The embellishment of the acheulean amygdale, in our judgment, must take exclusively care of the shape and not of the color of the stone, in how much there are zones where the stones have beautiful colors, and are also multicolors, and other zones where they have an only ugly color, but the amygdales are equally beautiful of shape.
The concept of beauty of the shape, in our judgment, is based also on aesthetic appraisals, with parallels with other pure functional tools, that do not have some embellishment.
The beauty is (and was) in the processing of the shape, that in part is due to the functionality, and in part to aesthetic factors.
With respect to the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales , the representation can be more or less realistic; that it does not want to say less or more beautiful, however, the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales that I have seen, all have a good standard of quality.
It is necessary to keep in mind that in the amygdale the representation of every human head concerns alone the lateral profile of the head, from the forehead to the front part of the jaw; while in the amygdale type A3 and B4 in some cases the recess of the jaw is pointed out. Over to the heads, the tip of the amygdale sets itself up.
I know a single zoomorphic acheulean amygdale, that I have found 20 years ago in the inside of Rodi Garganico (Foggia, Italy). It represents a head of bird, similar to the duck .
The acheulean types of amygdales that are not anthropomorphic or zoomorphic are 15, with 15 different shapes, where the only variation is the dimension, that is every type can be longer or more short.
I define these 15 types of amygdales " multiforms ", for discriminate them from those anthropomorphic and zoomorphic.
The embellishment of the multiforms amygdale re-enters totally in the art, in how much it is the harmonious processing of a shape, and therefore it has many styles.
These styles are better understood in the figurative art, where a human head is made from every people in different way, that is in various style.
The artistic application of the amygdales can be subdivided, therefore, in figurative and abstract.
In the historical periods (but also in artefacts on bone and ivory of the upper Paleolithic) the abstract art in the decoration of the objects has two aspects:
- processing of a harmonious shape,
- graphical geometric.
As an example, a water jug of terracotta for the water can be painted with geometric shapes, and therefore there are two styles that re-enter in the abstractionism.
If the water jug is painted with figurative subjects, there is the commixtion of an abstract style with a figurative style.
As we will see more ahead, in the Acheulean they have been produced geometric decorations with the engraving technique on bone.
All the amygdales, comprised those anthropomorphic and zoomorphic, have geometric structural shapes, integrated with the technique of working, with the functionality, that is main reason of this tool, and with the artistic application.
The amygdales have been made in hard stone, and they do not are known amygdales that have been ulteriorly embellished with engravings of geometric shapes.
Fig. 18 Zoomorphic acheulean amygdale
Lenght cm. 12, widht cm. 6, height cm. 5, already seen in vertical position Fig. 1, 16, 17.
It represents a head of bird with along spout. Left lateral view drawing.
(see drawing Fig. 19).
Fig. 19 Zoomorphic acheulean amygdale
It represents a head of bird with along spout.
(drawing of the left lateral view: Fig. 18, with the eye, not existing in the amygdale, but it indicates the point in which it must be imagined in order to better understand the head of the represented bird).
Fig. 20 zoomorphic acheulean amygdale .
It represents a head of bird with along spout.
Right lateral view. (Back of the left lateral view: Fig. 18).
Fig.21 Fig. 22
Fig. 21 Zoomorphic acheulean amygdale
It represents a head of bird with along spout.
Fig. 22 Zoomorphic acheulean amygdale
It represents a head of bird with along spout.
(in this photography looks at the curving of the head of the represented bird, that corresponds to the maximum part of the grip of the amygdale).
HOW TO IDENTIFY ANTHROPOMORPHIC AND ZOOMORPHIC AMYGDALES
Between the lithic tools of the lower Paleolithic, the acheulean amygdale has been perhaps the most studied.
F. Bordes has proposed to find for every amygdale a series of measures: the maximum length, the maximum width, distance between length maximum and base, etc ( see A.Broglio, work cit.).
G. Camps has classified 19 types of amygdales.
The first amygdale was discovered in 1797 by John Frere at Hoxne (Suffolk).
In the hands of the palethnologists in two centuries of search, they are passed, probably, tens of thousands of amygdales, that have been studied.
