Iegelpoel, NL, Micro-Acheulian, c. 200-500,000 BP (?)
Microlithic artifacts from Iegelpoel, Netherlands, near the village of Anloo. Identified as polymorphic combinations of Later Acheulian thematic elements: biface/female/zoomorph/human head or mask. The site is controversial both in dating and identifications. Artifacts were discovered by Jan Evert Musch in 1981 in a freshly dug section of a new watercourse with 'pot-clay' from Elster (Mindle) Glacial (c. 450,000 BP) which Musch would date to that period or the preceding interglacial. At the time Ad Wouters declared them 'pseudo' but subsequent publication of proto-art from the Boukoulian tradition is comparable in sophistication. Musch also compares these finds to the micro-Acheulian at Helden, stratified above the the Boukoulian (c. 300,000 BP). [Musch, J. E. (1989). Middle- and old palaeolithic micro-industries in and around the Netherlands. Archaeologische Berichten 19: 78-92. Elst, NL.]
Comment: I wonder if the extent of polymorphic thematic combinations in these objects does not suggest a dating in the latter part of the Later Acheulian, perhaps comparable to the Heidelbergian at Hamburg-Wittenbergen, which would date c. 200,000 on a stylistic basis.
Comment: All objects range in size from about 1 to 2 cm. in length indicating the high degree of microlithization. The images in rows 2 and 3 are diverse views of a single extraordinary polymorphic sculpture 2.2 cm. in height consisting of seven distinct representations, including female, geometric handaxe, bear, bear cub, and three or four faces/masks. If this piece is accepted for what it appears to be, the artist was not only breathtakingly skilled in workmanship but the combination of all the primary Acheulian thematic elements is stunning. It confirms that the Acheulian mental template and religious vision was capable of highly sophisticated symbolic and storied expression.
Photo © James Harrod, collection James Harrod; courtesy of and discovered by Jan Evert Musch.