Laureate of an MSCA IF grant for her LION project, Malvina Baumann carries out her research at the Traceolab.

Malvina BAUMAN


he development of Palaeolithic sciences from the exceptional European heritage led to define the behavioural modernity on the basis of the material culture of Homo Sapiens in this small part of the world. In the set of modern traits is the use of bone materials, for making fully shaped objects by means of varied techniques. The lack of bone industry by Neanderthal has been considered as a cognitive gap. However, the definition of what a bone industry should be is based on artefacts having a strong social and symbolic value, which excludes part of the equipment made by Homo Sapiens himself. A large part of the bone industry within the Solutrean assemblages had been revealed by a PhD investigation: most of the artefacts were confused with the fauna remains, due to the large use of percussion for blanks production and tools shaping. The transfer of the analytical grid to Palaeolithic sites of the Siberian Altai, among which Denisova cave, has uncovered a diversified bone industry in occupation layers from other Hominins. The identification there of more than a thousand knapped bone tools opens up new perspectives. Was the production of this industry by Denisovans and Neanderthals a local shared tradition, or is this the sign of a wider practice so far unseen by lack of appropriate analytical and conceptual tools? This issue is investigated by extending the corpus to Neanderthal sites of Western Europe and by creating a traceological framework suitable for the functional recognition of the Palaeolithic unshaped bone tools. The aim of the project is to contribute to the debate on the cognitive faculty of archaic Humans, not so much in binary terms, as all too often discussed, but rather according to the structure of their technical world. The Traceolab, at the University of Liege, with its modern equipment, its field of competence in full adequacy with the subject and its access to archaeological collections of great value constitutes the most favourable context for the continuation of this research.

Read : The Neandertal bone industry at Chagyrskaya cave, Altai Region, Russia

Fig 4 Microtomo Experimental BT 

View of macro-cracks of a Neandertalian knapped bone tool replica in a µCT slice .
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