This flint naviform bidirectional blade core from the Chalcolithic site of Teleilat el Ghassul, Jordan. The site dates to ca. 6400-5500 BP. This artefact was excavated by the famous Australian archaeologist, Basil Hennessy.
This blade core was exhausted of usable blades, and discarded. The distal ends of the platform surfaces nearly meet on the backside of the core. Blades have been struck from both of the core platforms.
The blade core is curated by the UNE Museum of Antiquities, MA1973.10.1.
Naviform blade cores are bidirectional with platforms at opposite ends of the core face. The approach to core reduction can be seen in the Upper Palaeolithic deposits at Ksar Akil in Lebanon, Bidirectional core reduction is also seen in the Upper Palaeolithic Swiderian Culture in Poland, and also occurs elsewhere in Palaeolithic Europe and North Africa. Bidirectional blade cores occur in late Chalcolithic and early Neolithic deposits at Mureybet and Ain el-Kerkh in Syria and Kharaneh IV and Teleilat el Ghassul in Jordan. By the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, ca. 9600 BP, naviform technology was the blade-making method of choice in the Levant, Anatolia, and the Tigris-Euphrates Basin. Naviform blade cores declined during the Pottery Neolithic in favour of indirect percussion of the Caanean blade cores which came to dominate the Bronze Age. Blades struck from Naviform cores were used directly as cutting tools, or as blanks to make arrowheads and sickle elements. The approach to reduction was standardised and geared towards producing long blades with relatively flat profiles. Specialist flintknappers made these blades in extensive workshops; for instance, at Yiftahel in Israel, a short distance from Nazareth, more than 10 tons of flint artefacts were excavated, including a cached stockpile of 21 early stage naviform cores and a refuse pit containing hundreds of thousands of discarded naviform cores, rejected blades and associated flakes.
Naviform cores have a ‘boat-shaped’ configuration, and, in this analogy, the flat deck of the boat is the core face, and the upcurved ends of the hull are the platform surfaces. Blades are struck from either end of the deck. The core blank is a triangular biface made on a flint nodules by hard-hammer percussion flaking. The core face was prepared by bifacial flaking, creating a crested ridge. Platform spalls were then detached from bifacial edges at either end of the crest, forming a platform angle of about 50 degrees, and creating ‘boat spalls’. These were likely struck on an anvil stone in burin-like fashion. Platform spalls may be removed periodically during reduction to correct the angle of the platform relative to the core face. The back of the core was often flaked bifacially or unifacially to make the core comfortable to hold during blade production. Next the crested blade was removed from the core to establish the core face. Crested blade removal, and all subsequent blade removals, was accomplish by expertly-controlled hard-hammer direct percussion using a soft hammerstone. A characteristic of naviform blade-making was the isolation of the striking platform by removing small flakes or bladelets (the latter platform isolation flakes may have been removed by pressure). The elongated ridges from striking the crested blade were used to guide reduction from either platform, as circumstances dictated. Mistakes such as hinge or step terminations could be fixed by removing a blade from the opposite platform, undercutting and eliminating the problem area from the core face, thus allowing further reduction. Also, blade removals could be carefully sequenced to provide flakes of the desired plan shape and cross section. A variety of different naviform core reduction sequences have been identified. The archaeologist and flintknapper Phil Wilke, who masterfully reconstructed and replicated naviform blade technology, has said ‘Of all the percussion-blade technologies, [naviform core reduction] provided the knapper with the greatest number of options to ensure continued and successful production of blades.’