Many awls in our argument. Bone tool manufacture and use from the Chatelperronian and Aurignacian layers of the Grotte du Renne at Arcy-sur-Cur

Abstract : A comparative analysis of the bone awls from the Châtelperronian and Aurignacian levels of the Grotte du Renne at Arcy-sur-Cure is conducted with the aim of establishing the cultural affiliation of these tools and identifying distinctive technological and functional features for the two assemblages. The studied material consists of fifty Châtelperronian and nine Aurignacien awls presenting an excellent state of preservation. The largest collection of Châtelperronian awls comes from the lowest (level X) of the three levels attributed to this technocomplex, and the awls from Châtelperronian and Aurignacian horizons show a spatial distribution which is different and coherent with that observed for diagnostic Châtelperronian and Aurignacian finds. This contradicts the hypothesis that the presence of bone tools in the Châtelperronian levels is the result of a reworking of sediments. Awls are, in both assemblages, made out of the limb bones of horse, reindeer and carnivores. Common features in the choice of blanks include the use of naturally pointed bones, such as accessory horse metapodials, shaft fragments derived from limb bones broken for marrow extraction, as well as elongated proximal fragments probably obtained by longitudinally splitting metapodials and radii. Châtelperronian awls show a more diverse repertoire of blank types (e.g. use of carnivore fibulae and of massive epiphyseal fragments obtained by fracture) and variable degrees of shaping than Aurignacian ones. Nine Châtelperronian tools are marked with sets of notches or v-shaped motifs, while only one Aurignacian piece bears a decoration consisting of a set of crosses. Comparative microscopic analyses of archeological and experimental tools indicate that the awls of the Châtelperronian were intensively used and produced hundreds, more likely thousands, of perforations on a variety of soft materials, probably different types of skins. Worn tools were resharpened by rubbing the points on grinding stones and tiny awl fragments were reused until total exhaustion.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - 5:06:58 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00444117, version 1


Francesco d'Errico, Michèle Julien, Despina Liolios, Marian Vanhaeren, Dominique Baffier. Many awls in our argument. Bone tool manufacture and use from the Chatelperronian and Aurignacian layers of the Grotte du Renne at Arcy-sur-Cur. J. Zilhão & F. d'Errico (Eds.). The Chronology of the Aurignacian and of the Transitional Technocomplexes. Dating, Stratigraphies, Cultural Implications, Instituto Portugues de Arqueologia, Lisbon, pp.247-270, 2003. ⟨halshs-00444117⟩



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