Artefacts elaborated by the Paleolithic hominids of Bolomor Cave are produced, mainly, for their most immediate needs and are a consequence of an evolutive apprenticeship both mental and collective, transmitted between generations of “craftsmen”. Humans use diverse types of strong rocks as prime materials, recovered within the territory they travell on. These lithic instruments are obtained by striking the adequate rocks and so producing fragments, called flakes, which are then transformed by reduction (modifying the cutting edge) into denticulate tools, scrapers, racloirs, etc. The different tools of these periods have a multifunctional aim and are not as specialized or specific as nowadays. These serve for different actions: cutting, scraping, triturating, sawing, etc. Wood, the other material used, especially for weapons, might have had an important role which is, however, rarely documented in excavations due to its easy destruction. Use of bone in these periods is very limited and controversial.
The types of rock or raw material found in Bolomor are, in order importance: flint, limestone, quartzite and, finally, others.
Flint is a rock formed by siliceous aggregation. Flint is found in Bolomor Cave as nodules or small sized rocks. In a proximate area, the primary deposits of flint which have been detected correspond to a level of grey limestone, from the geological Coniacian-Santonian floor, in which can be found, occasionally, flint nodules. Flint can also be found in the Dogger base, with good flint cores, and also, in Santonian levels. Although in this last one, we find flint of a lower quality in sabulosas inter-stratiphications with quartzite grains. The sand littoral includes some of these pieces and their morphology indicate, sometimes partially, a rounded modeling, due to the hardness of the flint. The primary source of these deposits has not been detected. It has, possibly, a relationship with old continental basins and with the input, all along the geological history, of the nearest rivers (Xúquer, Vaca and Serpis). Although, it can also be the result of the input of other rivers, not so proximate, and so explaining the wide distribution of the prime materials. In this way, they can be considered elements related to an old marine habitat.
Quartzite is a sedimentary or metamorphic rock formed by quartz grains and siliceous cement. Quartzite found in Bolomor comes from territories of the Primary age, eroded and deposited in various geological cycles in secondary, tertiary and quaternary basins and, part of them, taken to the sea by rivers. Studied materials indicate a Primary, Permian-Triassic and Wealdian belonging for the different breccia.
There is no quartzite primary stratum related to the valencian basin of the Xúquer, although there are secondary deposits of a tertiary basin, dated as Helvecian-Tortonian and of the Upper Pliocene (Jaraguas Formation). These are mainly conglomerated deposits with Cretaceous and Jurassic calcareous elements and quartzite rocks with a clay matrix, poorly consistent. Reddish quartzite with a iron component is related with Permothriasic levels, as are the green ones, although these last ones could have a nearer relation with grauwcas primary deposits. Grey and yellow quartzite, with breccias of less volume, seems to be associated clearly to the Weald facies, well represented in the Xuquer basin.
All boulders are very rounded with sub spherical morphologies and without mechanical impacts in their cortical surfaces, which indicates an abundant water flux in the genesis of their modeling. They don’t present rounded flat morphologies, characteristic of marine boulders.
It seems obvious that they were transported by the Xúquer River all along their geological history, from their origin until the littoral area, where they were taken and transformed by men.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock. That found in Bolomor Cave is micrite and comes from blue and green banks of the Oxfordian age located mainly in the eastern side of the ‘Agulles’ Sierra, although they present a wide distribution in ‘La Ribera’ and ‘La Safor’ provinces. Many of these pieces are eroded and decalcified, making it difficult to identify their cortical surfaces, when comparing with flint or quartzite. The presence of colluvial breccias with rounded edges, although not sub spherical, make the classification of the possible fluvial or marine rounded modeled, difficult. However, certain pieces present an undeniable flat marine morphology, although are scarce all along the lithostratigraphic sequence of Bolomor. These micrite elements are the ones that potentially respond better because of their less hardness to the marine abrasive modeling.
These three types of rocks form the 99% of those found in the site. There are other rocks represented by few examples as are quartz, sandstone, chalcedony, jasper, ophite…
Interpreting prime materials, the flint present in pebble beaches nowadays certifies the marine origin of this. The elements recognized in Bolomor’s sequence are small pebbles with an average size of 20-30 mm, strongly rounded and, many of them, with a flat morphology. They can also be recovered in other coastal areas of Valencia and are not exclusive of La Safor region, where the site is located. It is, however, the first site which we know which uses these pebbles as a prime material. The location of these in the sequence shows a frequent access to the littoral.
