are about as old as the TL dates, on average the AMS dates are about 2000
years younger for each Aurignacian horizon respectively (Conard and Bolus, 2003; see
also Conard et al., this volume).
Both horizons yielded evident settlement features, the most outstanding feature of the
lower Aurignacian being a fireplace, which Hahn did not excavate entirely and which was
further investigated during the new excavations in 2001 (Hahn, 1988, 1989; Conard and
Malina, 2002). For the upper Aurignacian, a large concentration of burnt bones should be
mentioned (Hahn, 1988).
The stone knapping technique is very similar in both horizons. Basically, the Aurigna-
cians used a relatively simple, but marked, unidirectional blade production technique. The
toolkit is similar in both horizons, but the percentages of special tool-types differ signifi-
cantly. Carinated and nosed end scrapers appear much more often in the lower Aurignacian,
where splintered pieces are rare. Burins nearly reach the same numbers in both horizons.
The upper Aurignacian is dominated by simple endscrapers, and splintered pieces by far out-
number those of the lower Aurignacian. There are several busked burins. It is only in the
upper Aurignacian that very small numbers of Dufour bladelets appear (Figs. 2-3).
In the lower Aurignacian, most organic artifacts are projectile points and carefully
worked ivory rods, but there is also one antler hammer. The large amount of ivory working
debris is striking and suggests the manufacture of an important number of organic artifacts.
Projectile points with split bases appear only in the upper Aurignacian. All in all, the range
of organic artifacts is more diverse in the Geissenklösterle II assemblage, which features one
bâton percé made of ivory (Figs. 2-3).
The lower Aurignacian yielded a diverse array of pendants, ten in total: there are elon-
gated and tear-shaped pieces made of ivory, as well as perforated fox canines (Fig. 2). In addi-
tion, one worked fragment of soapstone from the same complex may also be interpreted as
the remains of a pendant (Conrad, 2003). Most pieces mentioned had been found near the
fireplace or in the fireplace itself (Hahn, 1989, 1992). The objects of personal ornamentation
in the upper Aurignacian are dominated by double perforated ivory beads, their number now
reaching nearly one dozen. No parallels exist for a large retoucher-like pendant made of rein-
deer antler (Fig. 3). In the context of ornamental objects, decorated antler rods with regular
incisions at the rim must also be mentioned. Finally, there are some fish vertebrae which have
been perforated to be used as pendants and which have been colored red intentionally.
Until now, art objects only appear in the upper Aurignacian (Fig. 3). These four ivory
figurines (including the relief with the upright standing anthropomorphic figurine with
carefully carved notches along the edges and regularly carved depressions on the backside)
are well known (Hahn, 1986). Belonging to the same context are two flutes made of swan
bones, which, like the art objects mentioned above, are among the oldest of their kind world-
wide (Hahn and Münzel, 1995).
There has been some confusion and debate about the character of the lower Aurigna-
cian of Geissenklösterle cave. Hahn described the assemblage as Proto-Aurignacian, pri-
marily because of the numerous carinated and nosed endscrapers, the relative scarcity of
retouched blades, the lack of points with split bases and, above all, because of its strati-
graphic position below an Aurignacian assemblage with points with split bases (Hahn, 1988,
1996). On the contrary, Nicholas Conard and I have argued that the Geissenklösterle III
assemblage is in every respect Aurignacian in character, even if without art objects (Bolus
and Conard, 2001; Conard and Bolus, 2003), while Janusz Kozl
´
owski and Marcel Otte
have placed this layer into their Pre-Aurignacian group, together with the Bachokirian
155
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE AURAGNACIAN OF THE SWABIAN JURA
156
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE AURIGNACIAN AND OF THE TRANSITIONAL TECHNOCOMPLEXES. DATING, STRATIGRAPHIES, CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS
FIG. 2 – Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle, Archeological Horizon III. 1-3. perforated fox canines; 4-5. ivory pendants; 6. ivory
bead; 7. grooved bone; 8. artifact resembling a carinated endscraper; 9-10. carinated endscrapers; 11-12. nosed endscrapers;
13, 17. burins; 14, 21. bone points; 15. endscraper; 16. splintered piece; 18. ivory rod (projectile point?); 19. worked ivory
splinter; 20. blade core with refitted blades. After Hahn, 1988 (1-2, 4-5, 7-21) and Hahn, 1989 (3, 6).