At this point, correctly, the reader will wonder the reason for which they have not been identified zoomorphic and anthropomorphic amygdales.
It is a lawful question that deserves an answer.
In the 800's the palethnology shapes itself like science on the study of the lithic tools, and not on the paleolithic art, that will come discovered decades after, when the study on the tools will already well be well consolidated. It follows, that it is remained a tradition of exclusion of the art in a generalized manner.
Approximately 40 years ago, a palethnologist said to me that only we see the beauty of a amygdale, but it was not intentional (by the Acheuleans), in how much consequence of its functionality. Sure, this was the mentality then.
Today after the classifications by Camps, the functionality concept would have to be put in argument. As an example, the difference between the " triangular A1 " amygdale and " discoid A9 " amygdale is unfathomable. Therefore, functionality always, but also applied art!
A parallelism can be made on this type of difficulty with the interpretation of the paintings in cave of the upper Paleolithic, that, exceeded the diffidences of false of the end of the 800's, have been many. Some interpretations have been recognized from all, and others have not been, but by now nobody puts in doubt the authenticity of the paintings.
The authenticity of the amygdales cannot be put in doubt, while the interpretation of the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales remains .
The great Jacques Boucher de Perthes (1788 - 1868), who saw carved images everywhere, has not inquired on the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales, in how much he had subdivided his findings in industries and art; but perhaps, also why, in spite of the cultural vastness of his visions, to mix industries and art was not logical.
If the palethnologists in the second half of the 900's have not interpreted the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales, also having had the possibility, the reasons are at least two: 1°) why they are not put the problem; 2°) probably, why in some is rooted the conviction that the man of the Acheulean cannot give more.
It is not excluded that, still today, there are palethnologists, that viewing anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales, deny the evidence of these, with motivations that I cannot to preview.
To face this problem of interpretation, therefore, is an enterprise deprived of hope, but interesting, and then...... the science must go ahead.
I have seen some tens of anthropomorphic amygdales, approximately 25 - 35 years ago, in several small French museums of province, that exposed much amygdales.
Who wants to document himself and to make search, must have entry to the laboratories and to the warehouses of the museums, why with the new museographic concepts, less and less are exposed.
In Italy, one of the more important museums of prehistory, in which as young person I had seen in the display windows much amygdales (then I did not imagine that could exist anthropomorphic amygdales), I have visited it recently, and in the display windows not there were amygdales, but only a pair of copies.
These copies, I think that are made in chalk, and then they are painted; therefore, the working traces are not looked at, and no more the parts that, eventually, have not been worked, the cutting wire is not looked at, and the amygdale appears rounded off. From a copy, it is difficult to establish if a amygdale is anthropomorphic or not.
The search can be lead also on drawings and photographies that are found on the books.
The drawing, if it is done good, allows to detect a anthropomorphic amygdale; however, if the drawinger does not know that it is anthropomorphic, does not place the accent on small particulars , and this diminishes the evidence of it. However, before characterizing a anthropomorphic amygdale from a drawing on a palethnology book, it is necessary to have seen at least one, and better still to have had one in hand.
The location in the color photograph is easier, but not always.
THE AMYGDALE IN THE CULT RITUALS
Also the palethnologists have a " heart " tied to the aesthetic, therefore, when they find a amygdale, it is more and more moving of when they find small tools on flake; also because these are numerous, while the amygdales are rare. For this, it is lawful to ask to himself, the reason for which the man has stopped to make amygdales, and has not stopped to make the tools on flake that he has always made, and that we find in all the successive civilizations of the Paleolithic.
I believe that in the human activities it does not exist, in tightened sense, neither an origin neither a fine.
I assume, that in the evolued Acheulean, towards its end, the amygdale began to enter in disuse for simply utilitarian aims, but conserving its importance in the cult rituals. This hypothesis is based on the production of the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales, whose subjects: head of animal, human head and bi-faced human head, are lend to the hypothesis of cult subjects. It is assessed that the cults last more to along of the technique.
