Migration versus acculturation of the Linear Band Keramik in the region

Around 5400 BC, the territories of  the northern part of Dutch South- Limburg and the adjacent areas suddenly are populated by farmers of the so called Linear Band Keramik Culture, LinearBandkeramik Kultur (LBK)  'migrating'  from the south- east ( Dunube region) into the German Rhine- Valley, where they than crossed the German Aldenhover Platte, to populate the west-bank of the Meuse river near Elsloo, Stein and  Geleen  in Dutch South Limburg, the so called  Graetheide -triangle.
Afterwards, they spread southwards into the Belgian Hesbaye region., probably  by increasing  population- pressure. 
This is the official version of the migration from the LBK into the loess areas of Southern Limburg and the adjacent Hesbaye region in Belgium.
The question is, if this outmost spread of the LBK to the west,  was not a simple part of a more large ongoing acculturation process, where hunter- gatherers adapted their food economy by ( additional) agricultural activities.
It is hard to believe, when we speak of a migration, the members of the LBK -Culture just walked into an existing territory of  hunter- gatherer groups that lived  here during the entire Mesolithic. It is hard to believe, the native  hunter -gatherers  simply said: "Welcome, you strange farmers!  Feel free to burn or fell parts of our forests, use everything you like,- including our flint sources (Banholt, Rijckholt, Rullen),  we don't care if you take any holy places,  we just move over to another part of our territory, so you can do whatever you like and take what you like." Would you do the same in your garden, or - in your house?

The spread of the LBK in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. 1. They settled at the loess. 2. The loeesbelt however is much larger, why didn't  they move further?

After the Palaeolithic, with its park- tundra landscape,  there was a dramatic reduction in territory, needed for hunting purposes. This was the result of the change in climate, that brought a more wide variety of biotopes and habitats, with an optimum in the Atlantikum period ( late Mesolithc). The contradiction is, that parallel with the diminution of the needed territory we see an increase of people living in our country
( estimated 1 inhabitant / 100 km2 at the open tundra -biome during the Palaeolithic, till 1 inhabitant /10 km2 during the final -Mesolithic, see also Rozoy, 1997)

The Late Mesolithic hunter groups from the region of South Limburg were part of the Rhine -Meuse -Schelde  Mesolithic (RMS/B), see: Street et al, 2002.
The introduction of agriculture in our region is in my opinion something that best is viewed from the original inhabitants,so the indigenous hunter- gatherer societies. By the time the agriculture is introduced in our region ( ca 5300 BC) the concept of a farming economy was probably not new for the local inhabitants, as this was already ongoing in Central Europe, by the 'Danube movement' of  Neolithisation 6300 -5600 BC. This must have been certainly noticed  by the local hunter gatherers, especially the farming activities in the Rhine valley nearby ( approx.  50- 100 km to the east).
So the movement of what we call neolithic attributions ( villages, sedentary lifestyle, pottery, food economy mainly based on agriculture)  was already ongoing for centuries in the adjacent areas of the regional Mesolithic territory . Such territory is  based on tool typology and e.g. the use of Wommersom- quartzite.( see e.g. Vanmontfort, 2007).
 On the other hand, there was an ongoing reduction in surface of the territories of the tribes during the Final Mesolithic,  leading to a semi- sedentary lifestyle by hunter gatherer groups themselves.
An example.
Hunter- gatherers, that are opening small parts of the forest to improve the amount of hazel (Corylus avellana) or that make meads by deforestation, to have a free line of fire to shoot the game, are changing and influencing their environment, but this is on a small scale basis: non of this is really visible in regional and inter-regional pollen-diagrams ( Janssen, 1960, Bunnik 1999).
At the same time, a natural environment , especially with a number of different habitats, could provide small groups of hunter gatherers in their food. Such a crossing of biotopes/ habitats we find right  in the area of South -Limburg: where the loess area in the east, is connected with  the sandy area in the north and the northwest, in combination with wider and more narrow valleys, with large variety in gradients in the palaeo environment, ranging from running water ( Maas, Gulp, Geul and many small brooks), ponds and moors ( the whole area around Meerssen and Rijckholt/  Gronsveld, till dry habitats on the cretaceous and gravel-rich drained soils on the plateaus.
In this particular region, elvium type flint is very common at the surface of slopes and hilltops, so this is also a region of  flintsources. The flintsource of Banholt is regarded to be the oldest flint source- mine of South -Limburg, ( and so for the wider region) exploited by the LBK of the Dutch  Graetheide cluster and the German Aldenhover Platte ( Brounen & Peeters 2000/2001). The distance to this Graetheide -region is ca 20 km.
The LBK however is not noticed in the region of Banholt, Mheer, St. Geertruid, Margraten, Slenaken , etc. so not in the large area between the two separate LBK clusters of The Graetheide and the Hesbaye.  How did they know about this particular flint-mine and  the quality of the flint?  This flint source was  located  more inland- further from the Meuse river-  at the forested plateau, where no LBK settlements are known.
Or is this only one of the many other eluvium flint locations ( like e.g. Schiepersberg, Trichterberg, etc.) that has been exploited but we do not know the extent of use of these mines yet?
Recently, the author found a large number of  small sized flake/ bladelet- cores of eluvium flint near Banholt, possibly the Banholt -mine was well known during the pre-Neolithic period ( article at this blog  in preparation).

 Small flint cores of eluvium flint, found near Banholt

Two 50 grams hammer stones measuring ca 4 x 4 cm , probably from the Late Mesolithic / Early Neolithic, found at Banholt

Why don't we find LBK settlements in the region of the flint mines, e.g. near Rijckholt, near Meerssen, near Banholt or Rullen, where we find the same fertile loess with small attributes to the river? How can we interpret finds of asymmetric points with a RIP near Rijckholt?
How could the LBK people cross the whole area without interventions with the indigenous hunter gatherers, as their interest was completely different - the LBK searching for minerals for the production of flint tools, adzes, pottery etc. the Mesolithic hunters searching for game. The brook valleys were partially cleared by the members of the LBK culture,  for the grazing of the cattle.Here is a conflict in land -use of both groups.
 Especially the brook valleys, middle terrace and lower parts of the sloping regions were suitable for hunting, while the river and affluent brooks were used for fishing purposes.
The plateau was forested with immense lime- tree forests ( Tilia sp.), comparative with today's, relative dark, sombre monotone beech-forests (Fagus sylvaticae), a habitat where we only would find squirrels and  birds, not exactly a hunting place. The hunting locations were located  in more open areas, around pools, marshland, and in half open landscapes, like shrub-lands.
Farmsteads, or villages needed a certain space, and  had access to valley floors, while small-scale cereal cultivation in fixed plots adjacent to the settlements meant they need a rather substantial part of the forest for living. Such cleared lands were covered with ( ruderal and pioneer) weeds that were established in pollen -diagrams, so these cleared lands would have been used over a long period of time.
It is also noticed that sites of the LBK appeared in clusters (Kruk 1973). At Merzbach (D) it is estimated, the used surface by LBK activites ( so called Wirtschaftgebiet, or micro-area)  had a surface of  ca 300 ha. In the Dutch Graetheide -cluster, farms of the LBK were located one km form each other always with a view from the plateau (Bakels 1978, Modderman, 1982).
This meant, for groups of hunter -gatherers, the entire Maas/ Meuse valley was dissected by the LBK , not only in the axe from the south to the north, but also from east to west.
The nearest clusters of LBK villages were located at 30 km from the Graetheide, at the Aldenhover Platte in Germany , and  20 km to the south near Heeswater in Belgium.The question is, when you enter a foreign area, why you build clusters of villages that are located so far from each other- this cannot be explained by the simple fact of the soil-type (loess) as the whole area of South -Limburg, the region of the Fourons / Voeren  in Belgium is one big loess area with great possibilities for farming, except of coarse for  the highest parts (>200m) which areas were not suitable for prehistoric agriculture.

