I have just re-read a paper co-authored by Bruce Bradley regarding a Solutrean site in France. From the lithic debris recovered the authors were able to reconstruct the production process for large thin Solutrean ‘laurel leaf’ points. The key thing that is useful for me is that the authors posit a formula for recognising the stage of production. They divided the width of the piece by its thickness to produce a figure, and this figure indicated how ‘finished’ the piece was. Their model had four phases: Early – 3.6, Middle – 4.8, Late – 5.7, and Finished – 5.2. What these ratios tell us is that thinning was a primary activity that reached its apogee in the Late phase. Shaping would then reduce the width and therefore the Finished ratio would go down slightly. With this in mind I had another go with the aim of removing all of each surface to reduce thickness. As you can see, still a little original surface left on this face towards the front.
And a tiny, tiny piece of the glossed material left on this second face. I thought that would be enough to at least reduce the thickness. As I was by now losing width I didn’t take it further.
And the bad news? the ratio for this piece is 3.5, so technically still an Early in need of significant thinning. I measured all my previous pieces and the best one was unsurprisingly the widest at a ratio of 4, so again still an Early.
I now have a thickness model to work to that tells me how well, or not, my thinning is progressing, and I find that quite exciting. It is ultimately going to be a game of maintaining width whilst being able to take off long flakes. Interesting stuff.
(2008) Solutrean laurel leaf production at Maîtreaux: an experimental approach guided by techno-economic analysis, World Archaeology, 40:1, 48-66,