157
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE AURAGNACIAN OF THE SWABIAN JURA
FIG. 3 – Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle, Archeological Horizon II. 1-3. endscrapers; 4. pointed blade; 5. laterally retouched
blade; 6, 10-11. splintered pieces; 7. busked burin; 8. burin on truncation; 9. truncated blade; 12. antler pendant; 13. Dufour
bladelet; 14, 20, 22. ivory figurines; 15-19. double perforated ivory beads; 21. bone flute; 23. decorated bone; 24. bone point
with split base; 25. bâton percé of ivory. After Hahn, 1986 (14, 20, 22), Hahn, 1988 (1-13, 15-19, 23-25), and Conard and Bolus,
2003 (21).
158
THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE AURIGNACIAN AND OF THE TRANSITIONAL TECHNOCOMPLEXES. DATING, STRATIGRAPHIES, CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS
FIG. 4 – Aurignacian of Hohle Fels near Schelklingen. Archeological Horizon III (1, 9-11, 15, 19, 21), Archeological Horizon IV
(2-8, 12-14, 16-18, 20), and Archeological Horizon V (22-23). 1. perforated bear incisor; 2. perforated upper eyetooth from red
deer; 3. roughout for ivory beads; 4. half-finished ivory bead; 5-7. double perforated ivory beads; 8-9. burins; 10. truncated
blade; 11. busked burin; 12-13. disc-shaped ivory beads; 14. pointed blade; 15. carinated burin; 16. double nosed endscraper;
17. blade with Aurignacian retouch; 18. blade pointed at one end and truncated at the other; 19. bone awl with intense
polishing; 20. fragment of a bone point; 21. worked mammoth rib; 22. nosed endscraper; 23. endscraper combined with a
pointed end. After Conard and Bolus, 2003.
assemblages, erroneously suggesting a lack of carinated endscrapers and bone points
(Kozl
´
owski and Otte, 2000). In recent years, João Zilhão and Francesco d’Errico have in
numerous publications disputed the Aurignacian character of Archeological Horizon III,
and argued — sometimes based on incorrect information — that the key Aurignacian arti-
facts in horizon III, especially the ornaments and bone tools, are due to a mixing from the
overlying Aurignacian assemblage (Zilhão and d’Errico, 1999; Zilhão, 2001; see also Conard
and Bolus, 2003).
Other Aurignacian sites in southwestern Germany
The closest parallel for the upper Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle in southwestern Ger-
many, not only because of the presence of art objects, is represented by Aurignacian layer
V of Vogelherd cave, in the Lone Valley, while Aurignacian layer IV from this site seems to
show more affinities with the much earlier Geissenklösterle III Aurignacian (Riek, 1934;
Hahn, 1977, 1988). AMS dates recently measured at Prime Lab at Purdue University sug-
gest that layer V from Vogelherd may be up to 36 000 years old, while layer IV is up to now
only poorly dated, the oldest (conventional
14
C) results falling in the range of 31 000 BP
(Conard and Bolus, 2003).
Because of the famous Löwenmensch figurine, the Aurignacian of Hohlenstein-Stadel
may be added to this group, although the stone artifacts show some similarities with the
lower Geissenklösterle Aurignacian (Hahn, 1988). Dates for the Aurignacian from Hohlen-
stein-Stadel lie in the range of about 32-33 000 BP, which means that they are somewhat
younger than those for the upper Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle.
The Aurignacian from Sirgenstein cave is characterized by bone points with simple
bases and a dominance of endscrapers (Schmidt, 1912; Hahn, 1977); it reveals certain sim-
ilarities with the lower Aurignacian from Geissenklösterle rather than with the upper Auri-
gnacian. New dates for the Sirgenstein Aurignacian, the first ever obtained for this site, fall
in the range between around 27 000 BP (layer V) and 30 500 BP (layer VI), thus being dis-
tinctly younger than those for the Geissenklösterle III Aurignacian.
New results from the current excavations at Hohle Fels considerably enlarge our
knowledge of the Aurignacian in southwestern Germany. In 1999, the fragment of an
ivory figurine was discovered in a transitional horizon between the Gravettian and the
Aurignacian. Two bones from the immediate vicinity of the figurine produced dates of ca.