Micrite limestone shows an important colluvial and fluvial component in Bolomor’s lithostratigraphic sequence. This data along with the scarce flat morphologies identified, show a major use of mountainous lithic resources than coastal lithic resources. Bolomor’s quartzite, because of its characteristics, indicates a fluvial deposit in the lower basin of the Xuquer river with a posterior transformation due to the changes in the coastal line. The existence of old covered deposits, formed by the hard precipitation on the valley, configuring terraces, is also possible. Quartzite indicates the presence of a fluvial habitat in the pre-littoral area. At a prehistorical level we appreciate a strong use of quartzite in the basal moments of Bolomor, decreasing and finally loosing importance along the sequence. This can be due to the disappearing of the deposits, which seems logical, or by anthropic selection causes, or by both. The scarce pits taken place in the valley have not detected the presence of levels with quartzite gravel.
The industrial structure recovered is the totality of lithic materials manipulated and transformed by man. Two big groups configure Bolomor’s lithic industry: production and exploitation elements (cores, boulders and hammerstones) and elements produced which are obtained by the interaction with the ones firstly mentioned. One of the main aims is to arrange the lithic record into the corresponding structural established categories (hammerstones, boulders,cores, cutting remains, debris, small flakes, flakes and retouched products) as their absence or presence results of an exceptional importance. We have considered as ‘configured products’ all of those which have been obtained intentionally by debitage. These are grouped in two categories: retouched products and un-retouched or flakes. The difference between both is in the existence or not of retouch. We have classified as non configured products the rest of categories, which are results of the preparation and manipulation of the configured products, classifying them in three categories according to their morphological and metrical attributes: lithic reduction remains or non identifiable fragments, debris or lithic products inferior to 10 mm and small flakes with an inferior size of 20 mm.
Typology arises a need of elaborating taxonomic and descriptive classifications, before starting with functional studies. Typology used in Bolomor is has a typological character and doesn’t pretend a functional inference. It’s the study of a “population” of artifacts considered homogenous, which share a repeated systematic spectrum of attributes, inside a polythetic set. Therefore, it’s a strictly taxonomic classification which tries to find and define values with an irreducible character or variables which are epistemically independent inside the specific reference mark. To these complex values we consider the different polythetic series, observed jointly and repeatedly in individual artifacts. It’s not possible to propose a functional typology, as the function of the objects does not only depend in their form but on cultural variables also. As well, shapes and forms can have many types of functions, so it is non-viable to establish typological/functional categories.
The use of the concept ‘type’ is only typological (specific artifact type) and is not a synonym of any function. “Type” categories are grouped in the corresponding typological lists where the type is an artifact which shares a series of attributes with a minor affinity than the subtype or variant of the artifact with an elevated level of affinity. We propose different subtypes, concerning specially scrapers, denticulate tools whose attributes allow us this specific grouping.
The use or reference to the method Bordes does not obey to ideological positions, but to pragmatic positions, as it’s the easiest and most extended comparative method. Methodologically it’s essential to accept a systematic model which allows us to homogenize the classifications of the lithic tools. Evaluate the validity of the different criteria used in the present typological proposals is an effort which is superior to the limits of this study. We have done modifications concerning to particular structures of aspects related to morphological or technological factors, as the grouping of the retouched double fronts or the outlining of some attributes. We have explained those variables which are considered essential in the typological groups and we have looked for elements of a major complexity and synthesis in the sine of the typological group studied.
Typological and industrial indexes are a way to systemize the typological reality, a way to circumscribe the specificity, of interpreting the attributes. We present these in the different studies of Bolomor next to other metric indexes (elongation index) and according to the productive sequence or extraction arrangement.
MICROLITHISM AND MACROLITHISM
The so called “microlithism” has a relevant industrial character, as it represents the confection of retouched products over flakes with a size of 20mm or less. Microlithism is present all along Bolomor Cave’s sequence. The name of “microlith” does not refer to a technological concept from the leptolithic industry of the Upper Paleolithic and the Late Glacial maximum. Here we speak of small formats, very different to the standards of the Middle Pleistocene and the beginning of the Upper Pleistocene industries.
