Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 4423–4435 | Cite as

Reconstructing technology, mobility and land use via intra- and inter-site refits from the Gravettian of the Swabian Jura

  • Andreas TallerEmail author
  • Petra Kieselbach
  • Nicholas J. Conard
Original Paper


The Swabian Gravettian, which is often equated with the Middle Upper Palaeolithic in the German research tradition (e.g. Bosinski, 2008), is limited to a small number of cave sites in a restricted area of the Middle and Eastern Swabian Jura, namely in the Ach and—possibly—Lone valleys. These caves, however, are an important part of Central European prehistory, since the sites yielded early radiocarbon ages covering the timespan from 35 to 31 ka cal. BP (Conard and Bolus 2003; Moreau, 2009a; Higham et al. 2012; Taller and Conard 2016). Technologically and typologically, the lithic assemblages also reflect an early Gravettian. Refits of lithic artefacts are known from Brillenhöhle (Lauxmann and Scheer 1986) and Geißenklösterle (Moreau 2009a), as well as Hohle Fels (Floss and Kieselbach 2004). These refits are vital for our understanding of the taphonomy and stratigraphy of the sites as well as for the technological analysis of lithic blank production. Here, the main focus on intra-site refits will be on Hohle Fels. Thus far no refits are known from the Gravettian of the Lone Valley. Moreover, the question is, whether the supposed Gravettian remains from the sites of Vogelherd and Bockstein-Törle do actually reflect Middle Upper Palaeolthic occupations. A remarkable feature of the Ach Valley Gravettian are refits between the sites of Brillenhöhle, Geißenklösterle, Hohle Fels and possibly also Sirgenstein (Scheer 1990; Moreau 2009a), which inform us on land use and settlement patterns in the Middle Upper Palaeolithic of Central Europe. Refits from the Ach Valley document a contemporaneous use of at least three of the four caves with Gravettian deposits, while intra-site refits facilitate the study of site formation processes and the spatial use of these important caves. With this paper, we aim to contribute to a better understanding of Gravettian lithic technology, hunter-gatherer mobility and land-use patterns in Swabia as well as the taphonomy of the sites discussed.


Upper Palaeolithic Gravettian Middle Upper Palaeolithic Swabian Jura Central Europe Lithic refits Lithic technology Gravettian settlement patterns 



We would like to thank the DFG for funding AT’s research (DFG - GZ TA 1039/3 - 1). For further support, thanks are due to the State Office of Cultural Heritage Baden Württemberg as well as the Alb-Donau-Kreis. Dr. Guido Bataille contributed in many valuable discussions, and Alexander Janas and Maria Malina were, as always, very helpful with technical questions; A. Janas further improved the plots considerably. Anna Rösch made a great last-minute-drawing, and finally Armando Falcucci helped with the editing of some of the illustrations. For the last 22 years, the excavations of Hohle Fels have been supported by the Heidelberger Cement Company, the DFG, the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften and the University of Tübingen. The workshop “The Big Puzzle 30 years after: A multidisciplinary, shared, Palaeolithic perspective” was kindly supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation Ref: Gr CONF-737.


