Did prehistoric foragers behave in an economically irrational manner? Raw material availability and technological organisation at the early Gravettian site of Willendorf II (Austria)
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Moreau, L., Brandl, M., & Nigst, P. (2015). Did prehistoric foragers behave in an economically irrational manner? Raw material availability and technological organisation at the early Gravettian site of Willendorf II (Austria). Quaternary International https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/253038
Willendorf II provides the longest and best-studied MIS 3 sequence in the Middle Danube region, and represents one of the key reference sequences for this time period in Central Europe. The assemblage chosen for analysis derives from archaeological horizon (AH) 5, attributed to the period of the first Gravettian between 30 and 27 ka uncal. BP. While previous analyses were all based on a selected inventory (mainly tools and cores) derived from the 1908/1909 excavations, the discovery of labelled wooden boxes containing numerous additional artefacts from the 1908/1909 excavations at the end of the 1990s in the cellar of the Natural History Museum in Vienna considerably raises the total number of finds for all archaeological horizons, and opens new perspectives for investigating Upper Palaeolithic behavioural variability in the Middle Danube region. For the first time, the total assemblage of AH 5 has been analysed. Moreover, for the first time all artefacts have been assigned to a raw material source area, allowing for quantified observations on raw material economy and technological variability in the early Gravettian of the Middle Danube region. Willendorf II provides an excellent basis for the study of Gravettian lithic assemblage variability due to the wide array of local and nonlocal lithic resources available at varying distances from the settlement. We discuss the results in the light of the concepts of "technological provisioning" developed by S.L. Kuhn (1992), as it turns out that distance to source alone is not suitable to predict and explain raw material frequencies and the character of transported technologies on nonlocal material at Willendorf II-AH5. We argue that other factors such as the degree of anticipation of foreseeable activities and occupation span might account for the observed economic patterns. Our results clearly have broader relevance for understanding assemblage variability in the Gravettian of Central Europe and further afield.
raw material economy, technological provisioning, blank selection and transport, Upper Palaeolithic, Gravettian
This research was funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) (grant MO-2369/1). M.B.'s research is funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. PRN's research is funded by an EC FP7 Career Integration Grant (NEMO-ADAP, Grant nr. 322261), the Leakey Foundation, the University of Cambridge and the Max-Planck-Society. We would like to thank Walpurga Antl-Weiser (Department of Prehistory, Natural History Museum, Vienna) for access to the Willendorf II assemblages and assistence during the data collection. We are also indebted to Anton Kern (Department of Prehistory, Natural History Museum, Vienna) for providing working space during extended stays in Vienna and the hospitability of his team at the Department of Prehistory. Further, we would like to thank Gerhard Trnka (Department of Prehistoric and Historic Archaeology, University of Vienna) for access to his Lithothek and discussion of raw material sources.
European Commission (322261)
European Commission Horizon 2020 (H2020) Marie Sk?odowska-Curie actions (654927)
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/253038