The techno-functional process of elaboration of these small tools, all in flint, appears all along the Recent Middle Pleistocene, both in Bolomor, as in other European sites and is not only found in advanced moments, as it was initially proposed. This “microlithism” reveals a highly rentable production with a decrease of cost and resources, and, from this optic, would be an innovative technical process of the functional spectrum without modifying the types of tools used in the instrumental group.
These new instruments are possibly related to new functional and economical needs as can be a specific and intense processing of some preys. Their possible holder and their specific functionality -high specialization- are, by the moment, unknown, due to the lack of traceologic studies. Its development is presented as homogenous all along the sequence and much related to the prime material -flint- independently of its morphology and, in a last instance, more dependent of the occupation character.
“Macrolithism”, as a typometric character, is related to the local and immediate provisioning to the site of prime resources. This characteristic of “extreme format” indicates that the tool -mainly big flakes- has little functionality and is interpreted as very little specialized. It’s also related to resources of a small risk with strategies of a wide spectrum; a very little varied tool which would adapt to “high tolerant” circumstances. At Bolomor, macro-tools are situated, at some levels, in a very unequal way and is little significant as a whole: big limestone flakes and retouched tools for a short and immediate use. Theses formats arrive already configured to the site and their use is limited to the campsite. The specificity of the macro-tools present in Bolomor must be related with the characteristics of the multiple activities intersite related to the existent occupational pattern.
LITHIC OPERATIVE CHAINS
The study of the industry allows us to speak, in a techno-psychological sense, of an evolution in the lithic reduction strategies from the basal moments of Bolomor Cave (ca 350.000 years) until the last part of the sequence (ca 90.000 years). In this evolution we appreciated an increase of the complexity and predetermination in the production of holders. However, it’s necessary to indicate two aspects: On one side, the theoretical development of the operative chains which are presented, are exposed without obtaining refits of these which confirm their evolutive scheme. On the other side, the phases proposed are not industrial or techno-typological, but are climatic-chronological, in order to locate the technological characteristics of the study. The technological analysis adjusts to these chronostratigraphic regional phases indicating the following characteristics:
–Phases I and II. The oldest operative chains identified of the Regional Middle Paleolithic correspond to level XVII of Bolomor Cave (ca 350.000 years) and indicate the existence of a techno complex of flakes with very little incidence of levallois; the marginal presence of macro tools -with the absence of hand axes- with an acheulean typology; and a predominance of denticulate tools and racloirs, frequently elaborated on cortical pieces. This data, along with a less technological elaboration of the tools in respect to Upper levels (OIS 5e), shows that the tools where produced by sporadic human occupations of short duration. The prime material predominantly selected is flint (65,5%), although quartzite of thick grain and micrite limestone are also present in an important percentage. Flint is present in cores with a good size (7 cm), and many cortical products which indicate a big blank selection, with a maximum length superior to 10cm and whose initial work starts, most probably, in the site, or at least, developed in a great part. Documented supports in the operative schemes of debitage are nodules and boulders, without characteristic schemes over flakes.
The analysis of the different elements of the operative lithic chain starts in the study of the cores. Between the cores we observe a predominance of those who have 3 cm of maximum length with a slightly elongated morphology and extractions in a transversal unidirectional manner. These are normally thick in section, with two exploited surfaces and certain asymmetry between them both. Flat surfaces are the ones which present most variable directions in their extractions, getting to be single-poled or orthogonally convergent. Exploitation seems to be developed in parallel single-poled series of extractions which part from a wide and flat surface (percussion plane). This surface can be cortical (flint with a fine cortex) and be generated by a lateral extraction (orthogonal) respect to the future series, or by one or various extractions in the same sense, forming a secant intersection plain.
Reduction looks nearly always for well highlighted intersection angles, which generate normally thick flakes, with a smooth platform (or talon), marked bulb and flaked angles near 120°. Products generated normally have negatives in a nearly exclusively single-poled sense, and offer some deviation (difference between the technical axis and the morphological axis). The morphologies of these are predominantly thick and short. In less sized flakes and in a greater number of negatives they can be more flattened and, occasionally, overflowing.