In addition to this, it is surprising that  lots of  finds, attributed to the LBK, mainly in the form of pottery sherds  are reported from the sandy area of Middle Limburg.but without  any traces of settlement.
Moreover,  finds of 'pure Mesolithic sites" only are reported from  the Middle of Limburg and the adjacent Belgian Kempen area ( see at this blog: the Regional Limburg (NL) The  Mesolithic, including references).
In tool typology, Danubian armatures, of which the traditional asymmetric LBK point is an example,  has been noticed as a functional key type for the transitional phase  with the Mesolithic  (Robinson,  Jadin  and Bosquet, 2010), demonstrating the close relation of the used tool types during the M-N transitional phase, but also demonstrates the intra- specific difference in tool types( i.c. armatures) made by different LBK groups, living in the same area( i.c. the Hesbaye region). Abandoning the strict boundary between Neolithic and Mesolithic is also suggested by others, based on observations , especially from the archaeobotany (Nielsen 2009, Taylor 2012 ).

Acculturation by indigenous people (?)
What, if only the culture belonging to the LBK was brought into the region and this was not a migration by the people?  The reflection of the LBK - culture , as it appears in the (local) archaeological correlate, is indicating a full Neolithic 'tradition' - as if this tradition locally has been practiced over long time. But what if the local hunter -gatherers took over the principles of agriculture, or fit them into their own lifestyle, that already  had become semi- sedentary ( seasonal activities, seasonal migrations).   What if, e.g , the new Neolithic farmers, that in reality were the indigenous  Mesolithic hunter- gatherers , used ( a part of) the cleared forests to shoot the game,  as just like today, the roe and red deer and other small animals like hares appear in open fields.Usually the hunting land was located  in  the open and half open landscape types,so  in the valleys ( inundation zones) ,  around large marshlands and near pools, etc .
The basic principle of keeping domesticated animals was neither unknown to them as the principle of agriculture. The latter statement is based on the fact that agriculture is nothing other than use the nature in a selective way, to benefit from certain species. Even for the Neolithic period it is difficult to see if species are cultivated ( 'privileged', by changing the variables of the habitat) or gathered ( i.e. Elder Sambucus nigra, Blackberry  Rubus sp., Hazel Corylus avellana).
Mixed properties of  the Neolithic and Mesolithic way of life  we see for example  in the Ceramic Mesolithic, a Mesolithic lifestyle with pottery  ( Ertebølle in Denmark and non- ceramic pre -pottery cultures in the Levant) .Till around 6000 BC the Neolithisation of Europe stops at the border of the Near East, to spread 'rapidly' afterwards by two separate movements: one following  the Mediterranean coastline ( Cardium culture), spreading to the north and another by the Starčevo culture (Northern Balkans) into North West Europe.
Afterwards, we see a rapid spread of  farming during  several hundreds years ( 5600 -5300 BC) in the German Rhine valley, with the oldest LBK in The Netherlands at ca 5300 BC.

A good example of acculturation is given by the example of an imaginary excavation in the future,  let 's say in 4000 AD, in the Belgian town of Hasselt.
Besides of typical "Belgian" things like a frying pan, or a statue of "Manneke Pis", a typical Belgian toy train, etc.,  they would find many objects, that are definitely from another 'culture',  e.g. a cola cans, indicating the Belgian people were drinking cola, which is attributed to be a cultural habit of the USA.  No -one would state that the Americans migrated  into Belgium and started living there from the mid 20 th century. This example proves the misconception of apparently well explainable phenomena.
When we regard the LBK as a pure cultural phenomena, it brought in new things, like plant-seeds ( wheat,lentils and peas) and domestic animals ( cows and swines) and the building of large houses and a sedentary lifestyle. This whole new range of new ' ideas'  of coarse cannot simply be copied in an abstract form, so  people from outside the region ( Rhine valley?) or at least  people that has been  'neolithized' ( were already familiar in practicing the Neolithic skills)  must have been involved in the process. 

Maybe there have been relations between some local  Mesolithic hunter -gatherer groups and LBK - groups in the Rhine valley, maybe in a cooperation, or several members of  the local hunter -gatherer groups split off to become a farmer, so were changing their life drastically.  This change in lifestyle is something like as now people sign up for the army: the difference between a civilian and a soldier is also accompanied by  new behaviors, new rules, new clothes, a totally different world compared to the civilian world, and moreover a new perspective  of life and living.  One chooses for a new lifestyle when one thinks this will improve health, wealthy, or just if it there is a more certain way of life. This , however does not explain the social relations between the LBK settlements- but it is also possible there was a natural contact between those that were farming, like today similar groups have relations with each other. Is this also explaining the so called palimpsests that always seem to occur in sites where both LBK tools and microliths are found?

I cannot think about the idea, the indigenous people- even when they were in small numbers ( for an estimated 1 inhabitant /10km2,  the whole of South -Limburg would have had ca 90  inhabitants for the Late Mesolithic  ) let new colonists enter, to take over the land and freely use the resources of the region. This would of coarse only have happened , in case of  large intimidation or pressure by the new colonists, if   the colonists entered in large numbers, with better weaponry,... or it happened with very strong arguments, to persuade the indigenous people  to change their economy and lifestyle.
 Still I think, there had to be some sort of co-existence of both the traditional hunting/ fishing/ farming economy and the new farming economy in the region for quite some time. This, while in the Rhine- valley  farming had become a new ( additional) economy for the indigenous, during several hundreds of years before the colonization of parts of the South Limburg plateau in 5400 BC.
 In the Belgian Kempen (Campine)  region, the Mesolithic ( way of life - proved by the use of microliths in the weaponry )was ongoing till at least 4000 BC, and the production of flint micro- blades  during the period of the Michelsberg- Culture (MK) is suggesting the Mesolithic ( nomadic?) lifestyle was still ongoing.

Small tool production at Rullen (B) noticed at a single location at Rullen (-Haut) , suggesting these tools were made for use in a ( an ongoing?) nomadic lifestyle.The tools , found at Rullen are attributed to non specified Late -Neolithic cultures (Vermeersch et al, 2006), but are such tools demonstrating the hunter gatherer lifestyle in the region?
References in  the text
Bakels, C.C. (1978), Four Linearbandkeramik Settlements and Their Environment: A Paleoecological Study of Sittard. Stein, Elsloo and Hienheim, Analecta Praehistorica I.eidensia 11.
Brounen, F.T.S., & H. Peeters (2000/2001) Vroeg-neolithische vuursteenwinning en -bewerking in de Banholtergrubbe (Banholt, gem. Margraten), Archeologie 10, 133-150.
Bunnik, F.P.M.  (1999)  Vegetationsgeschichte der Lössbörden zwischen Rhein und Maas : von der Bronzezeit bis in die frühe Neuzeit = Vegetation history and land-use in the loess area between Rhine and Meuse : from the Bronze Age until the 18th Century = Vegetatiegeschiedenis en landgebruik van het loessgebied tussen Rijn en Maas : vanaf de Bronstijd tot aan de 18e eeuw, PhD thesis/  Proefschrift Universiteit Utrecht
Janssen C.R.1960 On the late –glacial and post-glacial vegetation of South Limburg NL 
Kruk J. 1973 Studia osadnicze nad neolitem wyzyn lessowych, Wroclaw. Ossolineum Engl. version of the  British Archaeological Reports S93, Oxford).

