Scraping hide in the early Upper Paleolithic: Insights into the life and function of the Protoaurignacian endscrapers at Fumane Cave

Alessandro Aleo, Rossella Duches, Armando Falcucci, Veerle Rots, Marco Peresani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
143 Downloads (Pure)


Endscrapers are specialized tools that are usually recovered in great quantities in every Upper Paleolithic site in Europe. Although they make their first ephemeral appearance in the Middle–late Middle Paleolithic transitional technocomplexes, endscrapers commonly appear in toolkits from initial and early Upper Paleolithic traditions onwards. Nevertheless, endscrapers and, in general, domestic tools have attracted relatively little attention in debates revolving around the significance of technological change, tool function, and tool specialization after the end of the Middle Paleolithic. With the aim to overcome this paucity of information, here, we present the results of a techno-functional study performed on the large endscraper assemblage recovered from the early and late Protoaurignacian layers at Fumane Cave in northeastern Italy. We analyzed these artifacts using technological, morpho-metrical, typological, and functional approaches. Despite the large morphological variability, use-wear traces reveal functional consistency and high levels of specialization for these tools. Almost all the use-wear traces we recorded developed from hide working with transverse motion. Moreover, we find no evidence that endscrapers were involved in the production of bone and antler tools during the late Protoaurignacian. Macroscopic and microscopic wear on the lateral edges of tools point to a considerable number of hafted endscrapers, which implies systematic time investment and planning depth. Comparison with the few endscrapers from transitional industries that have been analyzed highlights marked differences in the production, morphology, and use of these tools and reinforces our view of the Aurignacian as a complex not directly related with preceding European traditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number137
Number of pages27
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aurignacian
  • Endscraper
  • Hafting
  • Italy
  • Technology
  • Use-wear traces


Dive into the research topics of 'Scraping hide in the early Upper Paleolithic: Insights into the life and function of the Protoaurignacian endscrapers at Fumane Cave'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this