Short Report: A déjeté Levallois tool from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan) and the role it plays in the chronology of the Pleistocene terraces of the Bannu Basin

Very little is known about the subcontinent's history hundreds of thousands of years ago, say 300,000-30,000 years ago, which would have been the Middle Paleolithic period for example, except for small clues left at places like the Rohri chert (flint) mines and along the Indus in Sindh and else where throughout the subcontinent. Thus it comes as a nice surprise to find a "Levallois" tool in the Bannu district of north-western Pakistan; Levallois is a term used to designate a specific kind of flint tool and spearheads made by flaking a flint core to sharp points. It is named after a cave in France where such tools were first noted in the 19th century; the sharpness and precision of the edges that result from this kind of flaking was considered a major technical breakthrough; it had to be taught and is found in north Africa and the Middle East, Afghanistan and Punjab. These finds testify to the broad expansiveness of early hominids and their technologies.

As the authors write, with this find, "the re-analysis of old collections, and the discovery of new, characteristic knapped stone artefacts in Pakistan show that Middle Palaeolithic Levallois assemblages are attested at least as far as the course of the Indus River in Lower Sindh (Biagi & Starnini 2018)" (p. 7).

Images: 1. Locations of the Levallois tool on the gravel terraces of Barrai Khuarra (n. 2) and the Neolithic site of Sheri Khan Tarakai (n. 1) (drawing by P. Biagi, 2019).
2. Déjeté Levallois tool recovered from the surface of a black varnished pebble terrace at point N32°50’18.7” - E70°28’10.3”, ca. 500 m south-west of Sheri Khan Tarakai with the indication of the points where part of the original dark grey cortex covering the flint pebble is still preserved (C), the points where the microphotographs of Figure 6 were taken (nn. 1-4), and the location of the platform (small circle) (photographs by E. Starnini, 2019).