On the use of the amygdale in the ritual, I make a parallelism with the propulsors of javelins made from horn of reindeer in the magdalenian, considering the two more famous. One comes from the cave of the Trois Frères (Ariège) and is a sculpture much realistic that represents two wild goats that are fighting with extraordinary energy; the other is the " fawn with the birds ", uncovered in 1941 by Saint-Just Péquart in the Mas d' Azil: " a young fawn, pointing himself with force on four legs, turns the head towards its posterior part, while the raised tail, expels from a sphincter extraordinarily expanded a voluminous excrement, where are settling two little birds "(R.Furon).
It remains difficult to me to imagine that propulsors of much beauty and descriptive force, were used in order to go hunting on mounts a lot impervious, that are around to the zone of the caves, and, this, also considering the Magdalenians, men a lot refined.
I suppose, instead, that these propulsors were used for competitions, game, ceremonies, or rituals of cult.
Same supposition also for the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic amygdales of the Acheulean, in how much, even if the artistic quality is lower, the engagement that the man has used in the realization, is equivalent to the productions of the Magdalenian.
ORIGIN, CONTEMPORANEITY AND TRANSFORMATION OF THE ANTHROPOMORPHIC AMYGDALES
To establish if a amygdale is anthropomorphic or zoomorphic is relatively easy, if the problem is faced, in how much is looked at clearly, and the judgment is individual. Obviously, for greater reassurances, or in order to establish a typology, they are necessary more amygdales of the same type, and also more opinions to favor.
Greater difficulties are met, in order to face other anthropomorphic and zoomorphic problems that the amygdales involve, in the same moment in which all the interested ones (or nearly) are of agreement on their validity. These are problems, that the single investigator cannot resolve, even if he is a valid detective of the Paleolithic, but they can be only resolved with the job increased of many palethnologists, also through diggings. The two main problems to resolve are:
1) To verify if, in a sure territory, the makers of a sure type of multiforms amygdales (applied abstract art) produced also anthropomorphic or zoomorphic amygdales (figurative applied art ). This can allows to us with greater emergency to assume if the anthropomorphic or zoomorphic amygdales were used in cult rituals.
2) To establish if some multiforms amygdales (applied abstract art ) derive from some anthropomorphic types of amygdales (applied figurative art ).
This could be an inverse process not to neglect in the search, in how much the hypothesis of transformation of the amygdale, from anthropomorphic (A3 - A4) to triangular (A1 - A2) could be motivated from a subject of cult abandoned for other cults, and therefore the necessity of the anthropomorphic representation on the amygdale breaks.
According to my studies on the representative anthropomorphic sculpture of the lower Paleolithic (that are extraneous from this paper), I believe that the anthropomorphic amygdales could have been produced for all the Acheulean, in consideration that it has been also the anthropomorphic sculptures, in western Europe.
THE END OF THE AMYGDALE
In archaeological search generally the end is known, but not the origin; with the acheulean amygdale it happens the contrary, in how much we know the origin, and we do not know the end, and no more the causes of the end.
The acheulean amygdale derivates from the abbevillian amygdale , that in its turn derives from the olduvaiano chopping-tool .
The greater part of the acheulean amygdales, in particular those of the final Acheulean, are therefore so beautiful, than they can be considered pure art.
In the Abbevillian, however, there are amygdales, that for proportions and general structure, already make to foresee a sense of the " good taste ", that was not present in the previous ones chopping-tools, and in that made in parallel with the amygdales.
The causes of the end of the amygdale must be resolved with statistical data of digging. However, the problem could also be resolved, at least partially, characterizing tools, whose use was better of the amygdales, that is to make search on the use, even if the tool still has not been characterized. This in consideration of the fact that the man has always had, even if slowly, a technical progress.
THE ABSTRACT DECORATION WITH THE GEOMETRIC GRAPHIC
As it is known, in the history of the humanity, the sculpture is been born before the painting.
The lithic sculpture has been closely tied, in the technology, to the production of the tools, since the origins of the Man.
The geometric graphic begins with the recording, in order to become drawing, and, after, drawing painted, until the splendid paintings of the Magdalenian, and until our days.
The abstract decoration with geometric graphic never stopped to exist.
The first manifestations of geometric engravings come from the Acheulean, and are much simple, but they demonstrate that the man through the technical new invention succeeded to express some desires.