30 000 BP that fall into a time period when the earliest Gravettian in the region is already
appearing. Depicting an animal head, the art object can, for stylistic reasons, be compared
with the figurines from Geissenklösterle and Vogelherd (Conard and Floss, 2000). In the
summer of 2001, a well stratified Aurignacian horizon with clear subdivisions was uncov-
ered in the cave, and the excavation team is still excavating in these Aurignacian layers. Obvi-
ously no significant vertical disturbances appeared within these subdivisions. One of the
lowermost of these layers, Geological Horizon 7, produced a hearth-like concentration of
burnt bones. The Aurignacian finds include typical stone tools, such as carinated and
busked burins, nosed and carinated scrapers, and laterally retouched blades. Moreover,
objects of personal ornamentation, among them double perforated ivory beads similar to
those from Geissenklösterle and Sirgenstein caves, as well as different organic tools, were
also found (Fig. 4). The presence of another fragmentary ivory relief which seems to depict
a bird is noteworthy (Conard et al., 2002). Absolute dates for the Hohle Fels Aurignacian
have not yet been obtained.
159
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE AURAGNACIAN OF THE SWABIAN JURA
The other, often small, Aurignacian assemblages from the Swabian Jura, such as those
from Bocksteinhöhle, Bockstein-Törle, and Hohlenstein-Bärenhöhle in the Lone Valley,
and Brillenhöhle in the Ach valley, will not be discussed here (for further information see
Conard and Bolus, 2003).
Human remains from the Swabian Aurignacian
While the Middle Paleolithic of southwestern Germany was produced by Neandertals
as is indicated by a Neandertal femur found in the Schwarzes Moustérien of Hohlenstein-
Stadel (Kunter and Wahl, 1992), we have to ask which human form manufactured the arti-
facts from the earliest phase of the Upper Paleolithic (Table 1).
TABLE 1
Human remains from Middle Paleolithic and Aurignacian deposits of the Lone and
Ach Valleys in the Swabian Jura.
Site Archeological Fossil Anthropological Archeological References
Horizon Determination Context
LONE VALLEY
Hohlenstein-Stadel
Schwarzes diaphysis of Neandertal Mousterian Völzing, 1938
Moustérien a right femur male? adult Kunter and
Wahl, 1992
19-20 m premolar modern H. s.? Aurignacian Hahn, 1977
spit 6 young adult
Vogelherd
V (basis) Stetten 1 modern H. s. Aurignacian Riek, 1932
cranium + mandible male adult Gieseler, 1937
2 lumbar vertebrae Czarnetzki, 1983
V (basis) Stetten 3 modern H. s. Aurignacian Gieseler, 1937
humerus male Churchill and Smith,
2000
V (basis) Stetten 4 modern H. s. Aurignacian Czarnetzki, 1983
left metacarpal
IV (top) Stetten 2 modern H. s. ? Riek, 1932
cranium male young adult Gieseler, 1937
Czarnetzki, 1983
ACH VALLEY
Sirgenstein
VI left upper canine modern H. s. Aurignacian Schmidt, 1910
left lower molar adult Schliz, 1912
VI right upper canine modern H. s. Aurignacian Schmidt, 1910
adult Schliz, 1912
One isolated premolar belonging presumably to a modern human comes from the imme-
diate vicinity of the Löwenmensch figurine in Hohlenstein-Stadel (Hahn, 1977), while three
human teeth from most probably two anatomically modern human individuals were found in
1906 by R. R. Schmidt within the lowest Aurignacian layer VI of Sirgenstein cave (Schliz, 1912).
The most important human fossils from the Aurignacian in southwestern Germany,
however, were discovered by Gustav Riek at the basis of the Aurignacian layer V of Vogel-
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THE CHRONOLOGY OF THE AURIGNACIAN AND OF THE TRANSITIONAL TECHNOCOMPLEXES. DATING, STRATIGRAPHIES, CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS
herd cave in 1931, consisting of a well-preserved skull known as Stetten 1 and the remains
of probably two other individuals referred to as Stetten 3 and Stetten 4 (Riek, 1932; Gieseler,
1937; Czarnetzki, 1983; Churchill and Smith, 2000). A second skull, Stetten 2, was found
at the top of layer IV, but its exact cultural affiliation is unclear (Riek, 1932; Gieseler,
1937). With the new Vogelherd dates mentioned above, the human bones from layer V are
the oldest fossils of modern Homo sapiens sapiens clearly associated with an Aurignacian
assemblage in Europe. Since the Aurignacian layer IV is overlying layer V, this means that
anatomically modern humans are at least responsible for the Aurignacian of Vogelherd
and, by analogy, of Geissenklösterle II type, but because of the obvious cultural continu-
ity between the Aurignacian horizons of the latter site it is plausible that Homo sapiens sapi-
ens can in the same way be held responsible for the Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle III
type.
