Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 4-1 (October 2012)Leo Verhart: Contact in stone: adzes, Keile and Spitzhauen in the Lower Rhine Basin1

1 Introduction

An intriguing aspect of the neolithisation process of Mesolithic communities north of the loess is their contact with Bandkeramik farmers and their successors. The distribution of the polished stone implements of these last communities all over the north-western European Plain can be regarded as one of the most prominent expressions of contact between these communities. This renewed overview of the ‘danubian’ stone implements in the Lower Rhine Area concentrates on their dimensions and repairs in relation to the distribution. It aims to specify in more detail the role these implements have played in the interaction between the last hunter-gatherers and early farmers and their contribution to our understanding of the neolithisation process. I proposed that interaction between (ethnographic-historical) societies with a different social, cultural and economic background could provide valuable information for understanding different stages of contacts between farmers and hunter-gatherers (Verhart 2000). Some of the observed phenomena will be tested with archaeological information.

This inventory of adzes, hohe durchlochte Schuhleistenkeile and Breitkeile in the Lower Rhine Basin is based on publications and national databases: the Centrale Archeologische Inventarisatie (CAI) for Belgian Flanders and Archis for the Netherlands. The German territory is outside the scope of this inventory. The artefacts have been studied and described using publications and the data available in the central databases. Only a small number of unpublished items have been seen and studied in person, mainly for practical reasons.

While finishing this article a study of Breitkeile was published by Raemaekers (Raemaekers et al. 2011). Apparently contact between modern archaeological researchers in the Lower Rhine Basin seems to be less than between farmers and hunter-gatherer 7500 years ago. Several topics, which I wanted to present in this article are now available in print. I decided to reduce the documentary character of the duplicated topics, add remarks if necessary and concentrate on subjects not treated by Raemaekers.