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THE LITHIC AND WOODEN TOOLS FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF TOOLS AND LITHIC SCULPTURES IN THE EVOLUED ACHEULEAN

Pietro Gaietto


The study of the tools and of the sculpture of the evolued Acheulean is not close in itself, as the study of equipments or of the art of our times, but it needs to know all the aspects of the life of the man of the Acheulean, that are not many. Some regard the material life, others the spiritual life.

On the studies of the spiritual life it is necessary to know a distinction between what is important, in how much scientific, and what is not.

On the spirituality of the man of the lower Paleolithic, from very little indications, rivers of pages have been written. I have defined this type of literature, at the limits of the science-fiction, " spirituality-fiction ".

The " spirituality-fiction ", also taking cues from the paleoanthropology and the palethnology, does not interpret the processes of the evolution in the cults, the art, the religions and the thought, but it is inspired generally to new creationism concepts.



At the contrary of the " spirituality-fiction", by now with a immensest literature, for the Paleolithic, does not exist a literature of " culture-fiction ", probably why not there are interests to dealing the argument, but I believe that, if existed, it would be interesting, pleasant and useful to make to better understand the prehistory to the great public, and perhaps to make to approach the palethnology some young person.

When I had little more than 20 years, and had begun the search on the paleolithic sculpture, at Genoa were 5 or 6 palethnologists; with them, I did not agree, why they did not want to feel to speak about this art, indeed laughed; and in order to be together, it had to be only spoken about tools and bonuses of animals, that they had found in the diggings. Today these persons not are more; all died for their old age ; but I mourn them, in how much in my city not are more palethnologists.

Evidently, there is a fallen of interests towards the palethnology in the city of Genoa and in Liguria; to the contrary, it has been said to me that, in Japan, the palethnology is of great actuality, not only in the search, but also near the great public.


It is correct that, in the palethnology texts, is only dealt what is found.

Unfortunately, the scientific study is limited only to the industries. On every other found object, that also re-enters in " the material culture ", there is signaling, but do not exist constant studies, and, very rarely, deductions.


Just deductions and hypotheses would have to be always made in palethnology.

If in the diggings of a site of the upper Paleolithic we find a bone needle, we can deduce that it served in order to sew dresses, even if the dresses not have been found.

If in a hut there are two hearths, we can deduce that the man carried there the pieces of firewood, that he had cut, and of which he had a supply.


It is diffuse opinion that about the evolued Acheulean we knows all the industries, but it is not at all true; our incomplete acquaintances are a lot.

We know all the typology of the lithic industry, but not the wooden industry, in how much not conserved; but of the wooden industry we know the use.

In the territories around Torre in Pietra, Castel di Guido and Malagrotta (Lazio, Italy), Homo erectus or perhaps archaic Homo sapiens, has killed and slaughtered elephants, rhinos, horses, urus, megacerus, bears, red deers, as testified by the boneses rests found in the diggings.
The small lithic tools were not useful in order to kill animals, but in order to produce wooden tools and equipments apt to the hunting.

The typology of the wooden tools was certainly by far advanced in comparison to the typology of the lithic tools, and this can be deduced from several the uses on reliable hypotheses.

We can assume that the wooden tools were composed from several types of lances, different for diameter and length, according to the types of animals to hunt, (we know some pieces of lance); from different types of traps, without which large animals therefore could not be captured; tools of wood in order to dig graves and holes; from sleighs by hand or stretchers, in order to transport the killed animals or parts of animals, from the places of hunting to the room or slaughtering places, inasmuch as in the site dug the boneses of different species of animals are present; from equipments of wood in order to hang the meat to conserve, to defend or to essiccate.

With the lithic tools, wood poles were prepared in order to make huts, and this has been deduced from holes in the land made around zones holding hearths, lithic tools and boneses of animals, that is rests of food.

Since only with the hands it was not possible, with the lithic tools were cut trees, in pieces of the measures wished, in order to obtain firewood to burn in the hearths within the huts.
In consideration of the elevated degree of technology caught up in the working of the wood, it is hypothetical that it were shaped also some other equipment in order to make more pleasant the domestic life.

The known tips of lance in wood and bone, are pointed at cone, and have been made with tools of silex, and the quality is equal to that it could be obtained today with a steel knife.



With the lithic tools, wooden tools were made, that is strikers in order to produce lithic sculptures, and other lithic tools.