Conclusions
What conclusions can be drawn from the data presented? Considering the Geis-
senklösterle III Aurignacian on the one hand and the Sirgenstein V Aurignacian on the
other hand, we have got cornerstones in southern Germany which document a life span of
the local Aurignacian over some 10 000 years. During this time period, it is obvious that
both the Ach Valley and the Lone Valley were frequently visited by man, as the numerous
dates for the Swabian Aurignacian indicate (see Conard and Bolus, 2003). Traditions were
maintained over extended periods of time, as is documented by the ivory figurines from
Geissenklösterle cave, on one hand, and the ivory figurine from the transitional layer at
Hohle Fels, on the other. This fits the fact that the assemblage from the lower Geis-
senklösterle Aurignacian, some 37-40 000 years old, finds its best, if any, parallels in the
Aurignacian of Vogelherd IV, perhaps 31 000 years old, and in the assemblages from Sir-
genstein cave, some 27-30 500 years old, while the upper Geissenklösterle Aurignacian can
be easily compared with Vogelherd V. The 32-33 000 year old Aurignacian of Hohlenstein-
Stadel holds a somewhat intermediate position, with the Löwenmensch figurine evoking the
Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle II and Vogelherd V type, whereas the artifact assemblage
is more like the Aurignacian of Geissenklösterle III and Vogelherd IV type. This indicates
that the characteristics of assemblages of, for instance, Geissenklösterle III type, such as the
lack of art objects, do not originate in chronological differences but rather have to be
explained in terms of functional variability. This, in return, strengthens a point frequently
made by Hahn: that one has to be cautious with chronostratigraphic interpretations based
merely on typology. Moreover, this means that Zilhão and d’Errico are wrong in refusing to
accept Geissenklösterle III as true Aurignacian and, finally, that Kozl
´
owski’s and Otte’s term
“Pre-Aurignacian” must be rejected for Geissenklösterle.
Series of dates for both the subdivisions of the new Aurignacian horizon in Hohle Fels
and for the newly excavated material from Geissenklösterle are in preparation. In addition,
micro-morphological analyses are being carried out at both sites with the help of Paul
Goldberg from Boston University. Thus, it will be possible to gain detailed information con-
cerning the genesis of the sites. In combination with the analysis of the archeological finds
and with further dating of the other sites, such as Sirgenstein, it will be possible to improve
the chronostratigraphy for the Aurignacian of southern Germany and, especially, to better
understand the transitions from the Middle Paleolithic to the Aurignacian and from the
Aurignacian to the Gravettian.
161
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE AURAGNACIAN OF THE SWABIAN JURA
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Nicholas Conard and Nicolas Teyssandier for productive discus-
sions and Marc Händel for technical support.
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163
THE CULTURAL CONTEXT OF THE AURAGNACIAN OF THE SWABIAN JURA
... Examples for such contradictions include the qualitative co-occurrence of artefact types in Hohle Fels AH IV thought to be directory fossils of specific chronological stages, or the co-occurrence of assemblages characterized by features, which mark different chronological stages, such as the chronological contemporaneity of Geißenklösterle AH II (early Aurignacian) and Hohle Fels AH IV showing analogies with a Roc-de-Combe-like bladelet production. Conard and Bolus introduced the term Swabian Aurignacian to highlight the specific techno-typological characteristics of the respective assemblages [63,64]. Moreover, by comparing techno-typological features of lithic and organic artefacts as well as personal ornaments of Aurignacian sequences at Geißenklösterle and Vogelherd, they suggested an internal regional development of the upper Aurignacian assemblages out of the lower ones [46,63]. ...
... Conard and Bolus introduced the term Swabian Aurignacian to highlight the specific techno-typological characteristics of the respective assemblages [63,64]. Moreover, by comparing techno-typological features of lithic and organic artefacts as well as personal ornaments of Aurignacian sequences at Geißenklösterle and Vogelherd, they suggested an internal regional development of the upper Aurignacian assemblages out of the lower ones [46,63]. In the context of comparative studies and with reference to Hahn [36], Conard and Bolus state that there is little chrono-cultural variation in the Swabian Aurignacian and expressed their hesitation at "chronostratigraphic interpretations based merely on typology" such as in the presence or absence of tool or core types [46,63,64]. ...
