Palaeolithic Period: Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic Period

The first or the oldest prehistoric culture is known as Palaeolithic or the Old Stone Age. The term comes from the Greek word ‘palaios’ means old and ‘lithos’ means stone.

Therefore, palaios+lithos=Palaeolithic. Although our knowledge regarding Palaeolithic is very meagre and imperfect, still Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age is very important as it provides a clear cut sequence of cultural development throughout the entire Pleistocene period, all over the world.

It is considered as a crucial period for all round human evolution; development of cultures can be traced out distinctively in this period.

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Palaeolithic can be further sub-divided into three phases—lower Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic.

Division of Palaeolithic into Three Phases:

1. Lower Paleolithic:

The time span of the Lower Palaeolithic was the maximum covering the whole of Lower Pleistocene and bulk of the Middle Pleistocene epoch. During this span many river valleys and terraces were formed. Early men preferred to live near the water supply, as the stone tools are found mainly in or adjacent to the river valleys.

Evidence of the earliest stone tools in Western Europe has appeared from the deposits of first Inter-glacial phase in the Lower Pleistocene. Excellent stratigraphic sequences of entire Pleistocene epoch containing Lower Palaeolithic artifacts have been discovered from the Somme Valley in the north of France and the Thames Valley in the south of England.

On the basis of those valuable evidences, the tool-making traditions of the Lower Palaeolithic in Western Europe can be divided into two groups, such as Hand-axe traditions and Flake traditions basically the Hand-axe traditions contained the core tool cultures while the flake traditions consisted with the flake tool cultures.


Elementary feature of the hand-axe tradition is the bifacial tool that means a more or less pointed tool made on core where both the upper and lower surfaces are worked. Though the core tools are the principal element of this hand-axe tradition, the flake tools are also found to occur in all levels along with hand-axes.

These flake tools are relatively simple due to the utilization of waste materials resulting from the manufacture of hand-axes. But, in other cases, much more complicated flake tools have been found in this tradition. The characteristic feature of the flake traditions is the assemblages of flake tools that are of more complex type.

A few sites of flake traditions are devoid of hand-axes where the flake tools are produced by specific techniques to present definite forms and purposes In fact, these two groups of tool traditions {hand-axe tradition and flake tradition) are further subdivided into different cultures. The hand-axe tradition is sub-divided into three cultures, such as Pre-Chellean Chellean or Abbevillian and Acheulean while the flake tradition is sub-divided into two cultures’ such as Clactonian and Levalloisian.

Hand-axe Traditions:


1. Pre-Chellean Culture:

This early culture was discovered from the Cromer forest bed in Norfolk, England. The Cromer sites were possibly the workshops as because no finished artefact is found there. Most of the tools of Cromerian industry have been derived from a stone bed which was lying just below the Weybourn crag in the cliffs behind, but in present day the stone bed and the crag are completely buried due to natural accumulation of environment.

In 1904, V. Commont called it as Pre-Chellean culture. But in 1929, Prof Abbe’ Henri Breuil has given another name after the type-site, Abbeville in France He named it along with Chellean finds as Abbevillian culture. But, as a major cultural type, no definite feature could be ascribed for this industry.

Flint Nodules

Typologically, very crude type of hand-axes, including choppers, discs; scrapers, etc. have been collected as the chief findings. Occasionally more finished tools are found as rare specimens of core-tool type Primary flakings are evident in these tools but no sign of secondary working has been observed, essentially, the major findings were the flakes.


Although the finished tools are found rarely but the pebbly cortex is significantly present in all Pre-Chellean tools. The primary flakings have been worked out only at the working end. It is definitely an early form of core-tool culture of hand-axe tradition. .

The geological age of this culture is the early Pleistocene epoch. During the first glacial period (Gunz), the culture flourished in Western Europe and Africa. Though, no definite representative group has yet been found in association with this industry, still some pre-historians feel that a group alike to Australopithecine might be responsible for this culture.