For the confection of reduced tooling humans select, preferably, flakes, although they also use some finished cores or even cores in full production. There’s also some example of tools configured with continuous reduction (scraper) over small boulders (3 cm). Documented tools don’t usually show an intense configuration or revivals which modify substantially the morphology of the original support. When this phenomenon takes place, apparently on fully productive flakes (very little or non-cortical), the morphological types produced offer carenated fronts, as some pointing tools such as the Tayac and Quinson projectile point. Nevertheless, in the major part of the tooling over flake there is very little modification, obtaining, frequently, lateral racloirs from cortical and semi-cortical flakes, and deviated and transversal racloirs of flakes in full production or with a small presence of cortex, occasionally, with the entire perimeter retouched. To produce notches, (clactonian type) thick supports are chosen, whilst small flakes (around 2-3 cm) present a retouch normally in a sole border, continuous and denticulate.
Regarding to the relation between the primary source used and its managing and transformation, we observe that limestone (16%) seems to be introduced in the cave in already elaborated cores or in angled blocks or boulders. We scarcely find flakes with a natural rounded surface, due to the difficulty of their identification. Although there is a wide metric range of flakes in this prime material, the selection of supports for reducing is normally focused on those of major dimensions (7-8 cm), in which there is a denticulate retouch opposite to a straight reverse.
On the other hand, quartzite, with a good percentage representation (18%), shows, in the most recent phases, a repertoire of cortical and semi-cortical products which can be related with the introduction of complete or nearly complete boulders into the site. The major part of the supports selected for reducing are flakes of this nature, from in between 4 and 6 cm, whose retouch, normally partial and denticulate, modifies by little the original morphology of the support. Only in some cases these supports suffer a major configuration or are revived, producing pointed types over overflowing flakes or racloirs/denticulate tools with a thick front on cortical supports. On the same way, some finished up cores are selected as support of tools of the denticulate type.
Finally, the treatment which the quartzite receives seems similar to flint, except for the presence of very configured/revived tools. The small difference between the use of quartzite and flint seem du e to the major difficulty to perform revivals in quartzite. Limestone, however, seems destined to the configuration of tools of a great format and maybe to the use of flakes of a smaller size without retouch of any type. In this sense we can speak of “primary resources economy”. About the selection of specific supports for the creation of certain types of tool, fundamentally in the case of flint, we can speak of a behavior of “debitage economy”.
–Phase III. The best documented operative chains in this phase correspond to level XII of Bolomor Cave (ca 180.000 years). These sets of the OIS 6 -levels XII-VII- present a dominion of flakes of limestone with very little retouch in tools and presence of macrolithic elements not acheulean with an intersite elaboration related to very ephemeral occupations. The predominant material in this sequence’s stretch is micrite limestone (66%), above flint (29%) or quartzite (5%).
The exploitation schemes of limestone are only found on boulders. Many of the cores introduced in the site have not been completely finished up, finding some of them abandoned with 10cm dimensions, still in a productive phase. In this phase, cores present, frequently, two asymmetric surfaces, one of them more flattened and with sub parallel extractions to the theoretical intersection plain. The limit of the exploitation of the cores in this prime material seems to be fixed in 5cm of maximum length, moment in which they are abandoned with a more symmetrical morphology between surfaces, being so both convex.
Direction and order of the negatives seem to indicate a hierarchy in the recovering of supports, preferably in the most flattened surface. Negatives of the convex surface are centripetal and secant, in opposite to centripetal negatives, and sub parallel to the intersection plane, frequently posterior to those realized in the convex surface. About the generated products, the flaking angles offer values between 90º-100º, in normally smoothed platforms or, more rarely, dihedrals or faceted, next to little prominent bulbs. Documented flakes in this prime material are mainly thick, of a triangular section and with a reverse, be it cortical or core bordered, and with a tendency to be parallel, or slightly divergent, in respect to the technical axis. In the same way, overflowing flakes and pseudo-levallois points are predominant, as are the thick and symmetric flakes (“squared flake”) or, more rarely, flattened flakes (levallois type). The conception of débitage can be situated, therefore, in those of two surfaces like levallois in its recurrent centripetal modality or the hierarchical discoid type.
