Middle Palaeolithic lithic tools: Techno-functional and use-wear analysis of target objects from SU 13 at the Oscurusciuto rock shelter, Southern Italy

  • Giulia Marciani Università degli Studi di Ferrara
  • Simona Arrighi Università degli Studi di Siena
  • Daniele Aureli Università degli Studi di Siena
  • Vincenzo Spagnolo Università degli Studi di Siena
  • Paolo Boscato Università degli Studi di Siena
  • Annamaria Ronchitelli Università degli Studi di Siena
Keywords: technical behaviour; techno-functional approach; use-wear analysis; Middle Palaeolithic; Neanderthals; western Europe

Abstract


The Oscurusciuto rock shelter (Ginosa, Puglia, southern Italy) is a Middle Palaeolithic site characterized by a significant stratigraphy made up by several anthropic levels. The stratigraphic unit 13, consisting of a sandy compact deposit mixed with pyroclastic sediment, is a short palimpsest situated on a layer of tephra, identified as Mt. Epomeo green tuff (dated Ar/Ar ~ 55 ka BP).

From a technological point of view, the aims of the production were backed flakes, convergent flakes, and other flakes obtained by means of a Levallois debitage, plus (less represented) bladelets produced by an additional volumetric reduction system.

Our aim in this research was to examine a selection of the above-mentioned target objects produced by debitage in order to understand the manufacture and life-cycle of each single tool from a dynamic perspective.

We integrated techno-functional and use-wear analyses: the first was implemented to globally comprehend each tool, identifying each single techno-functional unity (prehensile and transformative portions), whereas the second revealed the way in which these tools had been used, proceeding to identify the activity involved (e.g., piercing, cutting and/or scraping), and the type of material (vegetable/animal, soft/hard) on which these activities had been carried out.

The combined use of these two approaches allows us to ascertain the intention of the prehistoric craftsmen, the gestures and procedures involved in making the tools, and the way they had been used. From one single object we are thus able to reconstruct a series of complex behaviours, encompassing the creation, the life-cycle and finally the ‘death’ or repurposing of the tool in question.

Author Biographies

Giulia Marciani, Università degli Studi di Ferrara

Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici
Sezione di Scienze Preistoriche e Antropologiche
Università degli Studi di Ferrara
C.so Ercole I d'Este 32
44100 Ferrara
Italy

Department of History, History of Art
Universitat Rovira I Virgili Tarragona
Av. Catalunya, 35
43002 Tarragona
Spain

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente
UR Preistoria e Antropologia
Università degli Studi di Siena
Strada Laterina 8
53100 Siena
Italy

Simona Arrighi, Università degli Studi di Siena

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente
UR Preistoria e Antropologia
Università degli Studi di Siena
Strada Laterina 8
53100 Siena
Italy

Dipartimento di Beni Culturali
Università di Bologna
Via degli Ariani 1
48121 Ravenna
Italy

Daniele Aureli, Università degli Studi di Siena

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente
UR Preistoria e Antropologia
Università degli Studi di Siena
Strada Laterina 8
53100 Siena
Italy

Dipartimento di Beni Culturali
Università di Bologna
Via degli Ariani 1
48121 Ravenna
Italy

UMR 7041 ArScAn équipe AnTET
21 Allée de l’Université
F 92023 Nanterre
France

Vincenzo Spagnolo, Università degli Studi di Siena

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente
UR Preistoria e Antropologia
Università degli Studi di Siena
Strada Laterina 8
53100 Siena
Italy

Paolo Boscato, Università degli Studi di Siena

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente
UR Preistoria e Antropologia
Università degli Studi di Siena
Strada Laterina 8
53100 Siena
Italy

Annamaria Ronchitelli, Università degli Studi di Siena

Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente
UR Preistoria e Antropologia
Università degli Studi di Siena
Strada Laterina 8
53100 Siena
Italy

