Thursday, July 08, 2004

The Middle Palaeolithic Site of Wallertheim: A Brief Introduction

The Middle Palaeolithic Site of Wallertheim: A Brief Introduction A brief introduction to site of Wallertheim is located in the Rheinhessen region of Germany, approximately 25km southwest of the city of Mainz, and is situated on the former floodplain of the Wiesbach river.

From the site:

The open-air Middle Palaeolithic site of Wallertheim is located in the Rheinhessen region of Germany, approximately 25km southwest of the city of Mainz, and is situated on the former floodplain of the Wiesbach river.

The first excavations were conducted here in the 1920's by the German palaeontologist, O. Schmidtgen. These early excavations identified one archaeological horizon and recovered numerous remains of bison that are believed to represent an archaeofauna. These remains suggest that Neandertals engaged in species-specific hunting practices during the last interglacial, some time between 120,000 and 100,000 years ago. The most recent archaeological fieldwork at Wallertheim occurred from 1991 to 1994 and focussed on an area approximately 300m2 in size and 60m south of Schmidtgen's original excavation.

These excavations identified a total of six archaeological horizons (Wal A-E) and documented nearly 10,000 lithic artifacts and over 600 faunal remains (Profiles and horizons). In these layers we have reconstructed phases of lithic reduction and use, as well as bones and sometimes large portions individual animals. The lithic conjoins typically document periods of stone knapping oriented toward the production and maintenance of artifacts, while the faunal refits allow archaeological and non-archaeological modification of carcasses to be placed within a sequence of events. At present, the artifacts and bones recovered from this excavation are being studied at the University of Tübingen by our team and all findings will be published in a multidisciplinary monograph within the next year or two. The following is a brief horizon-by-horizon summary of some of our preliminary results.

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