... Moreover, by comparing techno-typological features of lithic and organic artefacts as well as personal ornaments of Aurignacian sequences at Geißenklösterle and Vogelherd, they suggested an internal regional development of the upper Aurignacian assemblages out of the lower ones [46,63]. In the context of comparative studies and with reference to Hahn [36], Conard and Bolus state that there is little chrono-cultural variation in the Swabian Aurignacian and expressed their hesitation at "chronostratigraphic interpretations based merely on typology" such as in the presence or absence of tool or core types [46,63,64]. At the same time, we do not avoid embedding the Swabian Aurignacian in the context of a broader land use system, which encompasses further regional contextual areas. ...
Article
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Hohle Fels Cave in the Ach Valley of Southwestern Germany exhibits an Aurignacian sequence of 1 m thickness within geological horizons (GH) 6–8. The deposition of the layers took place during mild and cold phases between at least 42 ka (GI 10) and 36 ka calBP (GI 7). We present below a technological study of blade and bladelet production from AH IV (GH 7) at Hohle Fels. Our analyses show that blade manufacture is relatively constant, while bladelet production displays a high degree of variability in order to obtain different blanks. Knappers used a variety of burins as cores to produce fine bladelets. The results reveal a new variant of the Aurignacian in the Swabian Jura primarily characterized by the production of bladelets and microliths from burin-cores. The artefacts from the Swabian Aurignacian are technologically and functionally more diverse than earlier studies of the Geißenklösterle and Vogelherd sequences have suggested. The technological analyses presented here challenge the claim that the typo-chronological system from Southwestern Europe can be applied to the Central European Aurignacian. Instead, we emphasize the impact of technological and functional variables within the Aurignacian of the Swabian Jura.
... Antler hammers are known only from a very few Palaeolithic sites in Europe (Girod and Massenat, 1906 pl. XCVI; Breuil and Barral, 1955; Bordes, 1974, Fig. 4; Stodiek, 1990; Averbouh, 1999; Averbouh and Bodu, 2002; Bolus, 2003; Goutas, 2004), occurring as single examples in often rich archaeological horizons that also include bone retouchers (Mathis and Schwab, 2002; Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003 ). Currently, the oldest welldocumented antler knapping hammers are from Boxgrove (UK) and date to about 500, 000 years ago (Pitts and Roberts, 1997; Roberts and Parfitt, 1999; Pettit and White, 2012; Smith, 2013; Stout et al., 2014). ...
... The more brittle bone retouchers, in contrast, are likely to have had a shorter lifecycle (MacGregor and Currey, 1983; Jin and Shipman, 2010). This suggestion is supported by evidence from Geissenkl€ osterle Cave, (Germany), for example, where rare lower Aurignacian antler hammers were found in association with a rich lithic industry (Bolus, 2003; Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003). The rarity of antler hammers at Geissenkl€ osterle Cave can be contrasted with the abundance of stone, bone and other antler artefacts at the site, suggesting that antler hammers were more often re-used and curated tools (Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003, Fig. 6 ). ...
... Subsequently, however , Binford (1981) questioned the interpretation of 'retouchers' as bone tools, suggesting that the modifications were the result of marrow breakage and carnivore chewing. Within the past few decades, new techniques of analysis and in-depth studies have reexamined the question of Palaeolithic bone retouchers, by highlighting the distinction between natural damage and knapping marks (Mathis and Schwab, 2002; Mallye et al., 2012; Tartar, 2012; Abrams et al., 2014; van Kolfschoten et al., 2015), with experimental studies demonstrating how these tools were used to work stone tools (Chase, 1990; Vincent, 1993; Armand and Delagnes, 1998; Karavani c and Sokec, 2003; Mallye et al., 2012). The recent resurgence in the study of retouchers is evident from the increase number of publications (Fig. 7 ) and research groups undertaking experimentation and systematic descriptions of bone retouchers. ...
... Antler hammers are known only from a very few Palaeolithic sites in Europe (Girod and Massenat, 1906 pl. XCVI;Breuil and Barral, 1955;Bordes, 1974, Fig. 4;Stodiek, 1990;Averbouh, 1999;Averbouh and Bodu, 2002;Bolus, 2003;Goutas, 2004), occurring as single examples in often rich archaeological horizons that also include bone retouchers (Patou-Mathis and Schwab, 2002;Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003). Currently, the oldest welldocumented antler knapping hammers are from Boxgrove (UK) and date to about 500, 000 years ago (Pitts and Roberts, 1997;Roberts and Parfitt, 1999;Pettit and White, 2012;Smith, 2013;Stout et al., 2014). ...