References

Abruzzese, C., Aureli, D. & Rocca, R. 2016, Assessment of the Acheulean in Southern Italy: New study on the Atella site (Basilicata, Italy). Quaternary International, 393: 158-168. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.06.005
Allen, J.R.M.M., Watts, W.A. & Huntley, B. 2000, Weichselian palynostratigraphy, palaeovegetation and palaeoenvironment; the record from Lago Grande di Monticchio, southern Italy. Quaternary International, 73-74: 91-110. doi:10.1016/s1040-6182(00)00067-7
Arrighi, S., Bazzanella, M., Boschin, F. & Wierer, U. 2016, How to make and use a bone “spatula”. An experimental program based on the Mesolithic osseous assemblage of Galgenbühel/Dos de la Forca (Salurn/Salorno, BZ, Italy). Quaternary International, 423: 143-165. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.114
Aureli, D., Contardi, A., Giaccio, B., Jicha, B., Lemorini, C., Madonna, S., Magri, D., Marano, F., Milli, S., Modesti, V., Palombo, M.R. & Rocca, R. 2015, Palaeoloxodon and human interaction: Depositional setting, chronology and archaeology at the Middle Pleistocene Ficoncella site (Tarquinia, Italy). PLoS One, 10(4): e0124498 (27 p.). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124498
Aureli, D., Rocca, R., Lemorini, C., Modesti, V., Scaramucci, S., Milli, S., Giaccio, B., Marano, F., Palombo, M.R. & Contardi, A. 2016, Mode 1 or mode 2? “Small tools” in the technical variability of the European Lower Palaeolithic: The site of Ficoncella (Tarquinia, Lazio, central Italy). Quaternary International, 393: 169-184. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.07.055
Baena Preysler, J., Torres Navas, C., Pérez Díaz, S., Bustos-Pérez, G. & Romagnoli, F. 2016, To grip or not to grip: an experimental approach for understanding the use of prehensile areas in Mousterian tools. Boletín de Arqueología Experimental, 11: 200-218. doi:10.15366/baexuam2016.11
Boëda, E. 1992, Approche de la variabilité des systèmes de production lithique des industries du Paléolithique inférieur et moyen : Chronologie d’une variabilité attendue. Technique et Culture, 17-18: 37-79. (in French) (“Approach to the variability of the lithic production systems of the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic industries: Chronology of an expected variability”) doi:10.4000/tc.685
Boëda, E. 1993, Le débitage discoïde et le débitage Levallois récurrent centripède. Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 90(6): 392-404. (in French) (“Discoid debitage and recurrent centripetal Levallois debitage”) doi:10.3406/bspf.1993.9669
Boëda, E. 1994, Le concept Levallois: Variabilité des méthodes (1st ed.). Monographie du CRA Vol. 9. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Paris, 280 p. (in French) (“The Levallois concept: Variability of methods”)
Boëda, E. 1995, Levallois: A volumetric construction, methods, a technique. In: The definition and interpretation of Levallois technology (Dibble, H.L. & Bar-Yosef, O., Eds.), Monographs in World Archaeology Vol. 23, Prehistory Press, Madison: p. 41-68.
Boëda, E. 1997, Technogenèse de systèmes de production lithique au Paléolithique inférieur et moyen en Europe occidentale et au Proche-Orient. Habilitation à diriger des recherches thesis at Université Paris X-Nanterre, Nanterre, 2 Vol., 173 p., 86 p. p. (in French) (“Technogenesis of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic lithic production systems in western Europe and the Near East”)
Boëda, E. 2001, Determination des unites techno-fonctionnelles de pieces bifaciales provenant de la couche acheuleenne C’3 base du site de Barbas I. In: Les industries à outils bifaciaux du Paléolithique moyen d’Europe occidentale, Actes de la table ronde organisée à Caen (Basse-Normandie - France), 14 et 15 octobre 1999 (Cliquet, D., Ed.), Université de Liège, Liège: p. 51-75. (in French) (“Determination of the techno-functional units of bifacial pieces from the C 3 base acheuleenne base of the Barbas I site”)
Boëda, E. 2013, Techno-logique & technologie: Une paléo-histoire des objets lithiques tranchants. Archéo-éditions, Prigonrieux, 266 p. (in French) (“Techno-logic & technology: A paleo-history of sharp lithic objects”)
Boëda, E., Bonilauri, S., Kaltnecker, E., Valladas, H. & Al-Sakhel, H. 2015, Un débitage lamellaire au Proche-Orient vers 40 000 ans cal BP : Le site d’Umm el Tlel, Syrie centrale. Anthropologie (France), 119(2): 141-169. (in French) (“A bladelet production to the Near-East about 40 000 (cal BP) years ago: The site of Umm el Tlel, central Syria”) doi:10.1016/j.anthro.2015.04.001
Bonilauri, S. 2010, Les outils du Paléolithique moyen : une mémoire technique oubliée ? Approche techno-fonctionnelle appliquée à un assemblage lithique de conception Levallois provenant du site d’Umm el Tlel (Syrie centrale). Doctorat en Préhistoire thesis at the École doctorale Milieux, cultures et sociétés du passé et du présent (Nanterre), Université Paris X- Nanterre, Nanterre, 469 p. (in French) (“Middle Palaeolithic tools: A forgotten technical memory? Techno-functional approach applied to a lithic assemblage of Levallois design from the site of Umm el Tlel (Central Syria)”) URL: http://www.theses.fr/2010PA100183
Boscato, P. 2017, Ambienti ed economia nel Paleolitico medio della Puglia: lo studio delle faune. In: Preistoria e Protostoria della Puglia. Atti della XLVII Riunione Scientifica IIPP, Ostuni (BR), 9-13 ottobre 2012 (Radina, F., Ed.), Studi di Preistoria e Protostoria Vol. 4, Istituto Italiano di Preistoria e Protostoria, Florence: p. 119-124. (in Italian) (“Environments and economy in the Middle Paleolithic of Puglia: The study of faunas”)
Boscato, P. & Crezzini, J. 2012, Middle-Upper Palaeolithic transition in Southern Italy: Uluzzian macromammals from Grotta del Cavallo (Apulia). Quaternary International, 252: 90-98. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2011.03.028
Boscato, P., Gambassini, P., Ranaldo, F. & Ronchitelli, A. 2011, Management of Palaeoenvironmental Resources and Exploitation of Raw Materials at the Middle Paleolithic site of Oscurusciuto (Ginosa, Southern Italy): Units 1 and 4. In: Neanderthal Lifeways, Subsistence and Technology (Conard, N.J. & Richter, J., Eds.), Springer, Dordrecht: p. 87-98. doi:10.1007/978-94-007-0415-2_9
Brantingham, P.J. & Kuhn, S.L.S.L.S.L. 2001, Constraints on Levallois Core Technology: A Mathematical Model. Journal of Archaeological Science, 28(7): 747-761. doi:10.1006/jasc.2000.0594
Da Costa, A. 2017, Rupture technique et dynamiques d’ocupation au cours de l’Holocène moyen au Brésil. Doctorate thesis at the École doctorale Milieux, cultures et sociétés du passé et du présent (Nanterre), Université Paris X- Nanterre, Nanterre, 406 p. (in French) (“Technical break and occupation dynamics in Brazil during middle Holocene”) URL: http://www.theses.fr/s32872
van Gijn, A.L. 2010, Flint in focus: Lithic biographies in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Sidestone Press, Leiden, 289 p.
Keeley, L.H. 1980, Experimental determination of stone tools uses: A microwear analysis. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 226 p.
Lemorini, C. 2000, Reconnaître des tactiques d’exploitation du milieu au Paléolithique Moyen: La contribution de l’analyse fonctionnelle: Etude fonctionnelle des industries lithiques de Grotta Breuil (Latium, Italie) et de La Combette (Bonnieux, Vaucluse, France). British archaeological Reports - International Series Vol. 858. Archaeopress, Oxford 142 p. (in French) (“Recognising Middle Palaeolithic exploitation tactics: The contribution of functional analysis: Functional study of the lithic industries of Grotta Breuil (Lazio, Italy) and La Combette (Bonnieux, Vaucluse, France)”)