Krause-Kyora,B et al. (2013) Use of domesticated pigs by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in northwestern Europe    Nature Communications 4, / 234     Article
Modderman  P.J.R, Dr.  (1982)  Prehistoric Settlement Patterns Around the Southern North Papers Presented at a Colloquium, Held in Honour of Professor Dr. P.J.R. Modderman, Leiden, 3-7 May 1982

Nielsen. E. H. (2009) The Mesolithic background for the Neolithisation process

Archaeological Survey of the Canton of Lucerne, CH UDK 902.67(494)"634\636" Documenta Praehistorica XXXVI PDF

Rozoy J.-G. (1997) Territoires sociaux et environnement en France du nord et en Belgique de 14000 à 6000 BP. ... et du début de l'Holocène en Europe du Nord-Ouest

Street ,M.,  Baales, M., Cziesla E.,  Hartz,S.,  Heinen, M.,  Olaf J.,  Koch,I., Pasda, C.,
Terberger,T.  and  Vollbrecht J.  (2002) Final Paleolithic and Mesolithic Research in Reunied Germany ; Journal of World Prehistory, Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2001 ( 2002)

Taylor, B ,  Milner, N , Taylor, M , Conneller, C ; (2012)   Substantial settlement in the European Early Mesolithic: new research at Star Carr PDF by Academia Edu
Vanmontfort, B, (2007) Bridging the gap. The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in a frontier zone ; Documenta Praehistoria XXXIV ( 4-15)
Vermeersch  P.M., J. Chow G. Creemers I. Masson-Loodts A.J. Groenendijk M. De Bie  (2006) Neolithische vuursteenontginning op desite van Rullen (Voeren, prov. Limburg).PDF

See also the recent article  (17 september 2014) about the ADN of Euroepeans, demosntarting high percentages of original hunter- gatherer ADN in Northern European inhabitants


The rich archaeology of Rosmeer, Belgium

The rich archaeology of Rosmeer, Belgium

Rosmeer in Google Maps 

Just a village, located on a hill  in the vast agricultural area west of the Dutch city of Maastricht, that is Rosmeer. 
But here we find a rich archaeological heritage. At a small surface of the village we find remains from different periods: the oldest finds come from the Linear Band Keramik (LBK) farmers during the Neolithic. Other periods of habitation of this area : the Iron age, the Roman period and the Merovingian period.
 It is no wonder, the Tourist -office of Bilzen ( Rosmeer is a part of the community of Bilzen)  has made a walk ( ca 6 km) in the village, that leads us to the main spots of this archaeological richness.
The name "Rosmeer" is already very interesting. It is originally taken from the name "Rosmerta",  goddess of the spring during the Celtic period.

The walk
The start is at the central place near the St. Pierre church, build at the end of the 12th century.
At this place, where you can park the car, we find a monument , dedicated to the "culture of the Linear Band Keramik" of - the wrong date, but who cares? - 4000 BC. The LBK at Rosmeer is from the period at ca 5.250 BC.

The monument, made by Denis Briers, at the central place

 We walk eastwards into the Rosmeerstraat,  and pass the old presbytery at the right hand, which is not archaeological, but very nice to see.

The presbytery from the 18th century, made of blocks of marl
Just a little bit further, also on the right, we find the spring, the "Bertilia- spring", originally the "Rosmerta spring" and christianized in  the 7th century.

The Bertilia spring, still contains clear water
At this point we  turn to the left, into a small foot-path, named "pastoorsteegske", leading  uphill, and where we pass a large red beech, with an estimated age of  200 years.

The mighty beech, with in the background, the tower of the church of Rosmeer
At the end of this foothpath, turn left, into the Groenstraat, than at the crossing left into the Kerkstraat. We pass by the church and turn right into the Bosstraat, leading us to a brook valley with large poplars. This is a small green oasis in the large agriculture area.Here we might spot a squirrel. Walk up hill direction of the Water tower, that we pass by, and at the crossing we turn right into the Bandstraat where we find at the right the board with the text about the Roman tumulus, found here up the hill. 

At this place at the Bandstraat in Rosmeer, in 1951, during the digging of a ditch for beet- storage, the remains of  a 2nd century tumulus was detected. Cremations in an urn from the Gallo Roman period were found here,together with jars and pots.
When we cross the main road, we take the road straight on, the "Slakkenstraat". Here we walk between meadows, cultivated fields and some fruit yards.
We follow the road, at a crossing we go right and immediate left and right: "in the Weigaard"; here we have a large look around us at the vast agricultural region.
Left at this road we find the first LBK site ( 5500 - 4900 BC): Boelhof -Flikkenberg..Sherds found here were well decorated, indicating they are from a later LBK phase.

The board at Boelhof Flikkenberg tells us about the LBK site that has been excavated here

When we continue the walk we find the second location of the LBK, from an  earlier phase: we are at the Staberg. Now it is hard to imagine, that on this particular hill, some  7000 years ago we could see the LBK farmers in their settlement.

The Staberg near Rosmeer, a LBK site was discovered here and excavated.
We continue the walk and turn right into the Schijvenstraat. Here we walk uphill, back into the village.
We turn at the crossing to the right, into the Diepestraat and  a little bit further, at the left we find two boards that tells us we are at a special archaeological place : a location where both an Iron age settlement was located, a Roman villa was found, and a Merovingian grave field was found where 120 people were buried.... Without these boards you would not have noticed this, as now there are new build houses.

A special archaeological site is hidden below these houses. We are lucky they had been excavated first, so we now know, this is the location of an Iron age settlement, a Roman villa and a Merovingian graveyard. All these archaeological remains have to do with the source, that lies southwards beneath it...

We return to the central place, by turning to the right into the Groenstraat again, and taking the Pastoorswegske downhill, to come again at the "Bertilia source". At this place we find "Café Bij Guske", where you might have a drink... but not always during the wintertime.
Here we turn back to the central place, to find back the car.
It was a nice, informative walk and I promise myself to do it again in summertime...

(Just for fun) 1 penny (Great Britain) from the year 2000.


Good description of the walk with some background information: 
Rosmeer, archeologische wandeling,
made by C.P.C. Aerssens  of  Lange Afstand Wandelvereniging "VIA-VIA".

Description and download of the walk
Routeyou: Rosmeer archeologische wandeling 

Archaeology of Rosmeer (bibliography/ articles)

De Boe, G, Van Impe, L  ( 1979) Nederzetting uit de ijzertijd en Romeinse villa te Rosmeer; publ. Brussel
Janssens, D. ( 1974) dissert. Het vroeg-neolithische vaatwerk van de Staberg te Rosmeer (Belgisch Limburg) Universiteit Gent
Pauwels, D ( 2006)  Rosmeer (Bilzen): proefsleuven op bedreigd terrein nabij de Romeinse villa en het Merovinigisch grafveld aan de Diepestraat (voorheen Schuivestraat) in: Limburg. Het Oude Land van Loon Vol. 85 / 1 Hasselt
Roosens, H, Vanderhoeven, M ( 1955)  Een verdwenen tumulus te Rosmeer; Archaeologia Belgica 24
Roossens H. ( 1963) Rosmeer : Bandkeramische nederzetting ; in Archeologie 2 
Roosens, H, Lux , G (1969) Een nederzetting uit de IJzertijd op de Staberg te Rosmeer in : Archaeologia Belgica


Small tools in the region Maastricht - Liège: the Mesolithic?

Small tools* in the region Maastricht -  Liège: the Mesolithic?
Petits outilsde la région de Maastricht - Liège: le Mésolithique?