... The more brittle bone retouchers, in contrast, are likely to have had a shorter lifecycle (MacGregor and Currey, 1983;Jin and Shipman, 2010). This suggestion is supported by evidence from Geissenkl€ osterle Cave, (Germany), for example, where rare lower Aurignacian antler hammers were found in association with a rich lithic industry (Bolus, 2003;Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003). The rarity of antler hammers at Geissenkl€ osterle Cave can be contrasted with the abundance of stone, bone and other antler artefacts at the site, suggesting that antler hammers were more often re-used and curated tools (Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003, Fig. 6). ...
... Antler hammers are known only from a very few Palaeolithic sites in Europe (Girod and Massenat, 1906 pl. XCVI;Breuil and Barral, 1955;Bordes, 1974, Fig. 4;Stodiek, 1990;Averbouh, 1999;Averbouh and Bodu, 2002;Bolus, 2003;Goutas, 2004), occurring as single examples in often rich archaeological horizons that also include bone retouchers (Patou-Mathis and Schwab, 2002;Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003). Currently, the oldest welldocumented antler knapping hammers are from Boxgrove (UK) and date to about 500, 000 years ago (Pitts and Roberts, 1997;Roberts and Parfitt, 1999;Pettit and White, 2012;Smith, 2013;Stout et al., 2014). ...
... The more brittle bone retouchers, in contrast, are likely to have had a shorter lifecycle (MacGregor and Currey, 1983;Jin and Shipman, 2010). This suggestion is supported by evidence from Geissenkl€ osterle Cave, (Germany), for example, where rare lower Aurignacian antler hammers were found in association with a rich lithic industry (Bolus, 2003;Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003). The rarity of antler hammers at Geissenkl€ osterle Cave can be contrasted with the abundance of stone, bone and other antler artefacts at the site, suggesting that antler hammers were more often re-used and curated tools (Teyssandier and Liolios, 2003, Fig. 6). ...
Article
The use of soft (bone, antler, tooth and wood) hammers and retouchers is a key innovation in early stone tool technology, first appearing in the archaeological record with Lower Palaeolithic handaxe industries (e.g. Boxgrove, UK ∼500 ka). Although organic knapping tools were undoubtedly a component of early human toolkits and are essential, for example, for the manufacture of finely-flaked handaxes, Mousterian scrapers and Upper Palaeolithic blades tools, such archaeological finds are exceptionally rare. In this study, we present qualitative and quantitative analyses (focus variation optical microscope, scanning electron microscope, micro-CT scanning and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy), of a newly discovered antler flint knapping from Laugerie-Haute West (France). This specimen was originally identified as a waste-product from splinter manufacture, and the use-damage appears to have been overlooked by earlier workers. The new analysis shows that prior to being used as a flint-knapping percussor, the red deer antler had been modified to reduce the length of its beam and to remove the tines. Although minimally used, characteristic use-damage includes attrition (pits and scores), compression of the antler matrix and flint chips embedded within some of the percussion features on the base of the burr. An AMS radiocarbon date of 12,385 ± 55 BP (12,647 ± 335 BC calibrated) confirms a Magdelenian context for the hammer. The fact that the Laugerie-Haute knapping hammer went unrecognised in a well-studied and accessible collection where it was stored for almost 200 years, suggests that antler hammers may be more common than generally assumed. Only further re-examination of prehistoric antlers in museum collections will confirm whether the apparent rarity of antler hammers during the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic is real phenomenon or the result of analytical biases.
... The Tübingen team restarted excavations at Geißenklösterle, intensified work at Hohle Fels, and most recently, initiated new excavations at Vogelherd (Conard 2002a;Conard and Malina 2006b). The newest period of research has been accompanied by many interdisciplinary studies and publications on new dating results (Richter et al. 2000;Conard and Bolus 2003), faunal studies Conard 2004a, 2004b), geoarchaeology Goldberg et al. 2003) as well as many annual reports in Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg and publications in other journals and conference proceedings (Bolus and Conard 2001;Bolus 2003;Conard et al. 2003a;Teyssandier and Liolios 2003;Conard and Bolus 2006;Teyssandier et al. 2006). ...
... Many artifact types including specific forms of ornaments, musical instruments, and artworks are completely unique to Swabia, and the organic and lithic technology shows a strong local signature as well (Hahn 1977;Bolus 2003;Conard and Bolus 2006). The Swabian Aurignacian appears suddenly and in a fully developed form around 40,000 years ago. ...
