The blade in this model was unifacially truncated by percussion flaking on each end—perhaps with anvil support—and the edge of the flake scar on one truncated surface was used as the platform to strike the burin spall down the flake’s edge. The lateral edges of the tool were also retouched by unifacial percussion flaking.
The artefact is curated by the Institute for the History of Material Culture, Saint Petersburg.
This burin is part of the Streletskian period assemblage from Kostënki 12, a large site excavated by A.N. Rogachev in the 1950s and early 1960s. The combination of blade-making typical of the Upper Palaeolithic, and bifacial flaking typical of the Middle Palaeolithic, have led some researchers to label the Streletskian as Eastern Europe’s ‘transitional industry’. In this scenario, Streletskian technology was the product of Neanderthals who were adopting blade-making through contact with modern human groups. Two layers at Kostënki 12 are thought to belong to the Streletskian period: Layer Ia and the older Layer III. A reanalysis of Kostënki 12, Layer III, has raised questions about the integrity of the deposit, and the authors suggest that the artefact is probably younger than ca. 35,000 BP.
Burins are a relatively common tool type in Palaeolithic and Mesolithic stone artefact assemblages in Europe, Western Asia, and Africa. They were usually made by truncating a flake or blade and using the truncated surface as a platform for striking one or more flakes down the flake’s edge. This creates a steep and sturdy edge on the end of the burin scar for engraving organic materials, and the steep lateral edges of the scar are suitably robust and uniform for scraping tasks. The flake detached from a burin is often referred to as a ‘burin spall’, and burin spalls may also have been used as tools.