Who invented the Upper Paleolithic???

Glenn Morton (grmorton@psyberlink.net)
Wed, 09 Jul 1997 22:44:44 -0500

Who Invented the Upper Paleolithic?
Glenn R. Morton

One of the main Christian apologetical approaches to the issue of fossil man
has been based upon an assumption, a very big assumption. The assumption
is that the Aurignacian tools found in Europe beginning around 43,000 years
ago, were made by anatomically modern Homo sapiens. One finds in the
anthropological literature all the time statements like,

"Approximately 40,000 years ago, Homo sapiens sapiens appeared--humans
of modern physical type, represented by such early examples as Cro-magnon
man found in the Dordogne region of France." Barnouw, 1982, p. 161)

This is based upon an outdated association of Upper Paleolithic tool
assemblages with modern humans and Middle Paleolithic tool assemblages
with Neanderthals. It has been at least 15 years since this association has
been proven erroneous yet it is still repeated, even by anthropologists.
Traditionally Middle Paleolithic tools are called Mousterian or
Levalloisian and were believed to be the toolkit produced by Neanderthal man.
Upper Paleolithic tools kits have names such as Chatelperronian, Aurignacian,
Gravettian, Perigordian and Magdalenian and are (or were) believed to be the
product of Homo sapiens.. These names are important as we see what the
flimsy evidence is for Homo sapiens having invented the Upper Paleolithic
tool kits. The chronology of Paleolithic toolkits are as follows:

Mousterian tools--prior to 35,000 years ago--Traditionally associated with

Aurignacian tools--43--23,000 years ago--Traditionally associated with Homo

Chatelperronian tools--36-33,000 years ago--originally considered the 1st
Upper Paleolithic Homo sapiens tools. For a long time, no bodies were found
with these tools.

Gravettian tools--27-23,000 years ago--always found with Homo sapiens.

The human remains found in Europe do not follow the pattern one would
expect from the tools. What has happened is that historically the connection
was made between human morphology and tools. People have been slow to
change. In 1972 one could correctly write,

"Some 40,000 years ago, at the end of the first ice advance of the complex
Wurm glaciation, classical neanderthal populations disappeared from Europe.
Their going remains something of a mystery, for while cave deposits show
that Europe continued to be inhabited, there were no further human skeletons
recovered during an interval of about 15,000 years, that is, until 25,000 years
ago." (Birdsell, 1972, p. 286)

Today the actual skeletal evidence says something entirely different about the
European distribution of fossil man.

Neanderthals---Prior to 33,000 years ago

Modern man-- After 33,850 years ago.

So why do anthropologists say that modern man was in Europe 40-50,000
years ago? By the acceptance of a simple assumption. Stringer and Gamble

"If we can accept, as seems likely, that the Aurignacian was
associated with the spread of Cro-Magnons into Europe, then the timing and
direction of their colonization can be reconstructed. "(Stringer and Gamble,
1993, p. 184)

With the acceptance of this assumption that Neanderthal never made Upper
Paleolithic tools, many items become fixed in anthropological thought.
Neanderthals become less than the Cro-Magnons, Replacement theory
becomes the only accepted form of European pre-history. The assumption
above MUST be correct for the reasoning used by many Christians to be
correct. Why? Because there are NO undoubted, anatomically modern
human fossils found in Europe prior to 34,000 years ago. If this assumption is
wrong and Neanderthal made Upper Paleolithic tools, then European pre-
history would have to be re-written.