The wooden striker has been defined by the palethnologists "tender striker", in opposition to " the hard striker" constituted from a stone.

" The hard striker " was used for other uses, while " the tender striker " was used both in order to make lithic tools , and to whet again after the usury, in how much, with the retouches for the removal of flakes, the stone does not break off, while it is broken off using a hard striker, i.e. another stone.

Also for the production of sculptures, " the tender striker " allowed to remove modeling, without to break off undesired parts of the stone.

The "tender striker" is a piece of hard and short wood, gripped like a hammer, and it is used in the same way to remove long straight flakes of stone from the core.

It had to be produced, if round, in various diameters, more small for the small lithic artifacts, and larger for those of greater dimensions.

We do not know totally the techniques of use of the tender striker, but we known those that the palethnologists have used in order to make copies of some acheulean tools.

Never they have been made tests in order to make copies of acheulean sculptures.

For the sculptures with removals to the inside of the surface of the stone, the technique was various, that is, not removal of flakes hammering, but the use of the tender striker as a chisel, perhaps pointed, on which it was struck with an other striker.

About the tender striker, it is thinkable that it was not longer of the gripped part, but about its shape we know very little (the found strikers of bone are not indicative for the shape); we suppose instead that, from the shape of branches, cut in opportune way, could be gained wooden tools of every shape, also with the shape of a hammer of today.




The materials used by the man of the evolued Acheulean, therefore, are the stone and the wood; while the tools for the working are the lithic tools and the wooden strikers, that is the tender striker.

The lithic tools and the wooden striker are indivisible, in how much with the use they are deteriorated or they are broken off, and it is necessary to make others; and without one of the two, they could not be made, and this obviously in consideration of the high quality that had caught up, regarding the previous ages. It follows that the lithic tool and the wooden striker constituted, in the evolued Acheulean, a complex of equipments to always hold handily.



In the evolued Acheulean the lithic tools in order to cut and to work the wood (but also in order to cut skins, meat and other) was manufactured in series. No high production .

This technique of fabrication has been defined " levalloisian ", and consists in smoothing a stone, that takes the "core" name, from which were detached a sure number of flakes in order to making tools, and whose varied the number, according to the dimension of the used stone.

These lithic tools were used one for time, therefore the man made a supply of these.

We do not know if this production re-enters in a specialization, for which, who made them, bartered them with who did not know to make them, with foods or other.

However, the supplying concept existed with these levalloisian lithic tools, like with the meats of the great mammals; in fact it is difficult to imagine the hard work and the risk to kill a pachyderm, in order to eat meat a pair of times.



The man surely provisioned the firewood to burn in the hearth of his dwelling-place, both in order to cook foods, and for warming himself. It is unthinkable that, every time that the firewood was burnt, he exited from the dwelling-place in order to go to cut branches.

Assessed supplying is the lithic tools; deduced supplying is the foods, in particular the meat of the great mammals, and the firewood to burn; while assumed supplying could be the construction of lance and wooden strikers, in how much they are lost strength or broken off with the use.



Supplying re-enters in the social organization, like the hunting of group and the construction of a multifamiliar hut, and, at the same time, it allows greater spaces for the organized spiritual life, that is in communion with others members of the group.



The produced lithic sculptures for the cult rituals exist in the Pebble Culture, the Abbevillian, the ancient and middle Acheulean, but the lithic sculptures of the evolued Acheulean, like also the lithic tools, introduces a standard of greater quality, for the continuous use of " the tender striker ", not always existing in the previous periods.

In the Pebble Culture and the Abbevillian it was used " the hard striker "; in the ancient and middle Acheulean, it seems that they were used both the hard striker, and the tender striker; it seems that like tender striker, beyond to the wood, they were used also boneses of great mammals.

In the evolued Acheulean the continuous use of the tender striker has produced a much specialized technic, in fact the tests made by the palethnologists with the same type of " tender striker " have given tools of smaller quality regarding those acheulean. The progress and the quality of the art in the evolued Acheulean, like in all the Paleolithic, have not happened, as believed for the upper Paleolithic, for the fact that " has ignited a light in human intelligence ", but have happened for supplying of the resources, for the improvement of the social organization, for the technical new invention of production, that have allowed to the man of having, more and more, greater space for the spiritual life.





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