Lepot, M. 1993, Approche techno-fonctionnelle de l’outillage moustérien : essai de classification des parties actives en termes d’efficacité technique. Mémoire de Maîtrise thesis at Université Paris X- Nanterre, Nanterre, 170 p., 90 pl. p. (in French) (“Techno-functional approach to Mousterian tools: Attempt at classification of active parts in terms of technical efficiency”)
Leroi Gourhan, A. 1973, Mileu et techniques (1973 ed.). Evolution et techniques. Editions Albin Michel, Paris, 475 p. (in French) (“Environment and techniques”)
Lourdeau, A. 2010, Le tecnocomplexe Itaparica: définition Techno-funcionnelle des industries unifacialement à une face plane dans le centre et le nord-est du Brésil pendant la transition Pléistocène-Holocène et l’Holocène ancien. Doctorat en Préhistoire thesis at the École doctorale Milieux, cultures et sociétés du passé et du présent (Nanterre), Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Nanterre, 477 p. (in French) (“The Itaparica tecnocomplex: Techno-funcional definition of unifacially industries on a flat face in central and north-eastern Brazil during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and the early Holocene”) URL: http://www.theses.fr/2010PA100190
Lourdeau, A. 2015, Lithic Technology and Prehistoric Settlement in Central and Northeast Brazil: Definition and Spatial Distribution of the Itaparica Technocomplex. PaleoAmerica, 1(1): 52-67. doi:10.1179/2055556314z.0000000005
Lucas, L.d.O. 2014, Mudanças técnicas da transição Pleistoceno-Holoceno ao Holoceno Médio no interior do Nordeste: indústrias líticas da sequência arqueológica da Toca do João Leite - PI. Mestrado - Arqueologia thesis at the Centro de Ciências Humanas - Programa de Pós-Graduação em Arqueologia, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, 164 p. (in Portuguese) (“Technical changes of the Pleistocene-Holocene transition to the Middle Holocene in the interior of the Northeast: Lithic industries of the archaeological sequence of the Toca do João Leite - PI”) URL: https://repositorio.ufpe.br/handle/123456789/17181
Lycett, S.J. & Eren, M.I. 2013, Levallois economics: An examination of ‘waste’ production in experimentally produced Levallois reduction sequences. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(5): 2384-2392. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2013.01.016
Marciani, G. 2013, The lithic assemblage of the US 13 at the Middle Paleolithic site of Oscurusciuto ( Ginosa , Taranto , Southern Italy): Technological studies. Master Erasmus Mundus em Quaternário e Pré-História thesis at the Departamento de Geologia da UTAD & Departamento de Território, Arqueologia e Património do IPT, Instituto Politécnico de Tomar & Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Tomar & Vila Real, 163 p. URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10400.26/6019
Marciani, G., Spagnolo, V., Aureli, D., Ranaldo, F., Boscato, P. & Ronchitelli, A. 2016, Middle Palaeolithic technical behaviour: Material import- export and Levallois production at the SU 13 of Oscurusciuto rock shelter, Southern Italy. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(2): 1-24. doi:10.2218/jls.v3i2.1414
Moretti, E., Arrighi, S., Boschin, F., Crezzini, J., Aureli, D. & Ronchitelli, A. 2015, Using 3D microscopy to analyze experimental cut marks on animal bones produced with different stone tools. Ethnobiology Letters, 6(2): 267-275. doi:10.14237/ebl.6.2.2015.349
Odell, G.H. 1981, The Mechanics of Use-Breakage of Stone Tools: Some Testable Hypotheses. Journal of Field Archaeology, 8(2): 197-209. doi:10.1179/009346981791505120
