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the Azilian Tradition

(About 9,000-8,000 BC, named after Mas d'Azil, France)

The Azilian follows the final phase of the Magdalenian in some French and Spanish sites and corresponds with the first post-glacial periods. There are distinctive Azilian tools, including shorter blades with a convex retouched edge, very short, "claw-like" scrapers, distinctive double-pointed blades, and flat harpoons made from antler. The antler available was the antler of red deer, rather than the antler of ice-age reindeer, which had probably become extinct in France and Spain by this time.

Most writers consider the Azilians to be "Mesolithic," a category that refers both to a period between the Upper Paleolithic and the Neolithic, particularly in northern Europe, and to the assemblages characteristic of that period.

Mesolithic assemblages are characterized by composite tools incorporating large numbers of very small blades or "microflints," each made by notching a small stone flake and breaking it, producing an extremely sharp edge. The notching was done with an artifact called a "microburin." (If you think of the Mesolithic as involving "micro-stuff," you won't be far wrong.)

(A few post-Pleistocene, pre-Neolithic assemblages in fact do NOT feature microflints particularly prominently, so the term "Epi-paleolithic" (from Greek epi [ἐπι], “afterwards”) has been proposed by some as a better cover term. Bully.)

Click here for More About the Magdalenian.



Content Revised: 2003-04-06
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