2. Chellean or Abbevillian culture:

It is apparently the oldest tool-making tradition of the core-tool culture in Western Europe. In the gravel terraces of the Somme Valley, a large number of sites have been discovered. Previously this culture was named as the Chellean, after the site Chelles on Somme Valley in northern France.

The Pleistocene deposits at Chelles are situated on a lower terrace. But in Abbeville the tools are found in situ at the higher terraces at Abbeville. The name Abbevillian takes its name from the site Abbeville on Somme Valley in northern France.

According to Prof. Breuil, Abbevillian is the combination of Pre-Chellean and Chellean cultures. But, Prof. A.L. Kroebar considered both the Chellean and the Abbevillian as the same culture where the Chellean being the older name and the Abbevillian is more modem nomenclature.

It is mainly a bifacial core-tool culture. E. A. Hoebel, 1958, in his book Man in the Primitive World defined the bifaces as core tools made from the remaining part or heart of a nodule of flint after surface flakes have been removed. The residue of a nodule is taken into a particular shape.

The biface have greater breadth than thickness and they are tapering to thin edges around the circumference. In this way, two faces i.e. dorsal and ventral sides of the tools are well marked The characteristic tools are mostly hand-axes or picks; crudest types are found in the Lower Palaeolithic period German scholars call them ‘Faustkeil’ or ‘fist wedge’ while the French have corned the term ‘Coup-de-poing’, a blow of the fist or a punch.

The forms are varied and flaking is generally irregular which produces sinuous cutting edges. In fact, these hand-axes coarsely flaked with zig-zag margins are probably manufactured either with a stone-hammer or on a stone anvil. So, it is clear that Block- on-Block technique was employed for releasing irregular flakes to manufacture of hand-axes.

For the first time, alternate flakings are marked in association with flake tools. But, these flake tools are very crude types with no existence of any definite tool forms. The majority of the flakes are the resultant from the manufacture of hand-axes.

Pear-shaped, tongue-shaped, and oval-shaped hand- axes are common types in Abbevillian culture, which is slightly evolved form of the Pre-Chellean culture. The pebbly cortex is slightly present in Abbevillian hand-axes. Besides, discs, scrapers, choppers and also knifes on flakes are found in this culture. It can be accepted as the first tradition of the bifacial core-tools culture. (Fig. 11.5).

Chell Acheul Tools

The geological age of this culture is the Lower Pleistocene epoch particularly during the time of Gunz-Mindel Inter-glacial (first Inter-glacial period). The distribution is chiefly observed in Western Europe Africa and Western Asia. The representative population responsible for this culture was an allied group of Homo erectus. It signifies the second stage of Hominid evolution when group alike to early form of Pithecanthropines came into existence.

3. Acheulean culture:

This culture covers the longest time-span of tool-making tradition of the Palaeolithic period. A large number of tools have been discovered from both the Somme and the Thames Valley. The principal stratigraphic development of this culture has occurred in 30-meter deep middle terrace of the Somme Valley at St. Acheul, a suburb of Amiens in France.

The tool types are found in the terrace gravel of the Somme. The oldest types relate to the early inter-glacial gravel of the 45-meter high at the terrace of the Valley. Some of the scholars have tried to include the lithic findings occurred at Suffolk Swanscombe (Kent in England) in the Thames Valley, Torralba-Ambrona sites in Spam under the Acheulean culture.

In general the Acheulean may be divided into Lower, Middle and Upper though the actual sequence is more complex. In fact, the Acheulean culture is continued with bifacial core-tools and primarily focused on the manufacture of hand-axes which means the first tradition (hand-axe tradition) of the bifacial core-tools culture.

Acheulean Tool Types

Lower Acheulean:

This level includes a proportion of roughly made hand-axes, but there are a larger proportion of ovate forms of hand-axes than in other levels. Besides, cleavers, the bifacial core-tool with square, or slightly convex, sharp cutting edge at one extremity is found abundant. This type is comparatively rare but found in all Acheulean levels.