Thirty-five years ago anthropologists believed that Neanderthal could not have
made the early Upper Paleolithic Chatelperronian toolkit mentioned above.
Jaquetta Hawkes wrote,

"Furthermore, western Europe's possession of man's first great artistic
creations justifies giving it a peculiar pre-eminence. Nevertheless, in
spite of
the richness and complexity of the European Upper Palaeolithic, it appears
almost certain that gthe blade tradition did not originate there. The Picture
given by the great series of classic cultures of the French caves is rather that
they were brought in when already more or less fully developed, even though
later new groups evolved locally. Europe can show no transitional cultures
suggesting the evolution of either the latest Acheulian or the Levalloisio-
Mousterian tradition towards the earliest known blade culture, the
Chatelperronian. Rather, as has been said, it was brought in by modern man
and superseded the neanderthal's Mousterian with a sharp break." (Hawkes
1963, p. 138)

This splendid vision of poor Neanderthal was crushed when early this decade
the only identifiable human remains ever found at a Chatelperronian site,
turned out to be Neanderthal. (Hublin et al, 1996, p. 224) This was first
greeted by scepticism then acceptance. If this type of event repeats with the
Aurignacian, there are many implications.
The traditional view, that anatomically modern man swept out of the
Middle East and conquered Europe between 40 and 30,000 years ago, should
have left evidence of itself. There should be Upper Paleolithic tools found in
Palestine PRIOR to finding them in Europe. Upper Paleolithic tools should
replace Neanderthal-made Mousterian tools in Eastern Europe PRIOR to the
replacement in Western Europe. The pattern is not this simple. The facts
contradict the expectations of an army of invading modern Humans sweeping
into Europe with their new technology.

"The fact that 'the Aurignacian' is manifestly an archeological construct and
that so-called 'Aurignacian' assemblages in the Near East are younger than
their European counterparts, should lead to more serious consideration of the
convergence hypothesis. Archeologist-perceived typological similarities do not
ethnic or cultural identity make."(Straus et al, 1993, p. 20)

This data implies that the Aurignacian was a EUROPEAN invention. But
Christian apologists, who have not delved deeply into the anthropological
details, have blindly followed suit with the twenty year old anthropological
framework of Upper Paleolithic tools being associated with modern Homo
sapiens. Wilcox writes (AMH=anatomically modern human),

"In contrast, the Aurignacian evidence of the AMH CroMagnon people shows
rapid continuous change.
"The extended period of Neanderthal cultural stasis is not true of any AMH
population, including modern 'stone age' groups such as the native people of
Australia" (Wilcox 1996) p. 92)

Zimmer writes:

"The extensively investigated transition from Middle to Upper Paleolithic in
Europe may serve as an example of the latter expansion. The transition
confounds two events: a change from Mousterian to blade stone tool
technologies and the respective appearance and disappearance of human and
Neanderthal fossils. although the simplistic equation of technology and
hominids has been abandoned it remains that no Neanderthal fossils date
later than 33 kyr." (Zimmer, 1996, p. 21-22)

But, as noted above, what never seems to be mentioned is that anatomically
modern fossils are NOT found in Europe until somewhere around 34,000
years ago, yet there are many Upper Paleolithic, early Aurignacian sites in
Neanderthal Europe!.

The earliest Aurignacian (Upper Palaeolithic) stone tools is said to be found
first at Bacho Kiro, Bulgaria and are associated with a radiocarbon date of
>43,000 ago. There are some characteristic tools missing at this site, but
overall it is an Aurignacian toolkit. (Gamble, 1995, p. 159-161.) This earliest
site of the Upper Paleolithic does have some very fragmentary human
remains with it. Christopher Stringer relates,

"The Baco Kiro evidence for the appearance of an Arignacian-like industry
in Bulgaria prior to 40,000 years ago is also strong, but although from casts
and photographs the hominid remains certainly appear 'modern' in
morphology, they are too incomplete to allow decisive comment at present."
(Stringer, 1982, p. 691)

Fred Smith agrees,

"Finally, very fragmentary, undescribed hominid remains have been
reported from Layer 11 at Baco Kiro in Bulgaria. Their fragmentary condition
may preclude accurate anatomical assessment, but Kozlowski reports that
they are primitive modern H. sapiens. Since these remains are possibly
associated with a date of > 43,000 B.P., a detailed morphological study may
establish them as the earliest chronolometrically date modern H. sapeins
specimens from Europe." (Smith, 1982, p. 682)

