Living on the edge – a multiregional approach for studying the beginning of the Aurignacian


UISPP Burgos 1-09-2014 - 7-09-2014; Session 21d
"Chronostratigraphic data about the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic cultural change in Western Europe"

Living on the edge – a multiregional approach for studying the beginning of the Aurignacian
Guido Bataille (1), Yvonne Tafelmaier (1&2), Gerd-Christian Weniger (2)
(1) Institut for Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Cologne, Weyertal 125, D-50923 Cologne
(2) Neanderthal Museum, Talstraße 300, D-40822 Mettmann
Keywords: basal adaptation, multilinear transfer of ideas, lamellar microliths, Iberian Peninsula, Crimea, Middle-Don region

At the moment a geographical source area for the Aurignacian is not recognizable. To the contrary, assemblages yielding fundamental Aurignacian elements, such as specific bladelet cores (e. g. carinated & nosed endsrapers) and its end-products (e. g. unilaterally, bilaterally & alternately retouched bladelets & microblades), occur prior to the Heinrich 4 event within a vast region between the river Don in the East, the Atlantic shore in the West and the Mediterranean in the South. In the present study the beginning of the Aurignacian is examined from a multiregional point of view. For that approach empiric data from Aurignacian assemblages of the Western and the Eastern margin of Europe were techno-typologically analyzed and compared with secondary information including assemblage composition, chronology and environmental data from Western, Central and Southern European Aurignacian sites. Of special importance is the Proto-Aurignacian (stage 0) and Early Aurignacian (stage 1) dichotomy, suggesting a temporal succession reflecting the initial migration of AMH groups into and through Europe (Banks et al. 2013, Teyssandier et al. 2010). On the basis of empiric studies of lithic assemblages from Northern Spain (Labeko Koba & Ekain), the Middle Don region (Kostenki 14) and Crimea (Siuren 1) the integrity of the Aurignacian stages 0 and 1 is critically analyzed. On the one hand the study of the Labeko Koba sequence reveals a high share of common technological knowledge within the analysed assemblages. On the other hand investigations of Aurignacian assemblages of Eastern Europe show a mixture of Aurignacian elements belonging to different stages of the established Western European Aurignacian sequence. Inter-assemblage variability seems to reflect predominantly regional specific adaptation mechanisms. A high share of Aurignacian tool/core types within the lowest initial Upper Palaeolithic complex IVb1-2 of Kostenki 14 speaks for an early multi-regional spread of specific adaptive elements. Moreover, a technological shift in the bladelet production of the Siuren 1 Aurignacian sequence in connection with a technological and typological continuity regarding tool composition and blade production militates in favour of a regional in situ development. In the framework of the current study the Aurignacian is understood as a specific set of adaptive elements (model of adaptive segments) which plays a fundamental role in the onset of the European Upper Palaeolithic. In this context the present day favoured interpretation of the Aurignacian as physical output of an unilineal spread of AMH through Europe is challenged. In contrast to that, a model of multilineal information transfer, which allows for movements of ideas or human groups back and forth, is postulated. Thus, both regional similarities and differences can be explained.


Bataille, G., Tafelmaier, Y., Weniger, G. (2018): Living on the edge – a multiregional approach for studying the beginning of the Aurignacian. – In: Quaternary International, Vol. 474A, p: 3-29, DOI:

Authors Bataille, G. and Tafelmaier, Yvonne and Weniger, Gerd-Christian
Type article
Title Living on the edge – a multiregional approach for studying the beginning of the Aurignacian
Journal Quaternary International
Year 2018
Volume 474A
Pages 3-29
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