Way back in 2014 Laure Bassin and I presented the first results of our Gestures of TransitionsGestures of Transitions project at the MesoLife conference in Selva di Cadore in the beautiful Dolomites. Now these results have been published in a new volume of Preistoria Alpina. We could increase our results beyond those presented in the poster then and are pleased to be able to show a nice summary of our study of the scrapers from the Late Mesolithic layers at Arconciel/La Souche, Switzerland.
Late Mesolithic scrapers from Arconciel/La Souche, Switzerland. Illustration: SAEF/AAFR
Scrapers are special at this site. Not only are many extremely small, an extraordinary large proportion of tools found at Arconciel/La Souche, over 50% of tools, were scrapers. So, curious about what we found out about these seemingly so insignificant little tools? You can download the paper here:
Cornelissen, M. and Bassin, L., 2016. Alpine raw materials and the production and use of scrapers at the Swiss Late Mesolithic site of Arconciel/La Souche, Preistoria Alpina 48, pp. 11-19
The well stratified rock shelter site of Arconciel/La Souche, Switzerland was repeatedly occupied between 7100 and 4900 cal BC. It lies in the Sarine river valley at the foot of the Prealps. This paper presents the first preliminary results of the study of the scrapers from this site. Of the chipped stone tool categories, scrapers are the most numerous found at Arconciel/La Souche. A combined technological and microscopic use wear study of the scrapers from three assemblages (ensemble
3, 4 and 5) has allowed us to examine the use and production of scrapers as well as how production and use relate to the various raw materials utilised at Arconciel/La Souche. We were able to show that although scraper morphology remained stable over time, there was a significant change in the relationship between raw materials and scraper production as well as the use of scrapers.
This research will be expanded to include other assemblages and chipped stone artefact categories from Arconciel/La Souche, but has already provided important new insights into artefact use-life in the still relatively poorly understood millennium leading up to the end of the Mesolithic on the Swiss Plateau and the nearby Prealps.
But there is even more! Preistoria Alpina has changed its set-up. The journal is now only available online and open-access. All posters from the MesoLife conference were published in this volume and are available! The papers presented one those hot summer days in the Dolomites have recently been published in volume 423 of Quaternary International. (With a little something about recent Mesolithic finds in the Swiss Alps by Thomas Reitmaier and myself.) That makes an amazing total of 48 articles on alpine Mesolithic!
Late Mesolihtic scrapers from Arconciel/La Souche, Switzerland. Illustration: SAEF/AAFR
These two volume show how vibrant the research of the Mesolithic in alpine and mountainous enviroments has become of late and will undoubtly be shown to be valuable additions to our knowledge of the Mesolithic in Europe. Hats off to the MesoLife organisers and editors of these two volumes!
Posted in archaeology, archaeology - Mesolithic, Archäologie, Arconciel/La Souche, Fribourg, lithics, Mesolithikum, mesolithique, PhD, publication, Switzerland, tools use, Universität Zürich, use wear analysis
Tagged archaeology, Arconciel/La Souche, lithics, Mesolithic, PhD, preistoria alpina, publication, Schweiz, scraper, use wear analysis
A whole volume of Quaternary International dedicated to the Mesolithic of mountain environments in Europe has just been published! It is the result of the MesoLife conference in Selva di Cadore, Italy June 2014. It is full of Mesolithic goodies, including a little something by Thomas Reitmaier and me on a decade of Mesolithic research in the Alps of south eastern and central Switzerland.
Do have a look at the rest of the volume as well, though. We hope you enjoy the read!
MesoLife: A Mesolithic perspective on Alpine and neighbouring territories (Quaternary International, Vol. 423, Nov. 2016)
Edited by Federica Fontana, Davide Visentin, Ursula Wierer
Marcel Cornelissen, Thomas Reitmaier, 2016, Filling the gap: Recent Mesolithic discoveries in the central and south-eastern Swiss Alps, Quaternary International, Vol 423, 22 Nov., pp. 9-22, ISSN 1040-6182. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2015.10.121
Until 2007 only a handful of surface finds dating to between the end of the LGM and the Middle Neolithic were known in the alpine regions of central and south-eastern Switzerland. A number of recent rescue excavations, research projects and single finds have now shown the presence of people at high altitude in these parts of the Alps from the 9th millennium cal BC onwards. Both open-air sites and rock shelters are represented. Many sites lie above the valley floor, in the upper subalpine or alpine zones, and on routes to minor as well as major passes. Together with new palaeoenvironmental data, these archaeological finds allow us first insights into the nature of interaction of Mesolithic people in the south-eastern Swiss Alps with their social and natural environment, as well as their relationship with regions further afield. Furthermore, the finds allow us to start thinking about future research into the early prehistory of the south-eastern Swiss Alps.