Middle Acheulean:

This level is marked with ovate hand-axes where sinuous edge, known as the ‘S-twist’, stand as characteristic type. The apart from this, fossil human remains have been discovered in direct association with this cultural level.

Upper Acheulean:

This is the final level of Acheulean and also known as the Micoquian. This name has been accepted after the type-site. La Micoque in the Dordogne region of south central France. The Micoquian type of hand-axes is the developed form of bifacial core-tools and has been characterized by very straight and finely chipped edges. Further, these hand-axes show an overall sub-triangular or elongated form.

The hand-axes of triangular, heart-shaped or cordiform, lanceolate form, pointed forms are found in all levels, but they are rare in earlier levels. A gradual development of technique has been observed between the early and late level of this culture.

Flake tools have occurred in all levels, but the number of tools increases in the Upper Acheulean. Most of the tools are made from the flakes struck off during the process of hand-axe manufacture and the side scrapers are the predominant types. In general, the lanceolate forms of hand-axes (core-tools) are found in association with a large number of flake-tools (including points with a triangular cross-section) in Upper Acheulean level. It represents the most developed form of Acheulean culture, known as Micoquian.

The Acheulean hand-axes are trimmed all round as evident from the nature of flake-scars. This has made the tools flatter, more evenly flaked with uniform edge than the other varieties of Abbevillian tools; pebbly cortex is completely absent. The tools are invariably bilaterally symmetrical having thin lenticular cross-section.

The hand-axes marked with sinuous edge (‘S or Z – twist’) are typical to the Acheulean culture and suggest controlled or resolved flakings. Besides, some flake tools with facetted striking platform are found in association with these hand-axes (core-tools). Some flakes with Levalloisian influence have been observed in Upper Acheulean culture level.

Geological age of this culture is middle Pleistocene epoch. It originated particularly in the early part of second inter-glacial period (Mindel-Riss inter-glacial) and continued up to the third inter- glacial period (Riss-Wurm inter-glacial).

In fact, Acheulean represents a cultural stage between the two flake traditions — Clactonian and Levalloisian. This bifacial core-tool tradition was though confined to Western Europe but the Acheulean-Levalloisian complexes were found in Africa and Asia. However, this type of bifacial core-tools or core-biface was possibly the contribution of Neanthropic men (modem men). The representative group must be an early form of Homo sapiens. The fossil human remains have been identified as the Swanscombe, Galley Hill, and other associated types of Neanthropic man.

Flake Tradition:

1. Clactonian Culture:

The second tradition is the Flake tool tradition where Clactonian is the first flake-tool culture. The Clactonian is named after the stratigraphic position of the type-site at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex in England, which is most clearly shown at Swanscombe, Kent, in the Thames Valley.

The Clactonian culture is mainly a flake-tradition though some core-tools are found in association with them. These core-tools are the nodules of flint, either alternately worked or flaked along the upper surface of one side as choppers. The Clactonian flakes are rough and struck out unsystematically from the prepared cores.

It is suggested that most of these flakes are produced by striking the lump on the edge of an anvil. The manufacture of hand-axes produced some waste-flakes with Clactonian characteristics, but true Clactonian flakes came from the chopper-like cores where numerous flakes with wide, plain striking platforms and dressed edges were produced.

Tools on Flake

The Clactonian flakes generally exhibited large, massive, un-facetted striking platforms and prominent positive bulbs of percussion. The flake surface formed a wide angle, greater than 90° with the striking platform. These types of flake-tools are mostly crude, but in some cases, actual retouching or secondary working on the edges of the flakes is also found.

Small chopping tools, rough scrapers, discs, knives, blades on flint are the chief findings of this culture. Some flake-tools designed as bill-hook and types of long flake with concave cutting edge are found here. According to M.C. Burkitt, finely trimmed side scrapers and pointed tools obtained from this stage should be labeled as ‘late and highly evolved Clactonian’.

The geological age of these culture points the lower Pleistocene period which originated during the early part of Mindel glacial phase or second glaciation and continued up to the Mindel-Riss inter-glacial or second inter-glacial period. This culture level represents a stage between Abbevillian and Acheulean.

