2D geometric morphometric analysis casts doubt on the validity of large tanged points as cultural markers in the European Final Palaeolithic

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    Kamil Serwatka, University of Wroclaw, Poland
  • Felix Riede
Large tanged points are known from several Final Palaeolithic technocomplexes in Europe. In different regions, they are known by different labels (e.g. Bromme points, Lyngby points, and Teyjat points) and are often given culturally and hence chronologically diagnostic status as important fossiles directeurs, especially in northern Europe. The vast majority of these finds are from the surface or derive from less-than-secure contexts. Several recent papers have cast doubt on the validity of this artefact class as a taxonomically sensitive marker. Here, we further investigate this issue using 2D geometric morphometric techniques on a sample of published large tanged points from several key sites in northern Europe. This analysis reveals a substantial amount of shape variation within this artefact class and finds no support for distinctions between large tanged points derived from different cultural and/or chronological contexts. Our analysis thus strongly supports the notion that large tanged points do not function as useful culturally diagnostic marker artefacts. The earliest occurrences of Final Palaeolithic large tanged points date to late GS-2 or GI-1e (~. 15,000-14,000 cal BP), alongside arch-backed points. Their presence in later assemblages and technocomplexes such as the Brommean cannot therefore be considered as a derived or diagnostic feature. We suggest that this artefact class should rather be linked to weapon systems function (dart-points) different from the coeval arch-backed points (arrowheads) and that definitions of cultures based on these should thus be taken up for critical revision.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Pages (from-to)150-159
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

    Research areas

  • Bromme culture, Final Palaeolithic, Geometric morphometrics, Large tanged points, Projectile points

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  • morph2016

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