Keywords: Alps; Excavation; Mesolithic; Survey; Switzerland
Posted in Alpine Archäologie, archaeology, archaeology - Mesolithic, Ausgrabung, excavation, Fieldwork, Mesolithikum, publication, Switzerland
Tagged Alpen, alps, archaeology, Fieldwork, mesolife, Mesolithic, mesolithique, publication, Schweiz, Switzerland
About two weeks ago Laure Bassin and I presented our PhD research at the Universität Zürich. And that’s not it yet. We are very excited to annouce that this Thursday, December 8th, we will be talking (in German) about the “Gestures of Transitions” project at the Berner Zirkel für Ur- und Frühgeschichte. Samichlaus will be off again by then, but it will be a bag full of Mesoltihic goodies for everyone! Artefact biographies, use wear, chaînes opératoires, all based on our research on the lithic material from Arconciel/La Souche and Lutter/St-Joseph. In short the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Switzerland from a different point of view. The Berner Zirkel talks are aimed at the general public. Do look in if you are nearby. We would live to see you there!
Donnerstag 8.12.2016 18:30 – Universität Bern, Hörsaal 114
Steingeschichten. Das Endmesolithikum zwischen Voralpen und Jura, geschrieben von den letzten Jäger- und Sammler/innen
Mit ihrer für das schweizerische Mittelland einzigartigen Stratigraphie ermöglicht es die Fundstelle Arconciel/La Souche (Kt. Freiburg) 2000 Jahre des Mesolithikums zu erforschen. Die ebenfalls vor wenigen Jahren untersuchte Fundstelle Lutter/St. Joseph (Elsass, FR) dient dabei als Vergleich. Im Nationalfonds-Projekt «Gestures of Transitions» wird mit neuen methodologischen Ansätzen das Ende des Mesolithikums im peri-alpinen Europa untersucht. Im Zentrum stehen Artefaktbiographien und die Kombination von technischen Untersuchungen und Gebrauchsspurenanalysen.
Wie wiederspiegeln sich die tiefgreifenden sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Veränderungen am Übergang zum Neolithikum in der Herstellung und im Gebrauch der Artefakte? Und erlauben sie es die Geschichten, welche sich an den zwei Orten abspielten, zu rekonstruieren?
Experimentally cutting wild boar bone with hafted lithic tools. Photo: M. Cornelissen
The Berner Zirkel is also on Facebook
with all sorts of new about archaeology in the canton of Berne and the region.
Posted in archaeology, archaeology - Mesolithic, gestures of transition, lithics, Lutter/St. Joseph, Mesolithikum, mesolithique, PhD, Switzerland, use wear analysis
Tagged Archäologie, Arconciel/La Souche, Bern, Berner Zirkel, Lutter/St. Joseph, Mesolithic, Mesolithikum, PhD, Schweiz, use wear analysis
So, have you been cooking? What do you cook on a busy day? Right, back to business. This Wednesday Laure Bassin and I will be talking (in German) about the “Gestures of Transitions” project a the Universität Zürich. An hour of Mesolithic, artefact biographies, use wear, chaînes opératoires, Arconciel/La Souche, Lutter/St-Joseph; the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Switzerland from a different point of view. So, if you are anywhere near Zürich on wednesday, do look in. We look forward to seeing you!
Wed. 23rd Nov. 2016. 18:15 – Universität Zürich, ARCH, FB Prähistorische Archäologie, Karl-Schmid-Str. 4 – Raum KO2-F-153
Steingeschichten. Das Endmesolithikum zwischen Voralpen und Jura, geschrieben von den letzten Jäger- und Sammler/innen
MA Laure Bassin (Université de Neuchâtel), Marcel Cornelissen, MA (Universität Zürich)
Im Rahmen des «Gestures of Transitions»-Projektes wird der Übergang Mesolithikum-Neolithikum am Nordrand der Alpen untersucht. Grundstein dieser Untersuchung ist eine innovative, kombinierte Analyse der Technologie, der chaȋnes opératoires sowie der makro- und mikroskopischen Gebrauchsspuren an den geschlagenen Steinartefakten aus gut stratifizierten Fundensemble von Arconciel/La
Souche (Kt. Freiburg) und Lutter/St. Joseph (Elsass, Frankreich) aus dem 7./6. Jt. v. Chr.). Das Projekt untersucht ob und wie sich die tiefgreifenden sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Änderungen am Übergang zum Neolithikum in der Herstellung und im Gebrauch der Artefakte wiederspiegeln. Die Entwicklung in den Gesten der Werkzeugherstellung und des Gebrauchs lässt neues Licht auf die letzten Jäger- und Sammler/innen im peri-alpinen Europa werfen.
Posted in archaeology, Archäologie, Arconciel/La Souche, gestures of transition, lithics, Lutter/St. Joseph, Mesolithic, Mesolithikum, mesolithique, Neolithic, tools use, Universität Zürich, use wear analysis
Tagged Archäologie, Arconciel/La Souche, Gestures of Transition, Lutter/St. Joseph, Mesolithic, mesolithique, PhD, Universität Zürich
Last week I spend in a self-imposed writing retreat. I’ve found that this, if I am at the right stage in my work and feel like it (it can get lonely), gives my productivity a good boost. It works for me; I was able to get on really well with a large chapter of my PhD that I had been struggling with for a while. You might want to give it a try. The old advice of sleep well, exercise and eat well, however boring it may sound, is sound as well. But when you are writing you want to write and you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking. Next to the cabin in which I spend my retreat grows a lovely fig tree and against all the odds I still got a handful of ripe figs every day all week. So, what better then to use them for an easy, tasty dinner?