This first flake-tool culture of Flake-tradition is widely distributed in Western Europe, Africa, Western and southeastern Asia including India. No definite human group can be pointed out as the carrier of this culture, but many scholars believed that this industry was a contribution of Neanderthal-like Palaenthropic men, who were probably the members of third stage of hominid evolution.

The Neanderthal people were supposed to extinct with their culture about 70000 years back and the core-biface of Acheulean culture were supposed to have been made only by Neanthropic man (modem man) i.e. the early forms of Homo Sapiens.

It may be mentioned here that the European flake cultures, predominated by the Clactonian flake tools are closely allied to the flake-tools of Tayacian culture. This Tayacian culture has been poorly defined but probably developed into the Middle Palaeolithic period by the name of Mousterian culture. Further, it shows a definite association with Neanderthal man. Thus, the Tayacian tools may be taken as an earlier stage of Mousterian flake-tools. The name Tayacian has been derived after the type-site Tayac near Les Eyzies (Dordogne), in Southwest France.

2. Levalloisian Culture:

The Levalloisian is named after a locality at Levallois-Perret, a suburb of Paris in France. Previously, this culture of Flake-tradition was considered to be the distinct and separate from the Acheulean culture. But, recent investigation in the Amiens region of Somme Valley and the Swanscombe region of Thames Valley, reveals a large number of stratigraphic divisions where the characteristic type of Levalloisian flakes have occurred with tortoise core.

This is a direct and indisputable association of Levalloisian flake tools with Middle Acheulean core-tools. In this way, the tortoise core technique or the technique of prepared striking platform can be pointed out as basic to Levalloisian culture which appeared first in the Middle Acheulean level. The technique was found to evolve during the Upper Acheulean or Micoquian level and its final expression was arrived in Proto-Mousterian and also in Levalloiso-Mousterian level.

It is predominantly a flake-tool culture of Flake-tradition. The technique of Levalloisian culture is quite different and it requires a careful preparation of the core. At first, the core is prepared to look like the back of tortoise. Thereafter, the flakes are detached from this specially prepared tortoise- core.

Each Levallois flake is meant for a tool, which is knocked off from the core by a direct blow. The flake, split-off from the tortoise-core, is oval in shape and flat in nature. They are finely worked for a hand-axe. In fact, true levalloisian flakes are thin, small and their ventral surfaces show the evidence of a single flat scar. Besides, the facetted striking platform makes an angle of 90° with the flake surface.

The striking platforms of most of these flakes exhibit a series of small, roughly parallel, vertical flake scars as the facets. They are the sign of initial preparation on the core before final detachment of the Levalloisian flakes.

The positive bulb of percussion is small and flat as because the impact was mild. The development of Levalloisian culture may be shown under four groups on the basis of stratigraphical divisions of the findings along with the technological advancements.

Lower Levalloisian:

This phase is characterized by heavy flakes and blades knocked off from tortoise-core or prepared- core. The striking platforms are normally and especially roughly faceted.

Middle Levalloisian:

This phase is characterized by smaller, thinner and better retouched flakes than those of the Lower Levalloisian flakes. Numerous blades and rectangular blade-core appeared for the first time in this phase. Another feature is the presence of faceted striking platform. This phase may be labeled as the Proto-Mousterian.

Upper Levalloisian:

This phase is characterized by the regular occurrence of the hand-axes, triangular in shape. They occur in association with large and oval flakes of similar size as found in Lower Levalloisian phase. But, Upper Levalloisian large and oval flakes are invariably more thinner and show better workmanship on them. This phase may be termed as early Levalloiso-Mousterian.

Final Levalloisian:

In this phase, the retouched blades and triangles are struck off very carefully from the well- prepared cores. Typologically, the tools do not show much difference from the previous phase, but this phase presents a high esteemed workmanship which denote the Final Levalloisian culture and may also be called as the developed Levalloiso-Mousterian.