  1. Barth M (2007) Familienbande? Die gravettienzeitlichen Knochen- und Geweihgeräte des Achtales (Schwäbische Alb). Verlag Marie Leidorf, Rahden/WestfahlenGoogle Scholar
  2. Binford L (1980) Willow smoke and dogs’ tails: hunter-gatherer settlement systems and archaeological site formation. Am Antiq 45(1):4–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blumentritt R, Hahn J (1990) Der Hohle Fels. Schelklinger Archäologische Führer, SchelklingenGoogle Scholar
  4. Bolus M (2010) Continuity or hiatus? The Swabian Aurignacian and the transition to the Gravettian. In: Neugebauer-Maresch Ch, Owen L (Eds.) New aspects of the central European Upper Palaeolithic – methods, chronology, technology and subsistence. Symposium by the prehistoric Commission of the Austrian Academy of sciences, Vienna, November 9–11, 2005 pp 139–150Google Scholar
  5. Bolus M, Conard NJ (2012) 100 Jahre Robert Rudolf Schmidts “Die diluviale Vorzeit Deutschlands”. Mitt Ges Urgesch 21:63–89Google Scholar
  6. Bosinski G (2008) Urgeschichte am Rhein. Kerns Verlag, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  7. Cahen D (1976) Das Zusammensetzen geschlagener Steinartefakte. Archäol Korrespond Bl 6:81–93Google Scholar
  8. Close A (2000) Reconstructing movement in prehistory. J Archaeol Method and Theory 7(1):49–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Conard NJ, Bolus M (2003) Radiocarbon dating the appearance of modern humans and timing of cultural innovations in Europe: new results and new challenges. J Hum Evol 44:331–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Conard NJ, Moreau L (2004) Current research on the Gravettian of the Swabian Jura. Mitt Ges Urgesch 13:29–60Google Scholar
  11. Conard NJ, Langguth K, Uerpmann HP (2003) Die Ausgrabungen 2003 in den Gravettien- und Aurignacien-Schichten des Hohle Fels bei Schelklingen, Alb-Donau-Kreis, und die kulturelle Entwicklung im frühen Jungpaläolithikum. Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg 2003:17–22Google Scholar
  12. Cziesla E, Eickhoff S, Arts N, Winter D (1987) The big puzzle. International symposium on refitting stone artefacts, Holos Verlag, BonnGoogle Scholar
  13. Cziesla E (1990) Siedlungsdynamik auf steinzeitlichen Fundplätzen: methodische Aspekte zur Analyse latenter Strukturen, Holos Verlag, BonnGoogle Scholar
  14. Floss H, Kieselbach P (2004) The Danube corridor after 29,000 BP – new results on raw material procurement patterns in the Gravettian of southwestern Germany. Mitt Ges Urgesch 13:61–78Google Scholar
  15. Guthrie D (1990) Frozen Fauna of the mammoth steppe: the story of blue babe. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hahn J (1984) Die steinzeitliche Besiedlung des Eselsburger Tales bei Heidenheim (Schwäbische Alb). Forschungen und Berichte zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte in Baden-Württemberg 17, Landesdenkmalamt Baden-Württemberg, Konrad Theis Verlag, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  17. Hahn J, Owen L (1985) Blade technology in the Aurignacian and Gravettian of Geißenklösterle Cave, Southwestern Germany. World Archaeol 17(1):61–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Higham TH, Basell L, Jacobi R, Wood R, Bronk Ramsey C, Conard NJ (2012) Testing models for the beginning of the Aurignacian and the advent of figurative art and music: the radiocarbon chronology of Geißenklösterle. J Hum Evol 62(6):664–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johansen L (2000) Fitting facts. Refitting analyses of lithic materials from Stone Age sites in The Netherlands, Denmark and Greenland. Ph.D. Thesis Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, University of Copenhagen, 2000Google Scholar
  20. Kelly RL (1995) The foraging spectrum. Percheron Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Lauxmann C, Scheer A (1986) Zusammensetzungen von Silexartefakten. Eine Methode zur Überprüfung archäologischer Einheiten (Refittings of lithic artefacts. A method for the review of archaeological units), Fundber Baden-Württ 11:101–131Google Scholar
  22. Marks AE, Chabai VP (2001) Construction of middle Palaeolithic settlement systems in Crimea: potentials and limitations. In: Conard NJ (ed) Settlement dynamics of the Middle Palaeolithic and Middle Stone Age. Kerns, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  23. Miller CE (2015) A tale of two Swabian caves. Geoarchaeological Investigations at Hohle Fels and Geißenklösterle. Kerns, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  24. Montet-White A (1988) Raw material economy among medium-sized Late Paleolithic campsites of Central Europe. In: Dibble H, Montet-White A (eds) Upper Pleistocene of Western Eurasia, vol 54. University Museum Monograph, Philadelphia, pp 361–374Google Scholar