Odell, G.H. & Odell-Vereecken, F. 1980, Verifying the Reliability of Lithic Use-Wear Assessments by ‘Blind Tests’: the Low-Power Approach. Journal of Field Archaeology, 7(1): 87-120. doi:10.1179/009346980791505545
Pedergnana, A. 2017, Microwear and residue analyses of quartzite stone tools. Experimental development of a method and its application to the assemblages from the Pleistocene sites of Gran Dolina-TD10 (Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain) and Payre (Ardèche, France). Doctoral thesis at the Departament d’Història i Història de l’Art, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, 803 p. URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10803/454729
Van Peer, P. 1992, The Levallois reduction strategy. Monographs in world archaeology Vol. 13. Prehistory Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 137 p.
Plisson, H. 1985, Etude fonctionnelle d’outillages lithiques préhistoriques par l’analyse des micro-usures: recherche méthodologique et archéologique. Doctorat thesis at Université de Paris I, Paris, 357 p. (in French) (“Functional study of prehistoric lithic tools using micro-wear analysis: Methodological and archaeological research”) URL: http://www.sudoc.fr/006727174 and https://www.academia.edu/1225018/
Plisson, H. 2007, La fonction des outils de silex dans les grottes ornées paléolithiques. In: Un siècle de construction du discours scientifique en préhistoire: Congrès du centenaire de la Société préhistorique française Vol. 3 (Evin, J., Ed.), Société Préhistorique Française, Paris: p. 125-132. (in French) (“The function of flint tools in Palaeolithic decorated caves”) URL: http://www.pacea.u-bordeaux.fr/IMG/pdf/La_fonction_des_outils_de_silex_dans_les_grottes_ornees_paleolithiques.pdf and https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00223017
Ramsey, C.B. & Lee, S. 2013, Recent and planned developments of the program OxCal. Radiocarbon, 55(2): 720-730. doi:10.1017/s0033822200057878
Ranaldo, F. 2005, Il Musteriano del riparo l’Oscurusciuto nella gravina di Ginosa (TA): Studio tecnico e tipologico dell’industria litica dell’US1. Tesi di laurea thesis at the Laura Specialistica di II Livello in Archeologia. Facoltà di lettere e filosofia Siena, Università degli Studi di Siena, Siena, 171 p. (in Italian) (“The Mousterian of the Oscurusciuto rock shelter in the ravine of Ginosa (TA): Technical and typological study of the lithic industry of the US 1”)
Ranaldo, F. 2017, L’arco ionico pugliese tra la fine del Paleolitico medio e gli esordi del Paleolitico superiore: problemi e prospettive di ricerca per la ricostruzione dei sistemi antropici. In: Preistoria E Protostoria Della Puglia (Radina, F., Ed.), Studi di preistoria e protostoria Vol. 4, IstitutoIitaliano di Preistoria e Protostoria, Florence: p. 53-60. (in Italian) (“The Apulian Ionic arch between the end of the Middle Palaeolithic and the beginnings of the Upper Paleolithic: Problems and perspectives of research for the reconstruction of anthropic systems”)
Reimer, P.J., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Blackwell, P.G., Ramsey, C.B., Buck, C.E., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Friedrich, M., Grootes, P.M., Guilderson, T.P., Haflidason, H., Hajdas, I., Hatté, C., Heaton, T.J., Hoffmann, D.L., Hogg, A.G., Hughen, K.A., Kaiser, K.F., Kromer, B., Manning, S.W., Niu, M., Reimer, R.W., Richards, D.A., Scott, E.M., Southon, J.R., Staff, R.A., Turney, C.S.M. & van der Plicht, J. 2013, IntCal13 and Marine13 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves 0-50,000 Years cal BP. Radiocarbon, 55(4): 1869-1887. doi:10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16947