* Definition of a small tool: a tool that is obvious constructed and used for the carrying out of small activities, where the same operations could also be performed with instruments that are manufactured in a (much) larger version. Importantly, small tools are not the result of fractures of larger implements, or do exist at the end of a 'chaine opératoire', although tools on flakes and debris , by definition are positioned at the end of the 'chaine opératoire.
*Définition d'un petit outil: un outil qui clairement a été construit et utilisé pour la réalisation de travaux mineurs, où le même travail pourrait également être effectué avec des instruments qui sont fabriqués dans une version plus grande. Surtout, les petits outils ne sont pas le résultat d'une fracture de'artefacts plus gros  ou à la face d'extrémité d'une 'chaîne opératoire', bien que les outils sur éclats/ débris, se trouvent par définition  au fin du chaaine opératoire des outils.

(Textes en italique : Francais)

With contributions of Jean Jo Paquay (Belgium) and Jean Yves Ringenbach (France)
Avec  contributions de Jean Jo Paquay (Belgique) et Jean-Yves Ringenbach (France)

In some articles small tools were presented for the region
Dans certains articles, de petits outils ont été présentés pour la région

Arbannig: the deceptive effect of eluvium flint
Arbannig: Mesolithic finds near Bruisterbosch
Arbannig: Small tools from St. Geertruid

Prospection strategy
During archeological excavations all the archaeological correlate is collected and examined. During field prospections however, it is more difficult to collect all things that you see in the field and  this is most of the time not necessary or  even wishful. After hundred years of field prospections, however, it looks like only  the debris is left in the fields.
This is not only bad news. To find small tools, we must use a quantitative sample strategy, and pick up everything that has the right dimensions to be a possible tool. It appears not only that this works to detect small tools, but also for 'ugly' looking pieces, that appear to have served as tools as well. Besides of tools, the debris, cores and rejected flakes could also give information.In practice, enough debris will remain in the fields to mark possible archaeological sites. After all: the more we find at the surface, the less archaeological  importance is given to the possible site, as it would be the best when we only find a few lithic implements, so a full excavation would still  be possible.

Stratégie de prospection 
Pendant de fouilles archéologiques tout le corrélation du site archéologique est recueilli et examiné. Au cours des prospections sur le terrain cependant, il est plus difficile de recueillir toutes les choses que vous voyez dans le domaine, et c'est la plupart du temps pas nécessaire ou desiré.  Après cent ans de prospections sur le terrain, il semble que souvent seulement les débris sont laissés dans les champs. Pour trouver des petits outils, nous devons utiliser une stratégie d'échantillonnage quantitatif, et de ramasser tout ce qui a les bonnes dimensions pour être un outil. Il apparaît non seulement que cela fonctionne pour détecter de petits outils, mais aussi pour les vilains morceaux, qui semblent avoir servi d'outils ainsi. En plus des outils, des débris, des nucléus et des éçlats rejetés pourraient également donner des informations

Artifacts in a blade technique, originating from both the late Mesolithic and the Neolithic, found in the region of Thionville North France.  The width of bladelets could determine the assumed period, as microliths were made of bladelets  < 1,2 cm wide. We also distinguish different flint types Image J.-Y. Ringenbach
Artefacts, produits dans une technique laminaire, provenant  s Mésolithique final et le Néolithique, trouvés dans la région de Thionville Nord de la FranceLa largeur des lamelles indique la période présumée, comme microlithes ont été faites de lamelles <1,2 cm de largeur. . nous pouvons également distinguer les différents types de silex. Iimage par JY Ringenbach

Small tools
The Mesolithic is well known for the Belgian Kempen / Campine region, and the Dutch adjacent sandy area of Middle Limburg. (  see for an overview of the Mesolithic and references the article at  this weblog: Regional Limburg  The Palaeolithic and the Mesolithic). Just when the loess area begins, it looks like the Mesolithic disappears, and indeed, at least in the loess area the Mesolithic is  almost everywhere mixed into the Neolithic period, if you are able find it.
One of the possible reasons for this phenomena is suggested by Vermeersch ( Vermeersch 1980), pointing at the Campine/ Kempen region as a possible refugium for the hunter gatherers during the LBK- phase and afterwards. He also explained the presence of small bladelets in Michelsberg Culture (MK) sites of the Middle Neolithic.

Finds of  tools with small or even very small dimensions ( mainly retouched flint flakes, retouched waste material, used cores, blade tablets, non standardized pointed implements, drills or borers) found  at the surface, sometimes can be explained, when they are found in a 'clear' context ( e.g. in combination with many other large flint artifacts from the Neolithic, indicating a pure Neolithic (MK) settlement or temporary activity location ( e.g. a location for tool production, where the Neolithic people stayed over some time, so they also had to carry out daily tasks to prepare their meals, repair clothing , repair the hunting assemblage,  etc, such a location is near a flint mine.). But this explanation is absolutely not  satisfactory. Multi faced and multiplatform cores, in very small dimensions from the Neolithic also occur (1)
The problem to draw an exact line between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic is difficult in possible polluted, mixed surface plowed contexts. The word possible in italic, because this is an assumption for surface finds of both periods at one site.( Unfortunately we cannot control this).
The patinas are not the most reliable reliable determinants for placing the artifacts into its right chronological context. Indeed, patinas at the surface of the Rijckholt and the Spiennes flint from the Neolithic, often found in our region, is showing a quick build up patina, sometimes causing patina at only one side of the artifact ( the side that has contact with the open air).
 Of course, we might have a close look at the tools, to see by typology and applied technology if they fit in a possible Mesolithic or a Neolithic period. This is not always possible, as Late -Mesolithic traditions appear in early Neolithic finds, like asymmetric points.
"Like asymmetric points", this part of the previous sentence already shows the importance of finds of guiding artifacts, and even when such guide artifacts appear, they are not well understood in the context.
Small retouched flakes are not guiding us really and are much more difficult to explain.( like finds of a small bladelet at Vaux -et Borset  / 'Bas-Vinave' (B) in a LBK context ( dim. 17 mm x 12 mm x 2 mm , with microburin, Collection Eloy nr13436, which fits perfectly in the Mesolithic by the use of the microburin technique).
In this case, it is important to notice other things, and this is only a 'small corner of the veil', that we might lift up, and until we find clear contexts from excavations, remain always surrounded by basic questions.

Petits outils 
Trouvailles des outils de petites dimensions trouvés à la surface (principalement ce sont des éclats de silex retouchées , des déchets retouchées, noyaux utilisés,  lames comprimés et  non-standardisées, des outils pointus, percoirs,etc),on   peut parfois s'expliquer facilement, quand ils se trouvent dans une contexte «claire»   (p.ex. en combinaison avec de nombreux autres artefacts grandes en silex du Néolithique, ce qui indique un village néolithique ou de l'emplacement temporaire des activités (par exemple, un emplacement pour la fabrication d'outils, où les hommes du néolithique y avons séjourné pendant un certain temps, donc ils ont aussi dû porter des tâches quotidiennes pour préparer leurs repas, des vêtements de réparation, réparer l'assemblage de chasse, etc.). Mais cette explication n'est pas toujours satisfaisante.Le problème de tracer une ligne précise entre le Mésolithique et le Néolithique est difficile dans les contextes de surface mixtes labourés, presque toujours  'pollués'(= de plusieurs périodes).. Les patines ne sont pas les déterminants les plus fiables  pour placer les objets dans son propre  contexte chronologique. En effet, patines à la surface de la Rijckholt et le silex de Spiennes depuis le Néolithique, quel'on retrouve souvent dans notre région, montre une  accumulation rapide de la patine, une patine causant parfois d'un seul côté de l'artefact ( le côté qui est en contact avec l'air libre ). 
Au début, bien sûr, nous pourrions avoir un coup d'oeil de plus près les outils, pour voir par la technologie et typologie appliquées si elles correspondent au Mésolithique ou Néolithique. Ce n'est pas toujours possible, comme les traditions du mésolithiques -final  apparaissent au début néolithiques, comme les points asymétriques.
"Comme les points asymétriques», cette partie de la phrase précédente montre déjà l'importance des découvertes d'artefacts de guide, et même lorsque ces objets guides apparaissent, ils ne sont pas bien compris dans le contexte. Petits éclats retouchés ne sont pas vraiment les plus confidents pour nous guider et sont beaucoup plus difficiles à expliquer.Dans ce cas, il est important de remarquer autre chose, et ce n'est qu'un «petit coin du voile» qui couvre ces objets, que nous pourrions soulever.
The small tools,  found in the region could be from both the Neolithic and Mesolithic period, but this is a simplified model. (see below).
Les petits outils, trouvés dans la région pourrait être à la fois du néolithique et mésolithique, mais il s'agit d'un modèle simplifié ( voir ci-dessous)
Small tools found in the region could either be made from larger cores and  be representing "retouched debris" from the Neolithic processing of e.g. flint axes. Another possibility is the debitage of flakes from small cores, are fitting in a nomadic, Mesolithic tradition. Both large Neolithic cores and small cores ( from the Mesolithic?) occur.
Petits outils, trouvés dans la région, pourrait être soit fabriqué à partir de noyaux plus grands  représentent «les débris retouchée" de la debiatge néolithique comme  par exemple par la production des haches en silex. Une autre possibilité c'est le débitage d'éclats de petites nucléusdans une tradition mésolithique. Des  grands noyaux néolithiques et des noyaux petits (à partir du Mésolithique?) ont été produits au même temps.