... The use of antler bases as soft percussors to thin and shape stone tools has often been posited (e.g., Averbouh and Bodu, 2002;Leroy-Prost, 2002;Goutas, 2015). There are unequivocal Upper Palaeolithic hammers obtained from antlers, and pressure-flakers in bifacial tool working made from tines (Girod and Massenat, 1906;Bordes, 1974;Stodiek, 1990;Averbouh, 1999;Averbouh and Bodu, 2002;Bolus, 2003;Goutas, 2004;Bello et al., 2016). Backing up in time, Middle Palaeolithic evidence for the use of antler percussors is very scarce; early Middle Palaeolithic examples are reported from Bilzingsleben (Mania, 1986), Early to early Middle Palaeolithic ones from caves near Monaco (Breuil and Barral, 1955), and Early Palaeolithic ones from Boxgrove (UK), which date to 500 ka (Wenban- Smith, 1989;Pitts and Roberts, 1997;Roberts and Parfitt, 1999;Pettit and White, 2012;Smith, 2013;Stout et al., 2014). ...
Article
The present is a palaeobiological and taphonomic analysis of a Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 4–3 (Late Pleistocene) assemblage of animal remains and hominin artefacts from layers 7–5 of Biśnik Cave, Częstochowa Upland, Poland. The analysis indicates that the bone assemblage is the result of a time-averaged palimpsest of both biotic and episodic abiotic events, the former consisting of many successive generations of animals and hominins that frequented the cave, and the latter including hydraulic winnowing. In fact, the taphonomic history of the fossil assemblage from Biśnik Cave's layers 7–5 is partially obscured by the overprint of hydraulic winnowing, which purportedly removed a certain amount of the original specimens. Besides evidence of cave bear deaths from non-violent, hibernation-related mortality and of occupation by generations of denning wolves and hyaenas, there is a wealth of flint artefacts, alongside remains of a few fireplaces and of a structure built in the cave by hominins to partition the cave chambers. The studied layer contains an impressive number of shed antlers, primarily of the red deer Cervus elaphus. Crocuta crocuta spelaea is normally held responsible for such accumulations of shed antlers in various European caves; Biśnik Cave's layers 7–5 will therefore simply add to the list. However, the role of accumulator of shed antlers attributed to the Pleistocene spotted hyena does not match the behaviour of its modern counterpart and seems not accounted for metabolically. The only reasonable alternative is that the antlers were collected by hominins. From this alternative perspective the cave would have functioned as a warehouse, where naturally shed antlers were stored as raw material, potentially to be shaped into tools and/or employed as tools to make other tools. The palaeobiological and taphonomic analysis presented here provides new insights into the succession of pre- and postdepositional events that involved the bone remains accumulated in the cave, as well as into the interactions between the animals and hominins of the time. More importantly, if hominins, and not hyaenas, were responsible for the amassment of the shed antlers in Biśnik Cave, this study raises doubts as to the hyaenid or human origin of other similar cave accumulations of shed antlers throughout Europe.
... Although around the turn of the millennium considerable debate surrounded the status of the earliest Upper Paleolithic of the Swabian Jura, recent research at the well-studied sites of Geißenklösterle and Hohle Fels has served to clarify this question (Bolus 2003;Teyssandier et al. 2006). The basis of this debate hinged on a combination of factors including Hahn's (1988) use of the term Proto-Aurignacian to describe the lower Aurignacian of archaeological horizon (AH) II at Geißenklösterle. ...