  25. Moreau L (2009a) Geißenklösterle. Das Gravettien der Schwäbischen Alb im Europäischen Kontext. Kerns Verlag, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  26. Moreau L (2009b) Das Siedlungsmuster im Achtal zur Zeit des älteren Gravettien. Zum Beitrag einer neuen Steinartefaktzusammensetzung zwischen der Brillenhöhle und dem Geißenklösterle (Schwäbische Alb, Alb-Donau-Kr.). Archäol Korrespond Bl 6:81–93Google Scholar
  27. Münzel SC (2004) Subsistence patterns in the Gravettian of the Ach Valley, a former tributary of the Danube in the Swabian Jura. In: Svoboda J, Sedláčková C (eds) The Gravettian along the Danube. Proceedings of the Mikulov Conference, 20–21 November 2002, Institute of Archaeology Brno, The Dolní Vĕstonice Studies, vol 11, pp 71–85Google Scholar
  28. Münzel SC, Conard NJ, (2004) Cave bear hunting in the Hohle Fels, a cave site in the Ach Valley, Swabian Jura. Rev de Paléobiologie (23/2): 877–885Google Scholar
  29. Olive M, Pigeot N, Taborin Y, Yvon JM (2005) Toujours plus longue, une lame à crête exceptionelle à Étiolles (Essone). Revue archéologique de Picardie, numéro special 22:25–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pelegrin J (2000) Les techniques de débitage laminaire au Tardiglaciaire: critères de diagnose et quelques réflexions. In: Valentin B, Bodu P, Christensen M 2000 (Eds.) L’Europe central et septentrionale au Tardiglaciaire: confrontation des modèles régionaux de peuplement. Actes de la table-ronde international de Nemours, 14-16 mai 1997, Edition de l’association pour la promotion de la recherche archéologique en Ile-de-France, 73–86Google Scholar
  31. Pelegrin J, Karlin C, Bodu P (1988) Chaînes opératoires: un outil pour le préhistorien. In: Tixier J (ed) Technologie lithique. CNRS, ParisGoogle Scholar
  32. Riek G (1973) Das Paläolithikum der Brillenhöhle bei Blaubeuren (Schwäbische Alb). Verlag Müller & Gräff, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  33. Scheer A, (1990) Von der Schichtinterpretation bis zum Besiedlungsmuster – Zusammensetzungen als absoluter Nachweis. In: Cziesla E, Eickhoff S, Arts N, Winter D (Eds.): The big puzzle. International Symposium on Refitting Stone Artefacts, Holos Edition, Bonn 623–650Google Scholar
  34. Scheer A (1993) The organization of lithic resource use during the Gravettian in Germany. In: Knecht H, Pike-Tay A, White R (eds) Before Lascaux. The complex record of the early upper Palaeolithic. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 193–210Google Scholar
  35. Schiegl S, Goldberg P, Pfretzschner HP, Conard NJ (2003) Paleolithic burnt bone horizons from the Swabian Jura: distinguishing between in situ fire places and dumping areas. Geoarchaeology 18:541–565CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Schmidt RR (1910) Der Sirgenstein und die diluvialen Kulturstätten Württembergs. E. Schweizerbartsche Verlagsbuchhandlung, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  37. Schmidt RR (1912) Die diluviale Vorzeit Deutschlands. E. In: Schweizerbartsche Verlagsbuchhandlung Nägele & Dr. Sproesser, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  38. Taller A (2014) Das Magdalénien des Hohle Fels. Chronologische Stellung, Lithische Technologie und Funktion der Rückenmesser. Kerns Verlag, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  39. Taller A, Conard NJ (2016) Das Gravettien der Hohle Fels- Höhle und seine Bedeutung für die kulturelle Evolution des europäischen Jungpaläolithikums - The Gravettian of Hohle Fels Cave and its implications for the cultural evolution of the European Upper Palaeolithic Quartär 63 (2016):89–123Google Scholar
  40. Weissmüller W (1995) Sesselfelsgrotte II. Die Silexartefakte der Unteren Schichten der Sesselfelsgrotte. Ein Beitrag zum Problem des Moustérien. Saarbrücker Druckerei und Verlag, SaarbrückenGoogle Scholar
  41. Wetzel R (1954) Das Törle an der alten Bocksteinhöhle. Mitt Ver Naturwissenschaft und Mathematik in Ulm 24:3–20Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Taller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Petra Kieselbach
    • 1
  • Nicholas J. Conard
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Ur- und Frühgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters, Abteilung für Ältere Urgeschichte und QuartärökologieEberhard Karls Universität TübingenTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations