Ritorno a capo automatico acheulean tools



Pietro Gaietto

The study of the tools and sculpture of the evolued Acheulean is not an end in itself, as the study of equipment or art of our times, but requires knowledge of all the aspects of the life of the man of the Acheulean, that are not many. Some concern the material life, others the spiritual one.

On the studies of the spiritual life it is necessary to distinguish what is important, as scientific, from what is not.

About the spirituality of the man of the lower Paleolithic, from very little clues, 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, art, religions and thought, but it is inspired generally to new creationism concepts.

To the contrary of the the " spirituality-fiction", that now counts a very vast literature, for the Paleolithic, a literature of " culture-fiction " does not exist, probably because there are not interests to treat the topic, but I believe that, if it existed, it would be interesting, pleasant and useful to do understanding better the prehistory to the great public, and maybe to approach to the palethnology some young people.

When I was in my early twenties, and had begun the search of the paleolithic sculpture, at Genoa were 5 or 6 palethnologists; with them, I did not agree, because they did not want to listen about this art, indeed they laughed; and to be together they had to speak only about tools and bones of animals, that they had found in the diggings. Today these persons are not there more; they are dead all of age; but I regret them, in how much in my city there are not more palethnologists.

Evidently, there is a decrease of interest towards palethnology in the city of Genoa and in Liguria; to the contrary, I was told that, in Japan, palethnology is of great actuality, not only in the research, but also by the vast public.

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

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

Deductions and correct assumptions should always be made in palethnology.

If in the excavations of a upper Paleolithic site we find a needle in bone, we can deduce that it was used to sew clothes, even if the clothes have not been found.

If in a hut there are two hearths, we can deduce that the man carried there the wood in pieces, which he chopped, and of which he had a reserve.

It is diffuse opinion that of the evolued Acheulean all the industries are known, but it is not at all true; our knowledge is much incomplete.

We know all the typology of the lithic industry, but not the wood industry, in how much has not been conserved; but of the wood 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, killed and butchered elephants, rhinos, horses, aurochs, megaceros, bears, deer, as evidenced by the remains of bones found in excavations.
Small lithic tools were not appropriate for killing animals, but to produce wooden tools and equipment for 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 the several uses on reliable hypotheses.

We can hypothesize that the wooden tools were composed of various types of spears, different in diameter and length, according to the types of animals to be hunted (some pieces of spears are known); of different types of traps, without which such large animals could not be captured; of wooden tools for digging pits and holes; from hand sleds or stretchers, to transport the killed animals or parts of animals, from hunting places to slaughtering or dwelling places, since in the excavated sites there are bones of animals of different species; from wooden equipment to hang the meat to preserve, to defend or to desiccate.

With lithic tools, wooden poles were made to make huts, and this was inferred from holes in the ground made around areas that contained hearths, lithic tools, and animal bones, i.e., food remains.

Since it was not possible to do this with just one's hands, lithic tools were used to cut trees into pieces of the desired size in order to obtain firewood for the fireplaces inside the huts.
Given the high degree of technology achieved in woodworking, it is conceivable that some other equipment was also made to make domestic life more pleasant.

The known wood and bone spearheads are pointed cone-shaped, and were made with flint tools, and the quality is equal to what could be obtained today with a steel knife.

With the lithic tools were made tools of wood, that is strikers to produce lithic sculptures, and other lithic tools.

The wooden striker has been called a "tender striker"soft by palethnologists, in contrast to the "soft hard striker"soft consisting of a stone.

" The hard striker " was used for other uses, while " the tender striker " was used both to make lithic tools , and to resharpen them after the usury, in how much with the retouchings for the removal of the flakes the stone doesn' t break, while it breaks using a hard striker, that is another stone.

Also for the production of sculptures, the striker " tender striker striker " allowed to remove by shaping, without breaking unwanted parts of the stone.

The "tender striker" is a short piece of hard wood, which is gripped like a hammer, and is used in the same way for the removal of stone chips.

It had to be produced, if round, in different diameters, smaller for small lithic artifacts, and larger for larger ones.

We do not know fully the techniques of use of tender striker, but we know the ones used by the palethnologists in order to make copies of some Acheulean tools.

Never have been made attempts to make copies of Acheulean sculptures.

For sculptures having removals inside the surface of the stone, the technique was different, that is, not removal of flakes by hammering, but the use of the tender striker as a chisel, perhaps pointed, on which it was beaten with another striker.

It is possible that the tender striker was not longer than the part held, but very little is known about its shape (the strikers in bone found are not informative for the shape); we suppose instead that, from the shape of the branches, cut in an appropriate way, it was possible to obtain wooden tools of any shape, even with the shape of today's hammer.

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 wood striker, that is the tender striker.

Lithic tools and wood striker are indissociable, in how much with the use they deteriorate or they break, 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 they had reached in comparison to the previous ages. It follows that the lithic tool and the wood striker constituted, in evolued Acheulean, a complex of equipments to have always handy.

In the evolved Acheulean the lithic tools for cutting and working the wood (but also for cutting skins, meat and more) were manufactured in series. This was not a large production.

This technique of manufacture has been defined "levalloisian", and consists in flattening a stone, that is named "core", from which a certain number of flakes are detached to make tools, and whose amount varies according to the size of the stone used.

These lithic tools were used one for time, therefore the man made himself a reserve.

We do not know if this production was part of a specialization, so who made them, exchanged them with who did not know how to make them, with food or other things.

However, the concept of supplying existed with these Levalloisian lithic tools, as with the meats of the great mammals; in fact it is difficult to imagine the fatigue and the risk to kill a pachyderm, to eat meat one or two times.

Man certainly supplied the firewood to burn in the hearth of his hut, both to cook food and to warm himself. It is unthinkable that, every time the wood was burned, he left the hut to go and cut branches.

The ascertained supply are the lithic tools; the inferred supply are the foods, especially the meat of large mammals, and firewood; while the hypothesized supply could be the fabrication of wooden spears and strikers, as they deteriorate or break with use.

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

Lithic sculptures produced for the cult rituals exist in the Pebble Culture, the Abbevillian, the ancient and middle Acheulean, but the stone sculptures of the evolued Acheulean, as also the lithic tools, have a greater standard of quality, due to the continuous use of the " tender striker", that did not exist ( ever ) 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 both the hard striker and the tender one were used; it seems that as tender striker, in addition to the wood, also bones of great mammals were used.

In the evolued Acheulean the continuous use of the tender striker has produced a technique much specialized, insomuch the proofs made by the paletnologists with the same type of " tender striker" have given tools of less quality than the Acheulean ones.

The progress and the quality of art in the evolued Acheulean, like in all the Paleolithic, have not happened, like it is thought for the Upper Paleolithic, because " a light in human intelligence is turned on ", but happened for the supplying of the resources, for the improvement of the social organization, for the invention of new techniques of production, that have allowed to the man to have, more and more, greater space for his spiritual life.



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