Small sized tools ( possible points) from the community  of Bassenge in Belgium; image J.J. Paquay
Petits outils taillés (des points possibles) de la communauté de Bassenge en Belgique;  l'image J-J. Paquay

Bladelets , found near the Geer -brook in the community of Bassenge, Belgium. They have great similarities to the bladelets found at production places near St. Geertruid, suggesting a standard debitage for micro -blades from Rijckholt flint; image J.J. Paquay
Lamelles, trouvées près du ruisseau Geer dans la communauté de Bassenge, Belgique. Elles ont de grandes similitudes avec les lamelles trouvées sur les lieux de production à proximité de Saint-Geertruid (NL), ce qui suggère un débitage standardisé pour les micro-lames de silex Rijckholt;  l'image J-J. Paquay

Flint tools from the community of Bassenge in Belgium  comprises scrapers and a broken blade; image J.J. Paquay
Outils en silex provenant de la communauté de Bassenge : grattoirs et une lame cassée image Par J.-J. Paquay

It is not only the size of the flint tools that pleas for a nomadic tradition, but also the great numbers of small tools, found in the region.Image: retouched flint implements from the community of Bassenge, Belgium; image J.J. Paquay)
Ce n'est pas seulement la taille des outils en silex qui estindiquant pour  une tradition nomade, mais aussi le grand nombre de petits outils, trouvés dans la région. Image: silex retouchée  de la communauté  de Bassenge, La Belgique,  l'image J.-J. Paquay)

Variety in tool forms. The idea is, these tools were produced on debris . Image by  J.J. Paquay
Une  variété des formes d'outils. L'idée c'est que ces outils ont été produites sur les débris. Image J.-J. Paquay

The tools
What exactly is a small tool? If a tool is small or big, depends on the task you carry out.  We don't use a big hammer to strike a small nail. We adapt the hammer in this case for the task to carry out. Small tools are very convenient when you travel, you have to carry less weight and if the applied technique is right, small tools are very well designed to carry out daily tasks, such as cutting small branches for the production of arrows,, cleaning a fish, cutting animal skins, scraping meat from a bird bone, etc. etc.
Microliths, made in the standard micro-burin technique, usually have dimensions of less than 1,2 cm x 0,5  cm. and were used for a light weight -standardized weaponery. Truncated micro-blades and derived tools ( composed tools), micro -blade negative cores from the Bronze age often have evensmaller dimensions (e.g. found at  Fresno de la Ribera in Zamora, Spain).Tools can be divvided in tools made on blades - by micro burin rechnique and tools on flakes, tools on debris.
Small tools found  in the Liege -Maastricht region mostly are made on local flint ( Rijckholt, Hesbaye, Rullen), which are flint mines that were mainly exploited during the Neolithic ( i.c Michelsberg Culture). This itself could underline the stated suggestion, the Michelsberg Culture produced small bladelets for their Mesolithic neighbors. The author of this article really found a Rijckholt blade core at Opoeteren (B) in the Kempen region  this autumn, with small blade negatives.
Usually the tools made of flint found in Mesolithic (excavated) sites in the Belgian Kempen area are not made of Rijckholt flint, but represent a wide variety of flint types - mainly  fluvial flint -  together with e.g. Wommersom -quartzite.(Van Gils & De Bie 2001)

Regular blades  and micro blades from St. Geertruid, in a standardized production or as a by-product of production of much bigger tools ?(Arban coll.)

 Artefacts found at a field at Bassenge (B) at an eroded edge of what might very well be explained as a former spring. Blade technique. Notice the diversity of flint, common to assemblages of hunter gatherers .Image: J.J. Paquay
Artefacts trouvés sur un champ à Bassenge (B) à un bord érodé de ce qui pourrait très bien être expliqué comme un ressort ancienne. Technique de la lame. Remarquez la diversité des silex, l'image commune aux assemblages de chasseurs-cueilleurs.  Image par J.-J. Paquay 

Round scraper made on local Hesbaye flint ; image J.J. Paquay
Racloir rond fait sur ​​ silex locale d'Hesbaye ; l'image JJ Paquay

 ( 2)
Round scraper made on local Hesbaye flint ; image J.J. Paquay
Racloir rond fait sur ​​ silex locale d'Hesbaye ;  l'image J.-J. Paquay

Small blades from Northern France, made of Rijckholt flint. The question is, whether these blade were made at Rijckholt and transported or wheter they were made in Northern France from a transported nucleus; image J.Y. Ringenbach
Petites lames du nord de la France, en Rijckholt silex. La question est ,de savoir si ces lames ont été produits à Rijckholt et transportés ou qu''elles ont été faites dans le Nord de la France à partir d'un noyau transporté; image par  J.-Y. Ringenbach 

Similar blades from  the  region Thionville in North France, from the Mesolithic;
image by J.Y. Ringenbach
Lames similaires de la région de Thionville en Nord de la France, du Mésolithique; l'image par J.Y. Ringenbach
Some small tools, found in the region of Maastricht,  are too small to fit in a sedentary lifestyle, unless these tools are made with the purpose to carry out a task that desires tools with such small dimensions.
Did the regional Mesolithic hunter -gatherers co-existe and have practiced the farming techniques, that we call Linear Band-Keramik, which would indicate the culture was spread from the south -east of Europe and so it was not a migration of people that took place ( Deeben, & Van Gijn,  2005). The differentiation in activities beside the hunting -gathering, by gathering, adapting and preparation of  large amounts of flint would suggest a longer stay in the flint mine area, so this would mark the  first step into a sedentary process.Acculturation of what we call Neolithic influences become more visible in the food production than in flint gathering and tool processing activities.
Small flint cores from the Rhine- Meuse region were transported to the southern, flint poor regions of Northern France (Lorraine). Mesolithic hunter- gatherers were used to make their tools from all kinds of flint and chert that could originate from the whole territory and elsewhere (by  trade and by gifts in social relation structures).

