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Neanderthal Handaxe

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  • #16
    Just an awesome thread from everyone who posted
    Thanks
    Missouri

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    • #17
      [QUOTE=Sunny;n615973]
      Originally posted by painshill View Post
      [SIZE=16px]Nice axe, but you may want to reconsider the dating. We had Neanderthal presence from around 400,000 years ago until about 180,000 years ago. The British mainland was then unoccupied until about 60,000 years ago for climatic reasons, when Neanderthals then returned from continental Europe. There were perhaps instances of hunting parties from the continent following game across from continental Europe during brief periods of interglacial warmth and becoming trapped here, but camps of that kind are both rare and uncertain.

      Roger, I believe that was the thinking until Wenban-Smith did the Dartford excavation, which they dated to between MIS 5b and 5d, using Optically stimulated luminescence (OSL).
      So that means there was occupation of Southern Britain between 87,000 and 109,000 years ago.

      The site I found this at has not been dated, so the wide spectrum of dates is a safe bet, based on the style of handaxe.

      Yes, but Wenban-Smith’s theory doesn’t have widespread support, and the dating has been questioned, has it not? His proposition for Neanderthal occupation of Britain during the so-called “abandonment period” as a result of fluctuating sea levels making a crossing from France possible at specific times doesn’t have widespread acceptance.

      His evidence (as opposed to theory) comes from just two flint artefacts found during the Dartford excavation, although they appear to have remained in situ where they were deposited and the sediments above and below appear to have secure dates. The two flint pieces are undisputed as human-made artefacts but not undisputed as Neanderthal of the claimed age. One was produced on a flake from a large flint nodule with about half of its cortex remaining on the dorsal side and has a long sharp cutting edge. Despite being ‘pristine’ it has no use-wear evidence to confirm its use as a tool. The other was the mesial portion of a large flat flake with no evidence of retouching or diagnostics preserved and likely a waste flake.


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      A hand-axe like yours, if it had been retrieved from undisturbed stratigraphy and dated to the abandonment period would be of national importance.
      I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.

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      • #18
        [QUOTE=painshill;n616311]
        Originally posted by Sunny View Post


        Yes, but Wenban-Smith’s theory doesn’t have widespread support, and the dating has been questioned, has it not? His proposition for Neanderthal occupation of Britain during the so-called “abandonment period” as a result of fluctuating sea levels making a crossing from France possible at specific times doesn’t have widespread acceptance.

        His evidence (as opposed to theory) comes from just two flint artefacts found during the Dartford excavation, although they appear to have remained in situ where they were deposited and the sediments above and below appear to have secure dates. The two flint pieces are undisputed as human-made artefacts but not undisputed as Neanderthal of the claimed age. One was produced on a flake from a large flint nodule with about half of its cortex remaining on the dorsal side and has a long sharp cutting edge. Despite being ‘pristine’ it has no use-wear evidence to confirm its use as a tool. The other was the mesial portion of a large flat flake with no evidence of retouching or diagnostics preserved and likely a waste flake.




        A hand-axe like yours, if it had been retrieved from undisturbed stratigraphy and dated to the abandonment period would be of national importance.

        Roger, I am unsure where the proposal is that W-Bs paper 'does not have widespread support' comes from ?
        Francis is after all the most eminent Lower Palaeolithc Archaeologist in the UK. Anyone doubting his work would have to be held in high regard, have examined the material and been published (peer reviewed) on the very pieces in question; or is simply being argumentative for the sake of being so.

        I do not disagree with your summary of the second flake, but the first (larger one), which is identified as Artefact Δ1502, has been retouched at the distal end. Not that that of itself is significant, as Levallois Product does not require retouch to prove its intent.
        As to use-wear this might not be present depending on the tool use and frequency of use.
        The other crucial fact from Δ1502 is that there are previous flake negatives on the dorsal surface; so this was not an isolated removal or chance natural collision. Thus the fact that it does not show any use-wear signs is not relevant.

        This then returns us to the key fact, that it is a tool and is from an undisturbed layer that was dated by OSL. The dating of the overlying and underlying sediments is not - as far as I am aware - being disputed ?
        So there were Neanderthal in Britain during MIS5b-5d.
        A number of abraded flint tools were recovered from the slopewash layer above (in layer C-V) the one in question, including a handaxe. And whilst the dating of that could be questioned there is some grounds to suggest that the layer was from a contemporary period.

        For me the biggest shame is that we as a nation do not consider this for its significance and commence a wider area excavation (beyond the boudary of the road enahancement) to seek to recover more evidence.

        The actual dating of my little handaxe is not the issue. It could be from anytime within which Neanderthals were resident in southern Britain and were making small MTA handaxes. The sediments from which I recovered it are now under a housing development. So my suggestion for a date range is not inaccurate; unless we dispute the accuracy of the OSL for Dartford.

        I need to go and do some reading as I thought Beccy Scott had also argued repeatedly for Neanderthal occupation of Britain during MIS5.... is that something you had read ?

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        • #19
          I just want to add to the Carbon 14 analysis. Years ago when I was helping on a State dig, I learned that lots of things could throw off the date acquired. Most especially ashes from a cigarette! Just a small ash would ruin the date. Other things like modern organics, like a root passing near or through a piece of charcoal, or even modern pollen, which one can't even see. And there are many other things that could ruin a sample. Even though the charcoal would be shaved to be sure to get a very clean sample, moisture causing leaching will not be completely remove. Many samples from a single location will result in higher representative of accuracy. K
          Knowledge is about how and where to find more Knowledge. Snyder County Pa.

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          • #20
            Curious why no calcite deposit on the skull but is heavy on the brow area and face area .
            SE IA

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            • painshill
              painshill commented
              Editing a comment
              I think the skull-cap is also calcite-encrusted but in sheet-form. The other deposits are calcite "speleothems" with a specific form known as "cave popcorn" (also called "coralloids"). Speleothems come in many forms, for which the most familiar are "dripstone" types (such as stalagmites and stalactites) but which type forms is dependent on things like the nature of the carbonate-rich water movement, dripping, or splashing and the degree to which the deposition surface allows water to accumulate. Probably the rounded cap of the skull has resulted in 'run-off' of water such that the pop-corn has only formed on localised flatter exposures of the skull.

            • oldrocks2
              oldrocks2 commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks, that probably it. I have a piece of limestone covered in popcorn calcite and the curved section is just smooth limestone.

          • #21
            I keep seeing an achullian hand axe in the stones at the drive through at macdonalds. Gona take a pic. I want to get out and grab it every time I see it
            New Jersey

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