In the layer of Bilzingsleben, in Germany, they have been found two acheulean artefacts of which the use is not known, constituted from a fragment of tibia and a rib of elephant. These two objects show intentional engravings. The more interesting of these is the tibia fragment that shows a surface with seven divergent engravings to the center and two groups of seven engravings everyone, arranged symmetricalally, laterally (see for the image: A.Broglio, work cit.).
These findings have been dated between 350,000 and 220,000 years.
On the ornamentale art of the person in the Acheulean we do not know nothing, in how much have not been found interments. No more a pierced tooth, like, instead, has been found in abundance in the successive periods; therefore, we do not know if already holes in the bone and the wood were made, in how much there are not findings.
The analysis of the art applied to the tools develops itself totally on the typology of the amygdales, where numerically predominates the amygdale multishapes, followed from the anthropomorphic amygdale and from that zoomorphic.
The findings at disposition are most numerous, in how much they are two centuries that amygdales are collected, and the prehistory museums are full of these.
They remain to make assessments on immense scale, on these findings, in order to assess amount and anthropomorphic and zoomorphic typology of the amygdales, and probably it will be a numerous typology.
It is possible to make it because the material exists.
Greater difficulties exist in the study of the engravings of the Acheulean, in how much those at disposition are little, nearly nothing, and it is not easy to find others.
The Acheulean, at least until a subdivision in local facies (also following the typology of the amygdales) remains, regarding the successive civilizations, the civilization that has greater geographic distribution and greater duration.
We have seen that the " traditions " of the art applied to the Paleolithic, after the Acheulean, are two: one that exists with the Solutrean and the Magdalenian (that can be divided in other two " traditions ", in how much the Solutrean has applied abstract art on stone, while the Magdalenian has applied figurative art on bone), and a " tradition " that does not exist, in how much does not have art applied to the tools, and comprises the Mousterian, the Aurignacian, the Gravettian and the Azilian.
The origin of the decorativa art is in the Acheulean, but this origin goes understood like an ensemble of origins, different in the time and in the space, regarding (in varied measure applied art and ornamentale art) the Mousterian, the Aurignacian, the Gravettian, the Solutrean, the Magdalenian and the Azilian.
These civilizations, that are those that better we know, in fact, are followed (in Europe) in chronological order, but NOT in order of cultural evolution.
If the palethnologists will arrive to establish the several civilizations that have constituted the Acheulean in the planet, it is possible to find the origin of the civilizations of the middle Paleolithic and the upper Paleolithic.
It is an interpretation work, in which the have remarkable importance.
It is necessary to make also a work of review on the findings of the middle Paleolithic and the upper Paleolithic, in how much, there are civilizations that sure have been coupled to others under an only denomination.
It would have to be succeeded in to identify more civilizations, that are evolued in parallel, and that have their origins in the Acheulean.
As an example, I am convinced that in the Magdalenian who made the zoomorphic paintings in cave, and who made applied figurative art with sculptures on propulsors of bone, were two different civilizations, also why, in the ethnography, who paints on the walls, he does not have applied art on bone, and viceversa (Australian Bushman, Aboriginals, Eskimos, etc). A third civilization of the time of the Magdalenians, dated 14.000 years, is that one of El Juyo (Santander, Spain) that has given a bi-faced zooanthropomorphic lithic sculpture, completely different for cultural tradition from the others identified in France.
To identify new civilization of the Paleolithic is an interpretation work on existing material.
A civilization in the upper Paleolithic can have its territories of hunting neighbors with an other civilization, with which can be exchanges with respect to the acquisition of new technologies, but not exchanges with respect to the cult rituals, and therefore the art.
It is possible that two paleolithic civilizations have similar industries, and different cults and art. Consequently search, and interpretation, must be based, beyond that on the lithic industries, also on the art.
The origin of the decorative art is in the Acheulean.
They remain to detect the connections with the decorative art of the successive civilizations.
BORDES, F.,(1968, L'antica età della pietra, Il Saggiatore, Milano
BROGLIO, A., (1998), Introduzione al Paleolitico, Laterza, Roma - Bari
CAMPUS, G.,(1979), Manuel de recherches préhistoriques, Doin, Paris