Quelques petits outils, trouvés dans la région de Maastricht, sont trop petits pour tenir dans un mode de vie sédentaire, à moins que ces outils sont faits dans le but de mener à bien une tâche qui désire outils avec de si petites dimensions. Les chasseurs-cueilleurs mésolithiques régionales aurait pratiqué les techniques agricoles, que nous appelons Rubanées /Omaliens, ce qui indiquerait la culture s'est répandue depuis le sud-est de l'Europe et donc ce n'était pas une migration de personnes qui ont eu lieu (Deeben, & Van Gijn, 2005).  
La différenciation des activités au bord de la chasse-cueillette, par la collection, l'adaptation et la préparation de grandes quantités de silex, pourrait suggère un plus long séjour dans la région des  mines de silex, de sorte que ce sont les premiers pas dans un processus Néolithique (?). L'acculturation sédentaire de ce que nous appelons 'l' influence néolithique', devient plus visible dans la production de nourriture que dans la collection de silex et les activités de transformation de l'outil.

Des petits noyaux de silexprovenant de la région Rhin-Meuse, ont été transportés vers les régions du sud, les régions  pauvres en silex du Nord de la France (Lorraine) ... Chasseurs-cueilleurs mésolithiques ont été utilisés pour rendre leurs outils de toutes sortes de silex et de chaille qui pourraient provenir de l'ensemble du territoire et d'ailleurs (par le commerce et par des dons dans les structures de relations sociales).

Small flint core from the Thionville region in Northern France, originating  from the Rhine -Meuse region. Image J.Y. Ringenbach
Petit nucléus de silex de la région de Thionville dans le nord de la France, originaire de la région Rhin-Meuse. Image J.Y. Ringenbach

 Scrapers from the Geer region in Belgium . Image J.J. Paquay
Grattoirs de la région de Geer en Belgique. Image J.J. Paquay 
Blades from Northern France, with the typical grey flint originating from the Hesbaye flint ( from Bassenge ?) and at the second row extreme left a type of "Belgian grey flint".Image by J.Y. Ringenbach
Lames de Nord de la France, avec le silex typique gris silex provenant de la Hesbaye (à partir de Bassenge?) Et à la deuxième rangée, extrême gauche, le type de silex de «belge -gris silex». Image par J. Y. Ringenbach
The difference in size of the used tools is very well visible. Large amounts of debitage material  were used by semi nomadic people in North France during the Late Mesolithic. Image by J.Y. Ringenbach
La différence de taille des outils utilisés est très bien visible. De grandes quantités de matériel de débitage ont été utilisés par les semi-nomades du Nord France au cours du Mésolithique; Image par J. Y. Ringenbach
 A small backed knife from the Belgian Hesbaye region, probably at the end of the chaine opératoire, discarded and used frequently. The original tool was probably more large.(coll. ARBAN)
Un petit couteau "lame a dos" soutenu de la Hesbaye belge, probablement à la fin de la chaîne opératoire, jetés et souvent utilisée. L'outil original était probablement plus grande.(coll. ARBAN)

The find locations.
The problem is, pure Neolithic hunting camps are not known in our region, though they do exist in the Middle East ( Pre-Pottery Neolithic B at Nahal Hava ,  Nigel Goring-Morris). In The Netherlands,  Late -Mesolithic hunting camps are reported (Kooijmans, 2001) and like in South- Limburg, mixed locattions from Neolithic and Mesolithic occur (e.g. Urk E4 Peeters, 2001). Mixed sites with both Neolithic and Mesolithic finds in South Limburg  (Neercanne, Rijckholt,) and in the region of the Geer (Bassenge, Visé Lanaye, Eben-Emael)  have been noticed by the author, though sometimes a difference in site use can be noticed: a separation of concentrations of smaller tools could be noticed at Neercanne (NL), Visé- Lanaye (B) and at Anixhe (B). The distance between well defined Neolithic artefacts and the smaller tools is remarkable.At the location  of Lanaye-Visé Caster, a homogeneous assemblage of mainly small bladelets, - often from non-local translucent flint- has been noticed,  together with Neolithic tool production.
Even when artefacts, found at the surface, are deplaced by plowing the field, they are within ca 10 m of their original context ( see e.g. Collins & Bras, 2004; Roper 1976; Sipola 2009; ), so they give us an indication about the prehistoric activity at a certain location.  During the Neolithic, tool production took place in the  settlements, or in case of flint mine locations, near the flint mines and not at the locations of  near springs  of the brooks( like the Geer brook in Belgium, and for Rijckholt: probably a small water-flow from the more large plateau - pool).
The interesting thing in surface- collection is, the terrain could give us some additional  information in combination with surface finds.  Depressions  with considerable dimensions are still visible in the fields and some, especially in the region south of Maastricht, are still water containing. Some older 'gully' type features sometimes are still visible in the landscape,( but always influenced by sloping effects, so filled with colluviual layers),  indicating former incisions by rainfall and possible prehistoric, dissapeared water -sources, forming former attributes to wide valleys that slope towards the current brooks ( e.g. Banholt , direction Libeek, direction Savelsbos, direction Meuse river).
At several  find locations such visible depressions play a role and are exactly the locations where small tools were detected (reported from Lorraine as well as from the Geer region in the Belgian Hesbaye). The coincidence is too big to suggest only at such eroding placing the Mesolithic would present itself at the surface, as at most sloping fields there is no sign of the Mesolithic at all.

Small tools in the "Collection of Eloy", Wallonie

In 2010 an overview of  the LBK - part of the collection of Louis Éloy  was presented in a  book
( Hauzeur, Jadin, and Jungels, 2010).  At Vaux -et -Borset (Belgium),several  quite small tools or flint implements have been found in 1960, visible in a picture at page 200 ( fig. 177). In the catalog however, small tools hardly get any attention. Smallest point is a symmetric point on a blade with dimensions 21 mm x 18mm  x 4 mm (Coll EL- 9403). Two small bladelets are presented, of which one is possible from the Mesolithic, but this determination is based on the raw material of the bladelet : Wommersom quartzite . The dimensions : 68 mm x 11mm x 5 mm (Coll. EL -13456). A very interesting bladelet is the raw bladelet  with dimensions  80 mm x 6 mm x 5 mm , made in a grained flint. This really looks like the small tools, found in the region. The authors of the book placed it in the LBK period (?) I assume because of lack of evidence for a Mesolithic origin.

Petits outils de la «Collection de Eloy", Wallonie

 En 2010, un aperçu de la  partie de la collection de Louis Éloy  ( partie Omalienne) a été présenté dans un livre (Hauzeur, Jadin et Jungels, 2010). À Vaux-et-Borset, petits outils ont été retrouvés en 1960, présenté  dans une image à la page 200 (fig. 177)Dans le catalogue du livre cependant, les petits outils n'ont guère attirez l'attention.  

La plus petite pointe dans le catalogue est une pointe symétrique sur une lame de dimensions 21 mm x 18 mm x 4 mm (Coll EL-9403).  Deux petites lamelles sont présentés, dont l'un est possible  du Mésolithique, mais cette décision est fondée sur la matière première de l'lamellaire: quartzite de  Wommersom. Les dimensions: 68 mm x 11 mm x 5 mm (Coll. EL -13 456). Une lamelle très intéressante est la première lamelle avec des dimensions de 80 mm x 6 mm x 5 mm,  fabriquée en un silex grenu. Ce ressemble vraiment les petits outils, trouvés dans la région, par láuteur et Mr. Paquay. Les auteurs dulivre  l'ont placé dans la période Omalien /= Rubané (?) Je suppose c'est en raison du manque de preuves d'une origine mésolithique.

The characteristics of  find spots, where numerous small tools were found,  possibly could be used to determine Mesolithic activity in the region, even contemporaneous with the LBK and the MK (Michelsberg Culture). There seems to be a correlation between the finds of small artifacts and features in the field, like edges of depression of a certain minimal dimension ( cross cut ca 10 m and more ?) in the region, at least at four different locations this was observed, as small tools were found at such locations.