There is a cluster of Aurignacian sites dateing from 40-44,000 years ago in
central Europe. But none of them except Bacho Kiro have any human
remains. The next earliest example of the Upper Paleolithic Aurignacian
comes from clear across the continent, in Spain, the last refuge of the
Neanderthal! Straus et al, write,

"As in Cantabria, we have no evidence as to which hominids(s) was(were) the
maker(s) of the Aurignacian artifacts, but unlike Cantabria, there is no clear
indication of a separate Chatelperronian industry (a possible MP-UP
technological 'hybrid') in Catalonia.
"The new dates for the appearance of the so called Aurignacian
technology in northern Spain are far older than any from the rest of Western
Europe including SW Germany. They are much older than any dates for the
Chatelperronian of France or for the Uluzzian (the Italian stratigraphic and
typological equivalent of the Chatelperronian). They are about the same as
the CvC14 dates for the Szeletian and Bohu-nician (Mousterian-Upper
Paleolithic 'hybrid' industries) of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. While the
northern Spanish Aurignacian dates are older than several early Aurignacian
CvC14 determinations from Eastern and Central Europe (e.g., Velika Pecina,
Pesko and Krems), they are about the same or perhaps somewhat younger
than other early Aurignacian dates from Samuilica (42.8+/-1.3 ka bp) and
Bacho Kiro in Bulgaria (a single infinite date of >43 ka bp), Istallosko
level 9 in
Hungary (44.3+/-1.9 and 39.7+/-0.9 ka bp) and Willendorf level 2 in Lower
Austria (39.5 +1.55/-1.2 ka bp and 44.7+3.7/-2.5 ka bp). All these sites
should be redated with multiple determinations to obtain the best possible
estimates of age. Single dates published as 'finite', but that are older than
c.30ka bp, should probably be considered as minima. At most, there would
seem to be a difference of ca. 5 ka between the oldest Aurignacian dates in
Central and Eastern Europe (regions between which there is no clear temporal
cline) and those of northern Spain. Even this relatively short amount of time
for the supposed 'spread' of Aurignacian people or ideas across ca. 2300 km
from SE to SW Europe may prove illusory." (Straus, et al, 1993, p. 14)

No human remains are found with the oldest layers at any of these sites
except Bacho Kiro. Straus et all relate,

"The identity of the makers of the early Aurignacian in SW France is unknown;
there are no well-dated hominid remains of any subspecies clearly associated
with this period."(Straus et al, 1993, p. 13)

and (AMH=modern humans)

"For one thing, despite a century and a quarter of often intensive
archeological and paleontological research, no remains of AMH attributable to
the period between about 40-30 ka bp (let alone earlier) have been found in
Spain or Portugal. Indeed for all of Europe, well-dated remains of AMH are at
best rare until about 30 ka bp. "(Straus et al, 1993, p. 19)

But then came 1995. In that year, Karavanic published some discoveries from
Vindija Cave in Yugoslavia in which a Neanderthal was found apparently
associated with Upper Paleolithic Aurignacian tools.This has similarities to the
discovery that the Chatelperronian tools were made by Neanderthal. History
may be about to repeat itself. If this is true, it is quite possible that
Neanderthal was the inventor of both of the early Upper Paleolithic tool
traditions. Karavanic writes:

