Archaeology at Vrahos

Hammer Stones and Peck Marks

Reduction sequences at Vrahos began from angular chunks of raw material, whether freshly quarried or collected from among natural clastics. In either case the chunks would have been virtually free of cortex. (Although “spoiled” surfaces and areas are common in the Vrahos silex, their occurrence has nothing of the regularity characteristic of cortex in, e.g., nodular flint.) Consequently, decortication flakes and cortical pieces in general, so helpful in reconstructing reduction sequences and assigning individual pieces to particular stages of these sequences in other quarries, cannot be counted on in the case of Vrahos. Patination is common, but its occurrence on individual pieces is not always easy to decipher. For these reasons we have rarely been able to identify pieces in the initial stages of reduction ( Fig. 8 ) . It is likely that raw material was not just collected from among clastics lying on the ground but was also quarried from the surface of the huge boulders of Vrahos. Peck marks are visible on several of those boulders. We have reasons to think that in one case at least such peck marks are prehistoric, possibly Middle Palaeolithic (Fig. 9). Hammer stones are more common near the foot of Vrahos than elsewhere in the scatter. Some are very heavy, suitable for removing chunks from silex boulders (Fig. 10).

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Fig. 8: A chunk of silex in the course of becoming a prismatic core, abandoned after removal of only a few flakes (a "pre-form"). Note that patina extends not only on the striking platform (a natural surface), but also on some of the flake scars. This complicates the interpretation of the piece. It may indicate, for instance, two episodes of flaking, separated by a long time.

figure 8

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Fig. 9: Peck marks that may be the result of Middle Palaeolithic quarrying.

figure 9

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Fig. 10: four hammer stones (a-b, c, d, e). The first, seen also before collection in the filed (a), weighs 0.72 kg. The second (c) is slightly heavier (not collected). Both are of Vrahos silex. The remaining two hammer stones (d, e) are considerably smaller. Their material is an andesite that is foreign to the Vrahos hill. They were found in secluded spots among the boulders in the periphery of Vrahos, the second together with a large prismatic core and two small cores for blades.

figure 10