SEEKING A NEW SYNTHESIS. SELECTED ISSUES OF TERMINAL FLINT WORKING FROM THE UPPER AND MIDDLE VISTULA BASIN
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Inspired by Bogdan Balcer's comments, published in 'Archeologia Polski', I would like to address the issues concerning my work brought up in this publication. In the Polish literature, the possibility and potential scale of the use of flint tools by post-Neolithic communities has been argued ever since the 1930s. A summary of the discussion was contributed by J. Lech, among others. The accretion of new sources and verification of extant collections have put into an entirely new light the issue of how Bronze-Age populations, not only in the eastern territories of Poland, made use of siliceous rocks. Balcer's view that the issue of 'Early Bronze Age' flint working should be perceived in a spectrum much broader than that proposed by the present author - that is, through the prism of four conventional tools: knives, sickle inserts, bifacial points and arrowheads - merits full support. The original conception was to limit the selection to bifacial 'sickles' and 'daggers points'. I have treated Balcer's suggestion to include axes in the source base as a research postulate. Their classification would demand analyses exceeding the assumed priority of bifaciality. Extremely variegated morphological and metrical features of these products used in the Lesser Poland (Malopolska) region from the Middle Neolithic onward enjoin a verification of the classification accepted to date (including similar tools, like chisels, primitive axes, primitive axe-shaped and hoes for mining). In a consideration of the chronology of the smallish four-sided axes, one needs merely to keep in mind the parallel 'corded Ware Culture' forms of type Id and II after J. Machnik (1966), as well as the 'Funnel Beaker Culture' variant C after B. Balcer (1975), the small 'Globular Amphorae Culture' pieces and the Zlota Culture type 'b' after Z. Krzak (1961), in order to be persuaded regarding the imperfections of such divisions. Returning to the polemics, it is impossible to accept Balcer's opinion that the bifacial tools I had analyzed were removed from the context of contemporary products. It should be emphasized that the two most numerous of the analyzed forms, that is, bifacial points and sickle-shaped knives, are deprived of this context in over 93% and close to 96% of the cases respectively. In the remaining cases, an analysis of non-flint material was essential for a determination of this context. Balcer's further views concerning this context are equally difficult to accept, for he is inclined to include a variety of flint tools from the Early Bronze Age, as well as later ones, independently of the nature of the finds. The listing clearly indicates that a number of 'Early Bronze' elements do not find continuation in the flint tool production of the Trzciniec and Lusatian cultures (J. Libera, in print). Balcer's postulate regarding a comprehensive study of Early Bronze Age flint working is a definitely premature undertaking in my opinion. It should be preceded by comprehensive monographic presentations of sites of key significance for the issues brought up here, as well as regional summaries that will permit trends to be discerned in this highly specific 'terminal' flint working throughout the Bronze and Early Iron Ages. The spotty record of publications, on flint working in particular, concerning the Corded Ware Culture, makes it very difficult to understand the stylistic changes that began in the terminal Neolithic and which were construed as a 'technological breakthrough'. In my study, I had deliberately avoided any issues connected with this breakthrough, as well as with the distinctive 'Mierzanowice industry', specifically because the analysis had covered only four elements. To recapitulate, despite considerable progress in fieldwork and studies of Bronze Age (and Early Iron Age) flint working, many of Balcer's postulates from more than thirty years ago on the state and quality of sources on flint tool manufacture for this period remain in force. Despite greatly improved perception and specialist studies on this group of artifacts, many issues, frequently of key significance, still await a satisfactory explanation.
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