The manufacture of Aurignacian split-based points: An experimental challenge

Elise Tartar, Randall White

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Hunting is one of the areas of human activity that sees the most significant changes in the period from 40 000-35 000 BP in Europe. In this respect, the Aurignacian technocomplex shows technical innovations, notably with the fabrication of split-based points (SBP) in antler and the mass production of bladelets, arguably to serve as weapon armatures. Yet, little experiment work has been dedicated to this question. To begin to fill this gap, we have designed an experimental program devoted to testing and assessing the design, manufacture and use of Aurignacian weaponry.In this paper, we present the very first stage of this project, focused on the fabrication of SBP's and particularly the question of the creation of the basal splits, an issue much-debated since the 1920's. From our replicative experiments and comparisons with the rich collections from Abris Castanet and Blanchard, we conclude that the incision, flexion and cleavage procedure (IFC) applied to SBP's combines the techniques proposed by previous authors. The use of the IFC procedure has been identified in at least 23 sites in SW Europe. Importantly, because this procedure is rigidly conditioned by the physical and mechanical properties of antler, it is unlikely that another technical solution was possible to create the basal splits.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)2723-2745
    Number of pages23
    JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Jun 2013


    • Abri Blanchard
    • Abri Castanet
    • Antler technology
    • Aurignacian
    • Hunting
    • Split based points
    • Tongued pieces

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology


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