The geological age of this culture is the middle Pleistocene period. In terms of glacial age the culture is extended between the third glacial (Riss) and third inter-glacial (Riss-Wurm) periods. In fact, Levalloisian appeared as contemporary to Middle Acheulean and merged into the famous Mousterian culture.

This flake tradition is found well distributed in Western Europe, Africa, and in India, especially in soanian industries. Although no definite group is held as the carrier of this culture, but an early Neanderthal group seems to be responsible behind it who belonged to the third stage of hominid evolution.

2. Middle Palaeolothic:

The Middle Palaeolithic period is differentiated mainly from the typological point of view where the presence or absence of hand-axes or biface is critically important. The core-tool cultures have totally been transferred to the flake-tool cultures in this level. Therefore, Chellean-Acheulean hand- axes are no more found. Instead, implements have been made on flakes that are knocked off from the nodule.

Both Levalloisian and Mousterian cultures were developed on the flake tradition involving a higher technology. Levalloisian culture was started from the Middle Acheulian stage and its developed form is named as ‘Proto Mousterian’, which became further developed later with the name ‘Levalloiso- Mousterian’. This indicates that the Mousterian also emerged from Middle Levalloisian stage.

As a matter of fact, evidences of Levalloisian culture come from the open-air sites, whereas the Mousterian had kept its evidences mostly in caves and rock-shelters of South-Western France. Besides, the Mosterian provides the earliest evidence on the regular use of fire and first definite burial has also been discovered from this stage in Western Europe.

Mousterian Culture:

The rock-shelter of Le Moustier in the Dordogne area of southwestern France is the type-site of the mousterian culture. It is mainly considered as a flake-tool culture without the presence of hand- axes. This culture shows complete absence of any kind of core-tool. But in early Mousterian levels in France, a large number of small cordiform or heart-shaped hand-axes (from the flakes) have been found together with Mousterian points and side-scrapers. These smaller flake hand-axes show at least one flat side along with a sharp, straight, or sweeping curved edge, which is usually retouched on one side only.

Though these flake implements are varied in shape and size, but all of them show retouches on one side only. In many sites, the tortoise-core technique for flaking is not found, rather the flakes have been detached by the discoidal core-technique (where the prepared core looks like a disc or round in shape) and then retouched. The typical tools of this culture are side-scrapers, points and discs.

The Mousterian tools, in general, show facetted striking platform and secondary workings in the form of step-chippings where the pressure-flaking technique is commonly applied. For the first time, a crude bone-tool industry appeared in the Mousterian stage. Perhaps the Palaeanthropic man in Lower Palaeolithic stage had fashioned bones into tools, but open-air sites were not favourable for preservation of these tools.

Mousterian bone tools are mostly made with the broken long bones of animals. Some selected dense bones also bear the traces of use as chopping blocks and compressors or anvils. The typical Mousterian culture was flourished when the climate was very cold. Because this industry was always found confined to caves and rock-shelters. The first time evidence of regular use of fire also supports this fact. The Mousterian culture may be classified into three levels, such as Early, Middle and Late.

Early Mousterian tools show immense influence of Levalloisian type as a good number of cordiform flake hand-axes have been discovered from the site at Combe Capelle at France. During the Middle Mousterian, the Levalloisian types of tools has also been discovered but only tool types like side scrapers, points, discs, etc. are found.

Late or Upper Mousteian Tools became smaller in size. Most of them show monotonous appearance in the form of little side scrapers and points as evident in the rock-shelter of La Quina at the Charente in France. It is interesting that they also had an influence of Clactonian tradition.

Prof F. Hordes in 1968 classified the Mousterian culture into four levels in the following ways: Mousterian of Acheulean. It is marked by the hand-axes, large number of side scrapers, backed knives and a type of notched tools.

Typical Mousterian:

It shows a sharp decline in the number of hand-axes and knives. The predominance of side scrapers and Levallois flakes were also reduced. This phenomenon is found in the site La Micoque in France.