Blanks which present retouch -normally of a scarce impact over its original morphology- are overflowing flakes with a thick section. Retouched borders are normally denticulate, marginal and inverse, alternate and alternant, and are located in acute and sinuous borders (reverse knives) or reinforcing a present pointing in the supporting flake (pseudo-levallois projectile points). In some cases they present a major configuration with entering reduction, tending to create convergent denticulate tools. In this level we also document the presence of macro-tools, normally, with a single facial configuration, with the example of a rabot on boulder with plain fissures of 15cm. There are also abundant hammerstones, with thick and elongated morphologies, and with a slightly superior weight of 300 grams.
In the use of flint there is an elevated proportion of retouched tools, which suppose a 66, 6% of the pieces of this prime material, in front to limestone tools which are a 25% of them. This fact, along with the low presence of cores (1 core, 51 pieces), remains, fragments and flakes, make us think that the production of supports in this material is a very little represented activity. It’s quite probable that, in this case, the supports were directly introduced or even, previously retouched. Examples where we appreciate an intense modification of the original support are rare. When such a modification is intense, normally with raised reduction, denticulate tools or thick racloirs are configured.
The type of blanks chosen to retouch present a high proportion of cortical and semi cortical flakes transformed in lateral racloirs. In the case of flakes little or non-cortical, with centripetal negatives in their dorsal face and smoothened platforms -dihedrals or sporadically faceted-, the debitage which seems to have generated them is quite alike to the documented in the case of limestone (hierarchical discoid or centripetal recurrent levallois). In this case, reduction is developed frequently in the ventral face, such as inverse continuous alternate and alternant reducing, (double and convergent racloirs) or denticulate tools. This reduction on the inferior face seems, in many cases, destined to centre the dihedral of the supporting flake and to reinforce existent pointing. Like in limestone, overflowing flakes are habitual (dorsal knives) with a slight denticulate retouch opposite to the reverse or without modification.
The recycling of tools, like cores, to obtain new blanks could be present in many flint pieces, although its presence is merely testimonial (8%). On the same way, the intensifying of the retouch over a part of the tools and the sporadic selection of small boulders for the configuration of tools (façonnage) seem to indicate a little intensive use of flint, and even less, in quartzite.
–Phase IV. The best documented operative chains of this phase correspond to level IV of Bolomor Cave (ca 120.000 years) in which we register a major intensity and reiteration of the human occupations inside the site’s sequence. The most recent sets of the interphase OIS 5e -levels I to VI of Bolomor- present intense occupation stages with small format industries and high reuse of flint. The industry, elaborated over various discoid, levallois and irregular cores, shows significant techno-typological changes in respect to other older phases, with diversified retouch of the tools and typological indexes with a predominance of charentian and deviated racloirs.
Lithic industry of level IV offers an intense use, especially in the case of flint (84%) which is, again, the predominant selected material. Limestone, the second material in numerical importance (14%), seems destined to the production of flakes with a major format, whilst quartzite, quartz and sandstone ones have a testimonial representation (0,7%).
In the flint’s case, elevated proportion of fragments stands out. This can be related to a fracturing in the lithic reduction process. We appreciate an elevated proportion of reduction in pieces superior to 2 cm (20%), in front of flakes of the same metric range which have not been reduced (14%). The abandoned pieces, with these same sizes, generated by an elastic reduction (smooth hammerstone or smooth stone) surpass the 20%, which allows us to suppose an importance of the configuration and revival processes of big racloirs which, however, are scarcely present in the level. Cores, till some point abundant (7%), are very finished up, presenting, a third of them, retouch in one or more of their borders during final reduction phases.
The analysis of debitage results, in this case, difficult to approach exclusively from the study of the cores (which are finished up or recycled whilst useful), can be, nevertheless, approached starting from the product looked for in the reduction process. Flakes in this level frequently present a reverse (1/3 of them). This reverse, which can be straight, is, frequently, tilted and convergent in respect to the technical axis -oblique-. The majority of the flakes, overflowing or not, present wide, flat and deviated morphologies, being the negatives previous to their extraction single-poled, or, more rarely, bipolar. In the same way, dorsal surfaces with remains of ventral faces of the supporting flake (kombewa), are frequent, this can be detected both in reverses and talones. The remains of continuous reduction in reverse or talons, previous to the extraction of the flake, allow us to determine an important recycling of tools, working as cores.