MARCEL’S FIG PIZZA
We’re doing this the easy way, right? So I buy a ready made pizza base/dough. You can buy ones here (Switzerland) which are ca. 30cm diam. (ca. 3-320 g) and you just need to roll them out. The kind of cheese I use depends a bit what happens to be lying about in the fridge. What I think works best is a combination of a milder cheese, such as a vacherin, emmentaler, jongbelegen or mild cheddar, with something with a bit more taste, like an old gruyère, parmesan or something else, as long as it melts well.
You might not get figs anymore this time of year. It works a treat with pears as well!
It is a good snack for 2, perhaps with a small salad. Or it will make one hungry PhD student happy.
this year’s last figs
- 1 pizza doug
- ca. 4-5 ripe figs or a decent sized pear
- 2 hands full of grated cheese (see above; you can never have enough cheese on anything, can you?)
- a few slices of dry-cured ham (prosciutto di parma, jamon serrano, Schwarzwälder Schinken, something like that)
- some chopped garlic, if you want
- 1 tb olive oil
Now, get cookin’:
- lay/roll out the pizza dough and prepare as described on the packaging
- rub lightly with some oil and sprinkle over some salt if you want
- spread the cheese over the base
- sprinkle with a bit of thyme
- tear up the ham and spread it over the cheese
- cut the figs in quarters – or the pear in thin-ish slices – and place on the pizza
Bake at ca. 240ºc in the bottom half of the oven until the cheese has melted and the base is crisp, probably about 12 min (but you might want to look at the instructions on the dough packaging, though!).
Enjoy, and remember you can’t write on an empty stomach!
P.S. So, what food keeps you writing?
We have spend a few amazing autumn days on a lake in the Swiss Alps. My amazing, supportive wife has now left me alone at the lake to spend a week to try and finish a section of my PhD thesis in splendid solitude.
Well that, and to eat the last ripe figs of the tree!
So, that’s that. Last week I had the honour and immense pleasure to help dig a few trenches at Las Gondas in the Fimbertal, between the Lower Engadin and Paznaun valleys. The Rückwege project was initiated by Thomas Reitmaier in 2006 and this might or might not turn out to have been the last ever field season. 10 years of multi-disciplinary and highly successful alpine archaeological fieldwork have come to an end. It was a fantastic time and a great week away from the PhD. A week in which a wonderful group of archaeologists and friends, who have all been involved in the project over the years, got together to excavate a system of animal pens in the beautiful Fimber valley. We managed to sort out the stratigraphy and expect it to be prehistoric, perhaps chronologically comparable to the Iron Age hut ruins we excavated further down the valley. But, as so often in the Alps, finds are scarce. So, we’ll have to wait for the 14-C dates to come back.
On the way to the office.
Fimbertal, Isometrische Projektion. Hangs in a hallway in the Heidelbergerhütte.
View over Las Gondas to the end of the Fimber valley.
Someone has to be boss, right?
… a little to the left … yes, and now the right side up a bit …
Aren’t we modern?
Snow. It’s traditional, you know.
We’ve actually finished most of the documention as well. All ready for the archive.
Can you see it?
Rückweg(e). Everything has an end.
I would like to thank my friends, and especially Thomas, for their companionship, the laughs, the snoring, the Streusel, the EIER, the Schnapps, wine and beer, the snow, Lassiter, the tons of charcoal and the many buckets full of dirt and stone. Do have a look at Thomas’s post on the Silvretta-Historica blog, which I’ve linked to below as well!
sodalla – wir sind also schon wieder gut zurück aus dem schönen fimbertal und einer sehr erfolgreichen einwöchigen grabungskampagne im gebiet las gondas … . das hauptanliegen, die dortigen pferchstrukturen genauer zu untersuchen und hoffentlich im verlauf der nächsten wochen auch mittels 14c-datierungen zeitlich einzuordnen, haben wir mit einem ausgezeichneten und hochmotivierten grabungsteam problemlos erreicht, trotz der mitunter etwas widrigen wetterbedingungen … (CLICK ON THIS LINK TO THE SILVRETTA-HISTORICA PROJECT BLOG FOR MORE INFO AND LOTS OF GREAT PHOTOS FROM THE FIELDWORK!)
Posted in alpine archaeology, Alpine Archäologie, archaeology, Ausgrabung, excavation, Fieldwork, Graubünden, Photography, Switzerland
Tagged alpine archaeology, Alpine Archäologie, Fimbertal, Graubünden, Schweiz, Silvretta Historica, Val Fenga