Les endroits des trouvailles
Le problème c'est, les camps de chasse néolithiques pures ne sont pas connus dans notre région, même si elles existent au Moyen-Orient (pré-néolithique B à Nahal Hava, excavé  par Nigel Goring-Morris). Aux Pays-Bas,  camps de chasse du Mésolithique final ont été signalés (e.g. Kooijmans, 2001) et, comme dans le sud du Limbourg, ldes sites mixtes du Mésolithique et Néolithique existent (par exemple, 'Urk- E4; Peeters, 2001). Les sites mixtes Mésolithiques/ Néolithiques on trouve ainsi pour le Limbourg Sud (Maastricht- Neercanne, St. Geertruid -Rijckholt,) et pour la région du Geer ( comm. Bassenge, comm. Lanaye Visé -Caster, Eben-Emael- Lava) qui ont été remarqués par l'auteur, bien que parfois une différence dans l'utilisation du site peuvent être notifié: une séparation des concentrations plus étroites ou outils pourraient être remarqué à Neercanne (NL), Vise-Lanaye (B) et à Anixhe (B).La distence entre les trouvailles des art;efacts plus petits et bien Néolithiques est remarquable.Même lorsque des objets trouvés à la surface sont déplacés en labourant le terrain, ils sont à ca 10 m de leur contexte d'origine fiduciaire (voir par exemple Collins & Bras, 2004; Roper 1976; Sipola 2009 ;), donc ils nous donnent une indication sur les activités préhistoriques à un endroit dans l'emplacement ( locus, sub-locus) Au Néolithique, la  production des outils  a eu lieu dans les 'villages', ou en cas de sites miniers en silex, à proximité des mines de silex.
Ce qui est intéressant dans la collection d artefacts de surface c' est le terrain qui pourrait nous donner quelques informations en combinaison avec ce que l'on trouve. Les dépressions  d'une taille considérable sont encore visibles et certains, en particulier dans la region au sud et sud- ouest de Maastricht,  encore contient de l'eau. Quelques vieux  "gully 's " (un type caractéristique «ravin», creusé dans la terre par l'influence de l'eau)  parfois sont encore visibles dans le paysage, (mais toujours influencé par des effets de démolitions, tellement rempli de couches colluviual), indiquant d' incisions anciens par les précipitations et possible , les sources d'eau préhistoriques disparues.Tels endroits de dépressions différents, encore visibles, peut jouer un rôle pour l'interpretation des objets trouvés.   La coïncidence est trop grand pour suggérer que l' érosion  demontre le Mésolithique à la surface ici, comme dans la plupart  des champs ( avec érosion)   il n'y a aucun signe du Mésolithique.

Les caractéristiques des lieux où de nombreux petits outils ont été trouvés, pourraient éventuellement être utilisés pour déterminer l'activité du Mésolithique dans la région, avec une attention particulière aux caractéristiques dans le terrain, telles que des coupes en forme de cuvette ( depressions).
Il semble d'exister une corrélation entre les trouvailles  des petits outils et les dépressions en forme de cuvette

The Rijckholt Flint mine area in a rough drawing, with actual visible depressions, which were possibly water containing during the pre- Neolithic period, assuming large Neolithic activities and land- use  caused accelerated water runoff and changing watertables.  In red are marked  the  find spots of 'small tools' that do not really fit in the Nesolithic period of the flint mining activities (Michelsberg Culture, ca 4000 BC- 2700 BC),  at the same time these have been found  at the border (former shores?) of possible small swallow lakes in Dutch: "vennen"(?) which could have been remains of the late Glacial melting of permafrost in the higher parts of the South Limburg plateau

La zone mine de silex Rijckholt (esquisse), avec de  dépressions encore visibles, éventuellement dánciens plans d'eau  pendantde la période pré-néolithique. En rouge des endroits avec des trouvailles de petits outils ( trouvés  été 2003)  qui ne rentrent pas dans la période Nesolithic des activités minières de silex de la  Culture Michelsberg , ca 4000 BC-2700 BC - au bord des petits 'lacs' , en néerlandais "vennen"?

 Typical smaller blades from the Neolithic  produced near St. Geertruid (Rijckholt flint) semi -product (Arban coll.)
Petites lames typiques du Néolithique produit près de Saint-Geertruid (Rijckholt silex) - demi fabrication (coll. Arban)

A mesolithic core from the South Limburg plateau (NL)
Nucléus mésolithique du Plateua de Limbourg Sud, Pays -Bas

(1) See e.g. Portable Antiquities Scheme images of small Neolithic cores

The following text is only available in English

Intermezzo: Notes on small flint tools and tools on debris

- after surface finds from a tool production site (VRBC) near Rijckholt, NL -

Flint group of small elements: debris, processed debris, truncated blades and flakelets.
The flint group is formed by small flint objects, which can be separated into groups of debitage waste, truncated blades (parts and waste) and small flakelets.
At first there is the debris that is clearly not suitable for further processing: these objects are either too small, too irregular in shape ('crumbled'), too curved, bowed or they have edges which are angular and thick.
Secondly, there is the debris of regular blades and bladelets, which is often suitable for further adaptation by further edge retouch, except for thick proximal parts with expressive bulbs, which all seem to be rejected, and truncated blade parts which are too irregular in shape, sometimes also with flared ribs and edges which are rounded or too thick for further adaptation.
Thirdly, there is a large group of debris, that has accidentally a certain shape, which is, even by minimum effort, suitable for further adaptation in a preconceived idea about a functional tool, e.g. triangular oblong pointed shapes that are easily transformed into borers or drills by adaptation of one or more sides of the point, shapes that are oblong triangle in cross section, forming preforms for backed knives, shapes with a coincidentally formed straight tapered side, (which also could be the distal part of the flake/ blade) that can easily be transformed in small scrapers or knives.
Other examples include coincidentally formed extended, rounded parts that can be transformed into useful awls by edge retouch, , depending on thickness of the edge (for steep retouch).
Than, there is a group of debitage debris, consisting of very small flakes, that do not show any signs of further adaptation, which must be considered debitage waste of the production of large tools , such as ax heads, mining picks, large scrapers, or as a byproduct of tool core preparation.
Some of the debris shows natural curved sides, that are always angular in a cross section view.

Retouch at edges.
In the varieties of edge retouch there is a range between micro retouch at the fine  edge and denticulated edges at coarse edges. Retouch, caused by the preparation of blade cores and platforms also is present. This tool production retouch at edges appears as unidirectional 'rough' striking of an edge, often very local, leaving small dashes at the striking side of the edge, often with irregularity in distance between the individual, separate blows at the edge, most of the time without overlap.
All sorts of retouch have been established, like plate retouch, inverse plate retouch, a steep retouch changing at the edge in a plate retouch, altering retouch (often depending on the properties of the edge, provoking a spread of force at a single edge) bifacial retouch (at more thick, tapered edges).
Retouch that must be considered as 'use -wear retouch' also appears frequently. In such cases, the edge might be very damaged, leaving 'large' curved gaps, often only very small part of the original edge with intentional made retouch is visible, sometimes this is completely absent.
The presence of an intentional, expressive retouch is also highly dependent on the type of used flint, as the light gray, more granular flint seems to be hardly secondary retouched where use wear retouch on the other hand is very common at parts of the edges in this flint type group.
This also counts for the laminar elements of the light gray flint type.
Notches occur as natural features at edges, where any regular retouch is absent, while at the same time some edge damaging is often visible, but whether this has been caused by use is not clear. Notches with steep retouch occur frequently at suitable edges, several flakelets and bladelets are notched , where sometimes a single, intentional made notch seems to have been the purpose of the tool; so this is all besides of the truncated blade technique.
In the truncated blade technique, small blade fragments occur in variable sizes, often with one retouched edge: in the case of a different (unequal) surface ratio on both sides of the rib, the largest part has been used as the handle (or had been shafted) while the other part has been used as a working edge.

