BEYOND THE TECHNOLOGICAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN
THE EARLY AND LATE MESOLITHIC
At the beginning of the 7th millennium BC, from Tunisia to Scandinavia and the Alps to the Atlantic, the technical baggage of Mesolithic societies underwent profound changes. Flaked artifact styles, tool types, weapon hafting techniques and the volumetric principles of stone flaking were modified by more than simple adjustments to the percussion techniques commonly used, with pressure flaking and indirect percussion replacing direct hard hammer percussion. This division of the Mesolithic in Western Europe has more to do with the technology used to transform lithic raw materials than with tool typology. This observation was in fact not lost to some archaeologists of the last century, such as E. Octobon and J.G.D. Clark, who accorded less importance to punctilious arrowhead classifications than to the general structure of flaked productions, or S.K. Kozlowski who described Mesolithic Europe as being split into two successive typological “trends” (the S and K components). In this article, I first present a summary of the changes observed in the early 7th millennium, as well as the enduring features of Mesolithic material culture. I then examine possible correlations with paleo-environmental and social phenomena to show that for the moment there are no clear links to these factors. While the ultimate goal is to clearly define this vast change in civilization, it is now necessary to work at more restricted spatial and temporal scales to enhance our understanding of this fundamental phenomenon in the history of techniques on the European continent.