The knapped stone assemblage from Boldogkőváralja in the light of a new statistical evaluation

Norbert Faragó1, Zsolt Mester2, Attila Király3

1 Corresponding author. Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest Email:
2 Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Email:
3 Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Email: ORCiD:

Cite as Faragó, N., Mester, Zs., & Király, A. (2020). The knapped stone assemblage from Boldogkőváralja in the light of a new statistical evaluation. Litikum – Journal of the Lithic Research Roundtable, 8 (Studies commemorating Jacques Tixier), 55–70.

Abstract. One of the most famous knapped stone assemblages, the 566 intact blades found in a large vessel at Boldogkőváralja- Tekeres-patak, dated to the Bükk culture (5200–5000 BC) has been at the forefront of the research for decades. Our intention was three-fold when we decided to reevaluate this find. First, with the publication of the conjoining workshop material, we wanted to draw more attention to the whole assemblage and not just only to the depot. Second, the deliberate selection of the artefacts found in the jar has been suggested since the 1960s, which, in our opinion, can be tested by deep statistical analysis. Third, when Vértes applied parametric and non-parametric statistical analyses on knapped stone assemblages, he ventured into a brand new branch of archaeological investigation, not just in Hungary. Unfortunately, the pioneering attempts of Vértes were not followed for many decades. Our results suggest that the intact blades of the depot differed from each other significantly by their butt preparation because the pieces with dihedral butts are significantly wider than the others. On contrary, the length and the thickness of unbroken blades are homogenous, irrespective of preparation techniques. Concerning the different butt types across the whole assemblage, blades with plain butts are the most numerous in the depot and the workshops, but other, more thorough preparation occurred at a decreased rate in the workshops. At the same time, the different preparation types are evenly distributed in the four workshops, there are no significant differences between them.

Keywords: Neolithic, Bükk culture, lithics, statistics, structured deposition

Data availability statement: The author[s] confirm[s] that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article [and/or] its supplementary materials.

Disclosure statement: No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author.

Funding statement: The author received no financial support for the research and/or the publication of this article.

Copyright: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike International Public License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). You are free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and transform the material, under the following terms: You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may not use the material for commercial purposes. If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.

Creative Commons License

List of references

Apel, J. (2008). Knowledge, Know-How and Raw Material – The Production of Late Neolithic Flint Daggers in Scandinavia. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 15(1), 91–111.

Binford, L. R. & Binford, S. R. (1966). A preliminary analysis of functional variability in the Mousterian of Levallois facies. American Anthropologist, 68(2), 238–295.

Biró, K. T. (1987). Chipped stone industry of the Linearband Pottery culture in Hungary. In: Kozłowski, J. K., & Kozłowski, S. K. (eds.), Chipped Stone Industries of the early Farming Cultures in Europe. Warsaw University Press, Kraków, 131–167.

Biró, K. T. (1998). Lithic Implements and the Circulation of Raw Materials in the Great Hungarian Plain during the Late Neolithic Period. Hungarian National Museum, Budapest.

Biró, K. T. (2009). Egy sváb menyecske hozománya. Gondolatok a szegvár-tűzkövesi kőeszköz raktárlelet kapcsán. In: Bende L., & Lőrinczy G. (szerk.), Medinától Etéig. Tisztelgő írások Csalog József születésének 100. évfordulóján. Móra Ferenc Múzeum, Szentes, 103–116.

Clarke, D. L. (1968). Analytical archaeology. Methuen, London.

Dolukhanov, P. M., Kozlowski, J. K., & Kozlowski, S. K. (1989). Multivariate analysis of upper palaeolithic and mesolithic stone assemblages. Typology and ecology. Prace archeologiczne 30. Nakladem Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, Kraków.

Faragó, N. (2017). Differences in the selection of raw materials at the site of Polgár-Csőszhalom, northeast Hungary. Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology, 7, 85–115.

Faragó, N. (2020). Complex, household-based analysis of the stone tools of Polgár-Csőszhalom. Dissertationes Archaeologicae, 3(7), 301–329.

Fogelin, L. (2007). The Archaeology of Religious Ritual. Annual Review of Anthropology, 36, 55–71.