"Vindija level G1 is the earliest level which can reliably be attributed to
the Upper Paleolithic. Mousterian stone tool types such as sidescrapers, but
also tools displaying Upper Paleolithic traints, are present. A bone point with
a split base, typical of the Aurignacian, and bone points with massive bases
are of particular significance. Therefore, the material culture is
considered to
belong to the Aurignacian. The leaf-shaped stone point should also be
attributed to the Aurignacian, while similar points found in older G complex
levels are to be attributed to the Mousterian. Despite a very few leaf-shaped
points, Vindija cannot be attributed to the Szeletian as Malez has done. It
ought to be noted that the Kamen site in Bosnia has also yielded bilaterally
retouched points which can be attributed to the Late Mousterian or
"Fossil human remains have been found close to the split-base point
in Vindija level G1. This part of the level was not disturbed by
Along with traits typical of modern man, the fossils also display some
morphological characteristics of late Neanderthal man. Unless the few stone
artifacts were mixed by cryoturbation with artifacts from underlying layers,
characteristics and the fossil human remains might suggest a continuous
transition from the Middle Paleolithic to the Upper Paleolithic at this
site. It
could be argued that the association of the Middle Paleolithic and Upper
Paleolithic stone tool types, as well as the fossil hominids, with the Upper
Paleolithic bone industry could be caused by cryoturbation disturbances
described by Malez and Rukavina. However, as I mentioned before, certain
parts of the cave (the left half) show undisturbed stratigraphic layering,
so the
association of the possible Neanderthals with Aurignacian bone tools cannot
be explained by geological processes or by human activity. Furthermore,
microscope analysis has confirmed that fine particles of distinctively colored
red-brown sediment characteristic of level G1 have infiltrated the remains of
the hominids and the bone tools, thus proving their contemporaneity--they
belong to the same chronostratigraphic level, now dated to 33,000+/-400 B.P."
(Karavanic, 1995, p. 25-26.

The infiltration of the same minerals from the strata is an extremely important
fact and demonstrates that the two objects have been lying in the ground for a
similar amount of time.

Smith and Ahern write,

"The possibility that this establishes an association of Neandertals with the
Aurignacian is of potentially major significance, since the general assumption
is that only early modern Europeans produced the Aurignacian. However, the
unequivocal establishment of the archaeological association of the Vindija G1
hominids will require additional excavation at the site." (Smith and Ahern,
1994, p. 279) , p. 279

The fact that the oldest, dated, unquestioned, anatomically modern human in
Europe is 33,850 years ago (Smith 1982, p. 680)., one must certainly wonder
if Neanderthal was more inventive than Christians have generally believed.
For all of the certainty which is exuded concerning the association of the early
Upper Paleolithic with modern man, one would certainly feel better if there
were modern human fossils to support that contention.


Barnouw, Victor, 1982. Physical Anthropology and Archaeology, (Homewood:
The Dorsey Press, 1982).

J. B. Birdsell, 1972, Human Evolution, (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1972)

Gamble, Clive, Timewalkers, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994).

Hublin, Jean-Jacques,Fred Spoor, Marc Braun F.Zonnenveld and Silvana
Condemi, 1996, "A Late Neanderthal Associated with Upper Palaeolithic
Artefacts," Nature, 381: May 16, 1996, p. 224

Karavanic, Ivor, "Upper Paleolithic Occupation Levels and Late-Occurring
Neandertal at Vindija Cave (Croatia) in the Context of Central Europe and the
Balkans," Journal of Anthropological Research, 51(1995):1:9-36.

Smith, Fred H., 1982. "Upper Pleistocene Hominid Evolution in South-Central
Europe: A Review of the Evidence and Analysis of Trends," Current
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Smith, Fred H.,and James C. Ahern, 1994, "Brief Communication: Additional
Cranial Remains From Vindija Cave, Croatia," American journal of Physical
Anthropology, 93:275-280(1994)

Straus, Lawrence G., James L. Bischoff and Eudald Carbonell, 1993. "A
Review of the Middle to Upper Paleolithic Transition in Iberia", Prehistoire
Europeenne, 3(January, 1993):11-27.

C.B. Stringer, "Comments", Current Anthropology, 23(1982):6:690-691

Stringer, Chris and Clive Gamble, 1993, In Search of the Neanderthals, (New
York: Thames and Hudson, 1993), p.184

Wilcox, David L., 1996 "Adam, Where Are You? Changing Paradigms in
Paleoanthropology," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith , 48:2( June

Zimmer, Raymond, "The Creation of Man and the Evolutionary Record,"
Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith , 48:1( March, 1996).


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