Cores are characterized by a slightly elongated volume, in two or three surfaces, and with negatives in a transversal line, very frequently single-poled and occasionally bipolar, with a major incidence towards one of the extremities which normally offers a trihedral section. The major part of finished up cores (2-3 cm) over flake, or whose support is not recognizable, present two asymmetric surfaces or three surfaces. Schemes on flake or on tools recycled in core are found in a 21% of flakes in rough, in a 27% of tools and in a 22% of cores. In cores, with a frequent triangular shape and somewhat flattened, we observe a major insistence towards one of the borders, which can be cut previous secant extractions, delimiting the reverse of the overflowing flakes obtained in this lateral.
Cores on boulders (till 4-5 cm of maximum length) are structured, normally, in two surfaces, with single-poled or bipolar opposite negatives convergent towards an extremity. In some cases, only one of the faces has been exploited (unifacial discoid type), although, frequently, there are two faces which are exploited in a unidirectional line. We document, also, the selection of boulders of reduced sizes (3 cm) for their configuration. The reduction applied looks for intersection angles near to 80-90º, with strongly prepared cornices; talons are usually smooth, and very often, convex (especially when they use a ventral face of support flake as a reduction plane).
Both cores as products generated are near to those produced in a levallois debitage conception, with some peculiarities. Cores are normally elongated and exploited transversally; whilst flakes generated by this type of exploitation are usually deviated. In this sense, they are in a special way the overflowing flakes -which can be considered as characteristic products-, which capture a third opposite surface to the reduction plane and convergent according to this.
There is a preference for the selection of cortical flakes (initially those of major dimensions) for the confection of convergent racloirs in two or more borders when they offer an intense configuration. These same supports can be revived and reduced considerably the original dimensions. Semi cortical flakes rarely present reduction, being used as natural dorsal knives. Also, they stay untouched, or with little retouch, flakes with a good size (4-5 cm) and intense preparation (predetermined) of levallois type; whilst other flakes obtained in full production are normally retouched as racloirs or denticulate tools, whose retouched fronts are deviated as a result of the characteristics of the support. In the case of overflowing flakes (marginal retouch) or a major transformation (deviated convergent racloirs) they don’t affect in any case the structure (reverse) of the flake. Numerous small flakes (17-18 mm) present continuous reductions in one of their borders. On the same way, we have detected reduction in some of the discarded flakes, which can show a reuse of these. In this sense, numerous cores, especially thick ones with a trihedral extremity, present continuous reduction next to this extremity. This is, apparently, a secondary or indirect configuration, and consequently, a recycling of these types of elements.
There is multiple recycling and reuse options documented in level IV in all its variants, with small changes in function of the lithological characteristics of flint, but always in signifying percentages, affecting to nearly a third of the totality of remains superior in size to 2cm. This technological behavior is expressed, in this case, in an intensive way over those better quality prime materials. However, it’s difficult to evaluate if the prime material was introduced untouched in the site, or, if on the contrary, was taken as flakes and supporting tools configured for the creation of new supports and tools after different processes of recycling.
In summary, the lithic assemblages of Bolomor present characteristics of techno-typological variability related with the occupation patterns of habitat places. The defined features of the same are a clear standardization of tools, systems of varied exploitation and a variation of the use of the prime material due to the adequacy between function and economy of the supports. These tools on flakes, present in the Middle Pleistocene with “Mousterian” characteristics in principally stylistic terms, sees how the reduction and reuse of pieces increase in the most advanced moments of the sequence, arriving to the Initial Upper Pleistocene.
In respect to the processing of lithic tools in the inside of the site, the research has demonstrated that the developed labors vary in function, principally, of the duration of the human occupation of the cave. Far from presenting a lithic uniform repertoire, this varies in prime material, reuse and development of processes, like debitage economy, prime material economy and recycled economy, etc., according to needs and required applications by the occupational pattern. Functionality, efficiency and profitability of the management are the motors of this diversity. These campsite activities, far from being simple, present a high diversity and complexity, in the limits of their evolutive technological and ecosocial development.