This chert Aterian point is from Algeria. An Aterian point is a flake with a stem manufactured by hard-hammer percussion on the flake’s proximal end. They were used as knives and scraping tools. Aterian points are found in the Saharan and Nile River regions of North African, and they date to between ca. 30,000-145,000 BP.
Use-wear and shape analyses of Aterian points have demonstrated that although these tools resemble dart or spear armatures, they were primarily used as hafted knives and scrapers. The tools were resharpened while in the haft, proceeding from the tip down, resulting in large variations in shape and asymmetry without altering the tang. The tang was used for securing the tool in a (presumably wood) handle, and the thick morphology of the tang has implied to some archaeologists that Aterian points were pressed into a hole, or socket, in the handle. The persistence of Aterian points for some 115,000 years attests the success of this hafting method. The artefact in this model was probably struck from a Levallois (Nubian) core, and appears not to have been resharpened prior to discard.
Aterian stemmed points are a persistent and recurring aspect of the Middle Stone Age found on North African sites in the Saharan Desert region. During the Middle Stone Age in Africa, beginning ca. 280,000 BP, the large-scale Saharan cycles of wet and dry periods served as a sort of ‘pump’ for the movement and turnover of hominin populations. The appearance of our species, Homo sapiens, occurred in Africa during this time, and the stone toolkits diversified regionally across the vast North African area. In fact, the Aterian period is among the earliest examples world-wide of the sort of regional stone tool diversity which typifies the technological pattern associated with modern humans from then on.
The earliest example of the Aterian Industry appears at Ifri n’Ammar, Morocco, ca. 145,000 BP. Aterian points then appear amidst a myriad of other tool types—notably including small to medium-sized ‘foliate’ bifaces—until ca. 30,000 BP. Aterian points are found alongside the Levallois approach to core reduction, and many, if not most, Aterian points were made on blanks struck from Levallois cores.