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The karst landscape of the Swabian Jura of southwestern Germany preserves an unusually complete record of Paleolithic prehistory. Many caves in the region contain evidence for Middle Paleolithic occupations. These find horizons are usually classified as belonging to the Swabian Mousterian. The find densities of lithic artifacts and anthropogenically modified fauna are typically low. Roughly 40 ka, the Upper Paleolithic began with the Aurignacian, which corresponds to the time of the arrival of modern humans in the region. At several key sites, Aurignacian find horizons overlie sterile geogenic deposits, and nowhere are Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic deposits interstratified. The material culture of the Aurignacian is characterized by numerous new forms of lithic and organic artifacts and much higher find densities than those usually documented in the Middle Paleolithic. While the resources used in both the Middle and Upper Paleolithic reflect a degree of continuity, the overall picture indicates that the start of the Upper Paleolithic represents a radical break in the history of settlement in southwestern Germany. With the arrival of modern humans in Eurasia, the cultural niche of Neanderthals was no longer viable. Rather than drastically changing their social and cultural patterns of behavior, Neanderthals may have been locked into their systems of behavior that had served them well in numerous contexts over millennia. KeywordsNeanderthals-Modern humans-Extinction-Technology-Subsistence-Symbolic artifacts
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This article presents the results of a multifaceted study of a Palaeolithic hammer made of antler, found in Biśnik Cave in southern Poland. It is the only tool of this type known from this period in Polish prehistory. The results of the 14C dating on the object verifies previous assumptions relating to its chronology and cultural affiliation. The results of Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) analysis allow us to provide further details in relation to the raw material used in the production of the artefact. This article also presents the results of a detailed traceological study which allow us to interpret the production and function of the tool. This analysis was conducted using Micro CT, alongside varying types of microscopy. The results of all these analyses are then compared and contrasted according to the current knowledge regarding these tool types to provide a broader context for the interpretation of this important artefact.
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Several interesting fi ndings and theories appeared during the last two decades in Moravia. The development of dating methods and the calibration of 14C data enables us to specify the chrono-stratigraphic position of main EUP sites in Moravia. Therefore questions of cultural relations and anthropological bearers are reopened and analysed in this paper with special attention to the Szeletian.
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The view that the Châtelperronian is the acculturation of late Neandertals brought about by contact with nearby moderns assumes an age of ca. 40,000 years ago for the earliest Aurignacian. However, the cultural meaning of the dated samples is dubious, either because they were collected from palimpsests containing other archaeological components or because the definition of the associated artifact suites as Aurignacian is not warranted. Wherever sample context is archaeologically secure, the earliest occurrences of the Aurignacian date to no earlier than ca. 36,500 B.P. This is in accordance with the strati-graphic pattern demonstrating the precedence of the Châtelperronian and equivalent technocomplexes of central and eastern Europe, consistently dated by various methods to before ca. 38,000 B.P. Given the Neandertal authorship of the Châtelperronian, it must be concluded that Neandertals had already accomplished their own Middle-to-Upper Paleolithic transition when the first Aurignacian moderns arrived in Europe. Therefore, such a transition occurred simultaneously and independently among European Neandertals and sub-Saharan moderns, across biological boundaries and irrespective of geographical proximity. This suggests that its causes lie in the domain of social process, not in that of putative biological mutations that would have bestowed symbolism upon a lineage of “chosen people.”
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In order to understand the Aurignacian phenomenon in Europe, one must clarify definitions and then consider it both in its territorial entirety and within the complexity of its origins. Moreover, the Aurignacian appears to be a composite phenomenon, articulated in a series of phases with varying geographic limits. The "classic" sequence defined in Western Europe is from now on insufficient to support an intelligible model. We propose here to explain certain essential characteristics useful for this new idea.
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Thermoluminescence (TL) dating of burnt silex (flint, chert), electron spin resonance (ESR) dating of teeth and14C-accelerator-mass-spectrometry (AMS) dating of bones has been carried out on samples from the Late Middle Palaeolithic and Early Upper Palaeolithic levels of the Geißenklösterle Cave, South Germany.ESR dating on tooth enamel from the upper part of level IV, which contains a very small undefined Middle Palaeolithic assemblage, yields a mean age of 43·3±4 ka. The overlying Early Aurignacian (level III) is placed in the Hengelo Interstadial by palaeoecological analysis.14C-AMS results give a mean age of 38·4±0·85 ka, whereas a mean age of 40·2±1·5 ka is obtained by TL of burnt silex, confirming the correlation of the Early Aurignacian level with the Hengelo Interstadial in Oxygen Isotope Stage (OIS) 3.14C-AMS of bone samples from the Aurignacian (level II) resulted in a mean age of 33·5±0·35 ka, whereas the TL ages on burnt silex are again older at c. 37 ka. These TL results can be taken as an indication of the age underestimation by14C caused by the lack of calibration. The Aurignacian level contains some of the most elaborate symbolic representations from the Upper Palaeolithic. Artwork of comparable quality is radiocarbon dated to 31,000 ka at the Grotte Chauvet, thus being significantly younger. Furthermore, the Geißenklösterle Cave provides evidence of the existence of early rock art in Central Europe, although only small pieces survived erosion. The Gravettian assemblage of the Geißenklösterle Cave yielded a mean14C-AMS age of 29·0±0·25 ka.