Charentian Mousterian:

It is found in two famous Neanderthal sites at La Quina and La Farrasie in France. The level has been characterized by the strong influence of Clactonian flake tradition and the absence of Levalloisian influence. A good number of side scrapers and notched flakes have appeared in these sites.

Denticulated Mousterian:

In this level, hand-axes and backed knives are significantly absent. But, a huge number of tools such as the side-scrapers, end-scrapers, burins, borers and denticulates have appeared. The geological age of this culture has been ascribed as Middle Pleistocene period. It originated during the later part of third inter-glacial (RISS-WURM) period and continued up to early part of fourth glaciation (WURM).

Culturally Mousterian is in between of Lower Palaeolithic and Upper Palaeolithic and usually classed as the Middle Palaeolithic period. The Neanderthal people were definitely responsible for the creation of this culture. But many of the findings still suggest that this transitional phase of culture is the contribution of an early form of Homo-Sapiens.

3. Upper Palaeolithic:

The last part of the Old Stone Age gave rise to the Upper Palaeolithic culture, which covers approximately 1/10th of the time span of entire Palaeolithic period. During this short span of time, the prehistoric man made his greatest cultural progress.

This phase of Palaeolithic period shows diversified and specialized tools made on blades by replacement of the hand-axes and flake-tools of earlier cultures. It is also notable that, not only flint and similar rocks were used as tools bone was also taken as a material for making tools.

The ivory and antler were not spared. The culture has been referred as the Osteodontokeratic culture for the utilization of bone, teeth and horn at a time. Early man of primitive types disappeared at this cultural stage and the man of modem type came into existence. Earliest man-made dwellings have been discovered from this level.

This cultural stage also shows the beginning and flowering of the Palaeolithic art. The blade-tool tradition of Upper Palaeolithic comprises of three cultures mainly—the Aurignacian, Solutrean and Magdalenian, on the basis of one or more distinctive tool types. But a number of types are common in all cultures of Upper Palaeolithic they are gravers, end-scrapers, points, etc. Among these, the graver type is very important as it denotes an extensive working on bone and facilitated the development of art.

Although, the three main traditions— Aurignacian ,Solutrean and Magdalenian form a unit for ‘Upper Palaeolithic’, with the Aurignacian itself three distinct phases have been recognized— Chatelperronian (Lower Aurignacian) at the base, true Aurignacian (or Middle Aurignacian) at the middle and the Gravettian (Upper Aurignacian) at the top. The Chatelperronian stage is characterized by the presence of a large carved point with one steeply retouched razor-like edge with blunted back.

This tool is known as Chatelperron point, named after the site Chatelperron in France. This phase was limited to the France only. The second phase, the typical Aurignacian or Aurignacian proper represents thicker blades and it were almost pan-European in distribution.

In Western Europe the Gravettian supplanted the Aurignacian culture. Most of the authorities believe that this culture had its root in Chatelperronian. The distinctive tool type of this stage was a narrow pointed blade like a pen-knife with blunted back. Some scholars of later period have noticed the existence of another culture known as Perigordian between the Mousterian and Aurignacian culture, belonging to the Upper Palaeolithic period.

The Perigordian points differ from the Mousterian points by elongated surface flakings. In most of the sites of Southern France Perigordian deposits are placed over the Mousterian deposits. In many sites Perigordian continues until the appearance of Magdalenian. Again, in some sites Aurignacian is found interposed between the lower and upper Perigordian. Thus, the Perigordian and the Aurignacian cultural traditions have been closely related in different parts of Western Europe.

Blade Tradition:

1. Perigordian Culture:

This culture is named after a site of Perigord region in southwestern France. The characteristic tools are blades of flint with one edge straight (razor-like). The other side is curved back with steeply retouched edge. The hunters possibly used these blades as knife. The culture reached to its optimum level in the said Perigord region of France.

The Lower Perigordian is the early or the oldest Upper Palaeolithic culture and shows the abundance of large curved points with blunted back which have popularly been known as Chatelperron points. The Upper Perigordian seems to have developed from the Chatelperronian type, showing the straight points with blunted backs.