Rocca, R. 2013, Peut-on définir des aires culturelles au Paléolithique inférieur ? Originalité des premières industries lithiques en Europe centrale dans le cadre du peuplement de l’Europe. Doctorat en Préhistoire thesis at the École doctorale Milieux, cultures et sociétés du passé et du présent (Nanterre), Université Paris X- Nanterre, Nanterre, 563 p. (in French) (“Can we define cultural areas during the Lower Palaeolithic? Originality of the first lithic industries in central Europe, in the framework of the first settlements in Europe”) URL: http://www.theses.fr/2013PA100060
Ronchitelli, A., Ferguglia, M., Longo, L., Moroni, A. & Ranaldo, F. 2011, Studio tecno-funzionale dei supporti a morfologia triangolare dell’US 8 del Riparo L’Oscurusciuto (Ginosa - Taranto). Rivista di Scienze Preistoriche, 61(5-20): 22-22. (in Italian) (“Techno-functional analysis of triangular tools from layer 8 of the Oscurusciuto Rock Shelter (Ginosa, Taranto - southern Italy)”)
Rots, V. 2010, Prehension and Hafting Traces on Flint Tools. A Methodology. Leuven University Press, Leuven, 296 p. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qf05s
Schlanger, N. 1996, Understanding Levallois: Lithic Technology and Cognitive Archaeology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal, 6(02): 231-254. doi:10.1017/s0959774300001724
Simondon, G. 1958, Du mode d’existence des objets techniques. Philosophie. Aubier, Paris, 340 p. (in French) (“On the mode of existence of technical objects”)
Soriano, S. 2000, Outillage bifacial et outillage sur éclat au Paléolithique ancien et moyen : coexistence et interaction. Doctorat en Histoire thesis at Université Paris X- Nanterre, Nanterre, 459 p. (in French) (“Bifacial tools and flake tools of the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic: Coexistence and interaction”) URL: http://www.theses.fr/2000PA100137
Spagnolo, V. 2012, Analisi spaziale di un contesto musteriano: riparo l’Oscurusciuto (Ginosa - Ta). Tesi di laurea in Protostoria Europea thesis no. 10074504 at the Facoltà di Beni Culturali, Corso di Laurea Magistrale in Archeologia, Università del Salento, Lecce, 210 p. (in Italian) (“Spatial analysis of a Mousterian context: The Oscurusciuto shelter (Ginosa - Ta)”) URL: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284723658
Spagnolo, V. 2017, Studio delle strategie insediative del Paleolitico Medio in Italia centro-meridionale. Doctoral thesis at the Scienze della Terra, Ambientali e Polari, Università di Siena, Siena, 443 p. (in Italian) (“Study of settlement strategies of the Middle Palaeolithic in central-southern Italy”) URL: http://hdl.handle.net/11365/1011000
Spagnolo, V., Marciani, G., Aureli, D., Berna, F., Boscato, P., Ranaldo, F. & Ronchitelli, A. 2016, Between hearths and volcanic ash: The SU 13 palimpsest of the Oscurusciuto rock shelter (Ginosa - Southern Italy): Analytical and interpretative questions. Quaternary International, 417: 105-121. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.046
Tringham, R., Cooper, G., Odell, G., Voytek, B. & Whitman, A. 1974, Experimentation in the Formation of Edge Damage: A New Approach to Lithic Analysis. Journal of Field Archaeology, 1(1-2): 171-196. doi:10.1179/jfa.1974.1.1-2.171
Villa, P., Boscato, P., Ranaldo, F. & Ronchitelli, A. 2009, Stone tools for the hunt: points with impact scars from a Middle Paleolithic site in southern Italy. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(3): 850-859. doi:10.1016/j.jas.2008.11.012
Published
17-Jul-2018
How to Cite
Marciani, G., Arrighi, S., Aureli, D., Spagnolo, V., Boscato, P., & Ronchitelli, A. (2018). Middle Palaeolithic lithic tools: Techno-functional and use-wear analysis of target objects from SU 13 at the Oscurusciuto rock shelter, Southern Italy. Journal of Lithic Studies, 5(2). Retrieved from http://journals.ed.ac.uk/lithicstudies/article/view/2745
Section
ISKM 2017 - Buenos Aires