The artefact is described as an ‘end scraper’ because the distal end of the flake was unifacially retouched to form a curved edge. Use-wear studies have shown that retouched flakes with this morphology were often used for hide scraping, hence the functional label. However, these tools may have also been used for other tasks, and were not necessarily used for processing hides. The artefact in this model shows careful unifacial percussion retouch on the distal end and on both lateral margins. The retouch may have been accomplished with a soft hammer, such as bone or antler.
A drawing of this artefact appears as Figure 5f in Dinnis et al., 2019, New data for the Early Upper Paleolithic of Kostenki (Russia), Journal of Human Evolution 127:21-40.
The artefact is curated by the Institute for the History of Material Culture, Saint Petersburg.
The archaeological site of Kostënki 17, which also goes by the name Spitsynskaya, was excavated by P. I. Boriskovskii in 1953 and 1955, and the site’s lower layer contained a rich archaeological assemblage of worked flint and bone, pendants and animal bones. The stone technology from Kostënki 17, Layer II, is referred to as the ‘Spitsynian’ industry. These early deposits are below the Campanian Ignimbrite, a layer of ash from a massive volcanic eruption in Italy that dates to 34,290 BP. This ash, or ‘tephra’, is an important chronological marker, as artefacts found below it must date earlier than 34,290 BP. Some researchers believe that the environmental impact of this volcanic eruption was partly responsible for the extinction of Neanderthals. This artefact is from the Kostënki 17/II assemblage, described as ‘Proto-Aurignacian’. This stone tool industry is associated with the earliest movement of modern Homo sapiens from Africa and the Near East into Europe. Aurignacian people interacted with Neanderthals during this period, a legacy imprinted on modern European DNA.