The Upper Perigordian tools include the Gravette points and in addition, this stage notes the first occurrence of small human sculptures. The multi-angle gravers known as Noailles burins and tanged points made on blades called as Font Robert tanged points are also found in this level. Therefore, it is evident that as synonyms the Lower Perigordians replaces the Chatelperronian and Upper Perigordian appears at the place of Gravettian. The Middle Aurignacian or the true Aurignacian evolves, as it is to mark off the first main cultural tradition of Upper Palaeolithic.

The geological age of Perigordian culture corresponds to the phase of the retreat of Wurm- I glaciation. This cultural stage suggests the appearance of new species of human race that is the men of Late Pleistocene. This is the first stage in appearance of Homo sapiens. The people of Comb Capelle type and the Grimaldi man seem to be responsible for the Chatelperronian culture, i.e. Early Perigordian. The Predmost people represent the Gravettian culture, i.e. Late or Upper Perigordian. Both of these races belong to Neanthropic race.

2. Aurignacian Culture:

This culture is named after the type-site, a rock-shelter known as Aurignac in South West of Toulouse (Haute Garonne) of Southern France. Former Middle Aurignacian is now known only as the Aurignacian. All of the Aurignacian tools including Perigordian types are the usual Upper Palaeolithic blade tools, e.g. burins, end-scrapers, etc.

The leading tool types of this cultural stage include the steep-ended scrapers, nose scrapers, blade artefacts with heavy marginal retouch and split base bone points. The bone was extensively used in the Aurignacian, mainly for javelin points chisels, perforators and arrow straighteners or batons-de-commandment. Artefacts of personal adornment for the first time appeared in this stage which probably included necklaces made of pierced teeth and shells, decorated bits of bone, ivory and stone.

Upper Palaeolithic Tools

Other significant tools are the points, beaked gravers or burins, and keeled scrapers on stone. Besides, novelties in bone tools include split-base lance points, pointed awls or pins. The Arignacian people were artistic and fond of finery as shown by the evidences like decorated articles of ivory with geometric patterns, three dimensional miniature sculptures along with colored engravings and paintings. Along with these, some hollowed reindeer bones were found which seem to be used as tubes to hold the paint.

The geological age of this culture is related to the second part of Upper Pleistocene period and corresponds to the second phase of fourth glacial age i.e. Wurm-II or Buhl. The Aurignacian culture is traceable all over the Europe, but not as a uniform culture. It is also found in Africa and in India, especially in Northern Soan culture.

Main responsible representatives of this culture are the Cro- Magnon group of man. In evolutionary line, the Cro-Magnons have been placed as the Men of Late Pleistocene period and they are the first runners of Neanthropic race—the Homo sapiens.

3. Solutrean Culture:

This culture is named after the type site located at Solutre near Macon (Saone-et-Loire) in East- Central France. This cultural phase is notable for the finest development of flint workmanship in the Paleolithic period. We have found a high esteem development of lithic industry as the Solutrean toolmakers put much emphasis on the manufacture of their stone tools.

The tools are more or less thin and flat, regular and come out as a result of parallel flaking. Though the parallel flaking technique first appears in upper Perigordian level, but it shows its best development in the Solutrean level by the creation of beautiful symmetrical laurel leaf and shouldered points. Along with these characteristic tools, many usual Upper Palaeolithic tools are found to be made on blades such as the gravers or burins, end-scrapers, points, etc. Many of these scrapers also show fine Solutrean chipping technique.

The Solutrean culture is recognized by three fold division in the following ways:


In this level we have seen the Leaf-points which are much crude where the percussion method was employed. These points are retouched mainly on the upper surface and the bulb on the lower surface has been removed by flat retouch. Usually such a point is shaped by delicate chipping on the lower surface only. These points are commonly known as proto-laurel leaves or proto-Solutrean points.

Typical Solutrean:

Early leaf point is rough and thick. But, this level produces thin, regular and skillfully made leaf-points. These are characteristically true bifacial laurel leaves. These tools exhibit the excellence of pressure-flaking technique.