This aspect in surface ratio, we even also find at curved flakes, where uneveness of the surface has been used as an advantage, forming a natural edge between the handle and the working part of the surface.

Choix de  ( Choice of) References

Deeben, J. & Van Gijn, A ( 2005) Jagers en verzamelaars : synthese; in L.P.L. Kooijmans et al. ;Nederland in de prehistorie 2005 uitg Bert Bakker Amsterdam
Collins, D.B.G.,  Bras, R.L., (2004) Modeling the effects of vegetation-erosion

coupling on landscape evolution: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 109, no.

F03004, p. 1-11.
Dunnel, R., and Simek, J.F., (1995) Artifact Size and Plowzone Processes: Journal of
Field Archaeology, v. 22, no. 3, p. 305-319.
Hauzeur, A., Jadin, I. et Jungels, C. ( 2010) « 5000 ans avant Jésus-Christ, la grande migration ? », collections du Patrimoine Culturel de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles

Kooijmans, L.P.L. (ed) (2001) Hardinxveld-Giessendam, Polderweg. Een jachtkamp uit het Laat-Mesolithicum, 5500-5000 v. Chr., Amersfoort (Rapportage Archeologische Monumentenzorg 83).
Peters, F.J.C & J.H.M. Peeters (eds) (2001) De opgraving van de mesolithische en neolithische vindplaats Urk-E4 (Domineesweg, gemeente Urk), Amersfoort (Rapportage Archeologische Monumentenzorg 93).
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within the plowzone in the Podere Funghi, Tuscany, Italy PDF 

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 Small tools from the region of Mheer (NL)


The region around Banholt was obviously not only a popular region with  the people of  the Linear Bandkermik (LBK), that lived in the triangle of Sittard, Elsloo and Geleen ("Graetheide"), but also with  people with a nomadic lifestyle.
The Mesolithic is in the region known at locations of Termaar - Endepoel ,and  near Bruisterbosch ( see at this blog: Mesolithic finds near Bruisterbosch (NL) , and it looks like the primary reason was the availability of relative good quality eluvium- flint.

It was august 2012, not far from the dutch village of Mheer, (Mheer in Google maps), see image above for location,  at a plowed field, a small amount of micro- tools was found in a flint scatter , ( with some microliths), not far from a rather steep depression near the field, which was the main reason to search there.
Most of the  micro- tools are non -geometric microliths, (microliths s.l.), only a few are made in a bladelet -( micro-burin) technique. This is what could be described as  a 'flake based micro-tool industry' , also noticed at St. Geertruid- Rijckholt .
This makes raises the question, if several of the retouched pieces are not made on debris, that has been accumulated by the fabrication of other ( small) tools. Some cores, found at the place seem to confirm this. In that case, the 'nice' artifacts were taken away, while the useful debitage waste was used at the location, so nothing was really spoiled. It turns out by this,  that these people handled  the 'rare' flint very careful. 

Artifacts from the field,  small blades, bladelets and flakelets all artifacts  are carefully retouched. The black flint type is the regular ( early Neolithic "surface"mined ) eluvium flint of Banholt, but the grey type is  originally from the same mine location . Tool types are variable, like  backed knives, small scrapers and drills.

An example of a retouched edge, which is glossy,  most likely this was used for cutting plant materials

Not only small tools were found at this field. Some average sized, partially retouched tools ( 4-7 cm  in length) were found,  probably from the broad period of the Late-Upper- Palaeolithic  - Middle -Mesolithic, based on the deviant patina and because they were only found among the pebbles of gravels, that have been plowed up recently.

Short description of the tools
Most micro -tools were made on  small prepared platforms, in a laminar technique. However, several retouched micro -flakes show curved ribs and curved, hollow shaped flakes, where the very fine retouch has been placed carefully at the edge of the distal end. This type of conchoidal flake ( which looks a little bit extreme bowed, could easily be held  between thumb and forefinger. Another type of micro flake is the "orange segment type " - micro -flake, with a more straight section,  with a bowed natural back. This flake measures almost 2,0 cm  and is only  0,8 cm wide. The straight edge has been retouched, till the distal end, that is pointed to be used as a borer. Such 'orange segment type ' flakes usually in an appearence with more triangle sections and in a more large version, are normally attributed to the LBK.
Small drills/ borers occur. Often only at one side of the drill head has been retouched, inverse.
An alternate retouch has gently been placed at the edges of  the single find of a  micro -bladelet ( which measures 0, 5 mm wide, 1,2 cm long)  and could be regarded as a small scraper. This type of retouch is common in palaeolithic and epi-palaeolithic traditions ( Natufian, see e.g. Betts 1982), i.c. this retouch type would prevent the small bladelet for damage during tool use. The retouch sometimes has been placed on a curved edge, demonstrating the use of non perfect flakes, most likely debris.

The field
Elevation lines on the topographical map of the region can help to find former affluents and possible springs. The drain system of an affluent sometimes is partially visible in the field. In this case of the field near Mheer, a more large incision is visible, such drains often were fed by a number of springs at the plateaus edge , and the small brook often ended in a pool or bowlshaped  marshland, to continue to flow down.Smaller attributes sometimes are visible and regarding the find location in the image below ( marked with the pink elongated circle) the original find location ( red circle) was located at a bump near a spring.

Comparison with other finds from this region
 The microliths, found before at St. Martensvoeren ( Fouron -St. -Martin) in Belgium are in the same dimensions but quite different, ( geometric) and of a different flint type ( light, yellow and brown, likely from Rullen, Belgium). Small tools found near Rijckholt have the same appearance.
It is not possible yet to say anything about a relation between the small flake industry, coming from the various locations.

Prehistoric people would have  changed their lithic -sample strategy from surface collecting pebbles at the riverbanks in the valleys during the  early  - middle Palaeolithic  till finally the underground mining of high quality flint from the desired horizons during the Neolithic.

  The collected items are mostly of bad quality ( in shape, but also in approximation of tool -finishing) and would probably reflect a part of the original flint tools on the field as the more nice looking items are collected by others. Notwithstanding the fact the items do not represent a true assemblage, the artifacts in itself raise much questions. 
One of the theories is, the small ad- hoc made tools are of a first economy , tool supply for the time that is necessary during the stay at the location for tool fabrication. Only the best tools were taken away for use elsewhere, used in a 'second economy' in flint poor regions..This would explain the low investment in these tools. 
Some questions that remain are: 
- What are the determinants ( size, thickness, etc) for a small flake / debris  to be re- used as a tool?
- Is this type of tool unique at tool fabrication locations or do we find them elsewhere so did they have a higher value? 
- Is there a parallel with the pebble tool production at convenient pebble clasts, that is: is the abundance of raw material responsible for the low investment in the material at the location ?


References / internet

Buurman, P.; Jongmans, A.G.; Broekhuizen, J.; Miedema, R. ( 1985) Genesis of the flint eluvium and related beds in South Limburg, The Netherlands    Geologie en Mijnbouw 64 (1985). - ISSN 0016-7746 - p. 89 - 102. Laboratorium voor Bodemkunde en geologie Laboratory of Soil
Betts A  1982  A Natufian site in the Black Desert, Eastern Jordan  Paléorient  lien  Vol.   8   Issue   8-2  pp. 79-82
Geier  Clarence R. (1974),  Notes on a lithic  micro-tool  industry from the plains periphery  
Plains Anthropologist Vol. 19, No. 66, Part 1 pp. 272-286 Plains Anthropological Society