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Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association

Pioneers of Microlithization: The “Proto-Aurignacian” of Southern Europe

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Abstract

In Eurasia, assemblages containing large numbers of microlithic artifacts date predominantly to the terminal Pleistocene or postglacial periods. Much earlier “proto-Aurignacian” assemblages, found in several sites in southern Europe (Krems, Riparo Mochi, Grotta di Fumane, Arbreda Cave), date to between 33,000 and 39,000 B.P. Proto-Aurignacian assemblages are typified by substantial numbers of microlithic artifacts, predominantly retouched bladelets. This pattern contrasts sharply with those of both the preceding Mousterian and later classic Aurignacian and Gravettian. Early florescence and subsequent decline of microlithic assemblages (also known to occur in southwest Asia and southern Africa) casts a different light on the processes of microlithization, forcing us to disassociate the general phenomenon from the historically unique, global spread of microlithic technologies near the end of the Pleistocene.

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