Upper Solutrean:

The level produces the leaf-points with constricted sides. The tools include small and beautifully made laurel-leaves. In some cases, one side gets constricted which is characterized as shouldered point in this level. In general, the Solutrean tools are found as the end-scrapers, side-scrapers, points, gravers or burins, etc. The examples of Solutrean art are rare. But the bone tools are found in many sites. The culture has a limited distribution. An early form is found in the caves of Hungary, Poland and elsewhere in Central Europe. But the main development has been observed in France and in some regions of Spain.

According to some Scholars Gravettian and Solutrean have influenced each other until their differentiation was not clear. However, Solutrean is an extraordinary brief period in Western Europe with spotty localization. But its significance cannot be ruled out.

The geological age of this culture goes to the second part of Upper Pleistocene period and corresponds to the retreat of the second phase of last glaciation (Wurm-II or Buhl). No direct evidence of skeletal remains has yet been found for Solutrean culture. But, other circumstantial evidences suggest that a Neanthropic group allied to Cro-Magnon race was perhaps responsible for this Solutrean culture.

4. Magdalenian Culture:

This culture is named after the type-site, a rock-shelter of La Madeleine at Dordogne in southwestern France. The last phase of Palaeolithic period is the Magdalenian culture which is noted for the wealth of bone and antler tools and especially remarkable for the works of art.

The flint industry of the Magdalenian people bore a blade tool tradition and was proved ingenious as well as utilitarian but this flint industry went in a state of gradual decline; the bone industry became more elaborate at this stage and a considerable variety of artifacts made on bone, ivory and reindeer antler were found.

They included spearheads with link-shafts, barbed points and harpoons for spearing fish, hammers, etc. Besides, many other bone artefacts of uncertain use were also found. As an example, the baton-de-commandment was first introduced by the Aurignacians; probably it was used as a mending tool for straightening arrow-shaft or spear-shaft. The artifacts like batons-de- commandment were designed with a great artistic skill.

Upper Palaeolithic Bone Tools

The different stages of the Magdalenian culture have been classified into seven sections in the following ways:


In this level, we find transverse burins or gravers. But, in bone tools, the harpoon heads are not traceable. The characteristic tools are made on bone as the javelin points which are flattened, conical with forked bases.


The flint tools of this level are found as the burins, end-scrapers, star-shaped borers. The bone tools include a large number of bone lance points (slightly convex) and bone needles. First appearance of batons-de-commandment has been noted during this stage.


The stone tools of this level are comprised of blade-lets, backed-knives, and denticulates. A large number of bone points characterize this level.


This level also shows the tools like backed-bladelets, triangular points and burins. A large number of bone tools, especially the lance-points continue to occur in this level.


The flint tools similar to the tools of previous stages appear in this stage. The typical tools of this level are the primitive harpoons made of bone and antler having a single row of lateral barbs.


The main tools of this level are the harpoons with single row barbs, very long shouldered points with short heads and the gravettian points.


The stone tools of this level are the parrot-beaked burins, fattish circular flakes, points and knifepoint. The characteristic tools of this level are the harpoons with double rows of lateral barbs.

In general, the typical magdalenian tools are the long and parallel-sided blade implements. Some tools of this period are found to serve dual purposes — scraper, perforators, double-ended scrapers and scraper burins.

It is the richest culture with regard to Upper Palaeolithic art where we have seen most bold outlines. The pigments as used are the black oxide of manganese and red and yellow oxides of iron. They were converted into paint by mixing with some fatty medium. The cave art of the Magdalenian people culminated in the production of polychrome paintings.

The geological age of this culture relates to the final part of Upper Pleistocene epoch and corresponds to the tail phase of last glaciation (Wurm). Human skeletal remains of modem type of man have been unearthed from several sites. They are undoubtedly the Neanthropic man and perhaps the representatives of Chancelade group of man who are known as the men of Late Pleistocene.

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