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The antler and bone points from the Early Upper Palaeolithic layers of Fumane Cave (Verona, Italy): technological reconstruction and implications for the cultural attribution.

By Jèquier C., Romandini M. and Peresani M.


Fumane Cave, at the bottom of the Alps in Northeastern Italy has proved to be one of the most important sites for the Early Upper Palaeolithic. The excellent state of conservation of the archaeological remains allow a comprehensive understanding of the activities that took place during the frequentations of the site. Aside from a very rich lithic industry, an impressive collection of shells and some of the oldest mobile art discovered in Europe, Fumane Cave yielded a conspicuous amount of hard osseous industry (Broglio and Dalmeri, 2005; Broglio et al., 2006).\ud We conducted a technological analysis of the antler and osseous industry as well as teeth used as ornaments. In addition to the material already found during the excavations, both on site and through sieving, we managed to recover several elements pertinent to the different stages of the chaîne opératoire. This contribution focuses on the antler and bone points.\ud Antler of Cervidae were used to produce five split-based points in the upper levels of the Aurignacian (D3-D6). Three antler points have their base missing, preventing us from being able to make a typological attribution. Moreover, a preform of split-based point in antler was discovered in the A2R layer, which was attributed to the Proto-Aurignacian. From a technological standpoint, we were able to recover four fragments of antlers, which all show clear direct percussion débitage with a large and wide lithic implement. Although we did not find any baguette, thus impeding to understand the exact extraction modality, we were able to determine that the splitting of the base occurred after a first grooving of the superficies, but without any particular preparation of the base, as has been observed in other sites in Germany and France (Liolios, 2006). All the antler points have undergone a thorough grooving in order to give the final form to the point.\ud Moreover, one split-based point has been produced on bone. Although the base and the shaft appear to be fully worked, the distal extremity has been deliberately separated from the rest of the support. Clear stigmata of sawing have been observed on the first half of the width of the point. The other half bears signs of fracturation by flexion. The missing extremity was not recovered at Fumane and a satisfactory explanation for the reason of the separation of the base, still functional, from the distal extremity has yet to be found.\ud The presence of split-based points within Proto-Aurignacian layers is very rare and has been observed only in a few sites (Tartar and White, 2013), but it is usually attributed to a more recent techno-complex, the Early Aurignacian. The attribution to the Proto-Aurignacian based on the lithic industry at Fumane Cave allows to further extend the data available on this type of hard osseous industry. Another example in a possibly Proto-Aurignacian context is the small split-based point from Potočka zijalka (Jéquier, 2014). Finally, the presence of a split-based point made of bone is very rare and implies a good understanding and mastering of the different techniques used on antler in order to transpose them onto another raw material

Publisher: European Society for the study of Human Evolution
Year: 2014
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