Füzesi, A., Faragó, N., & Raczky, P. (2017). Tiszaug-Railway-station. An archaic Middle Neolithic community on the Great Hungarian Plain. Dissertationes Archaeologicae Ser. 3, 5, 7–66.

Garrow, D. (2012). Odd deposits and average practice. A critical history of the concept of structured deposition. Archaeological Dialogues, 19, 85–115.

Gosden, C., & Malafouris, L. (2015). Process archaeology (P-Arch). World Archaeology, 47, 701–717.

Hammer, Ø., Harper, D.A.T., and Ryan, P. D. (2001). PAST: Paleontological Statistics Software Package for Education and Data Analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica, 4(1): 9.

Hodder, I. (1991). Interpretive Archaeology and Its Role. American Antiquity, 56, 7–18.

Hodson, F. R. (1969). Searching for structure within multivariate archaeological data. World Archaeology, 1(1), 90–105.

Kaczanowska, M. (1985). Rohstoffe, Technik und Typologie der neolithischen Feuersteinindustrien im Nordteil des Flussgebietes der Mitteldonau. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Nauokowe, Warszawa.

Kaczanowska, M., & Kozłowski, J. K. (2016). The evolution of chipped stone industries in the “Polgár island” from the Middle Neolithic to the Early Copper Age. Folia Quaternaria, 84 67–84.

Kaczanowska, M., Kozłowski, J. K., & Makkay J. (1981). Flint hoard from Endrőd, site 39 Hungary (Körös culture). Acta Archaeologica Carpathica, 21, 105–117.

Kaczanowska M., Kozłowski J. K., & Sümegi, P. (2016). Chipped and ground stone implements from Polgár 31. Folia Quaternaria, 84, 5–66.

Kalicz, N., & Makkay, J. (1977). Die Linienbandkeramik in der Grossen Ungarischen Tiefebene. Studia Archaeologica 7. Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest.

Kemenczei, T. (1964). Boldogkőváralja. Archaeologiai Értesítő, 91, 253.

Király, A. (2018). Digital Data and Holocene Lithic Industries in the Sudanese Nile Valley: a Case Study. In: Kabaciński, J., Chłodnicki, M., Kobusiewicz, M., & Winiarska-Kabacińska, M. (eds.), Desert and the Nile. Prehistory of the Nile Basin and the Sahara. Papers in honour of Fred Wendorf Studies in African Archaeology 15. Poznań Archaeological Museum, Poznań, 207–233.

Király, A., Faragó, N., & Mester, Zs. (2020). Hasznos rítusok és haszontalan technikák. A rituális cselekvés régészeti azonosításának néhány elméleti kérdése egy pattintott kő leletegyüttes kap-csán. In: Csengeri, P. et al. (szerk). ΜΩΜΟΣ IX. A rituálé régészete – Őskoros Kutatók IX. Összejövetelének konferenciakötete Miskolc, 2015. október 14–16. Dissertationes Archaeologicae Supplementum 7. ELTE BTK Régészettudományi Intézet, Budapest, 9–42.

Knutsson, H. (2001) Technology, mythology and the travels of the agriculture package in Europe. Documenta Praehistorica, 28, 117–132.

Leroi-Gourhan, A. (1964). Le geste et la parole tome I. Technique et langage. Albin Michel, Paris.

Leroi-Gourhan, A. (1965). Le geste et la parole tome II. La mémoire et les rythmes. Albin Michel, Paris.

Lemonnier, P. (1989). Bark capes, arrowheads and Concorde: on social representation of technology. In: Hodder, I. (ed.) The meanings of things. Material culture and Symbolic Expression. Routledge, London, 156–171.

Lengyel, Gy. (2018). Lithic analysis of the Middle and Late Upper Palaeolithic in Hungary. Folia Quaternaria, 86, 5–157.

Mester, Zs., & Faragó, N. (2016). Prehistoric exploitation of limnosilicites in Northern Hungary: Problems and perspectives. Archeologia Polona, 54, 33–50.

Mester, Zs., & Tixier, J. (2013). „Pot à lames”: The Neolithic blade depot from Boldogkőváralja (Northeast Hungary). In: Anders, A., & Kulcsár, G. (eds.), Moments in Time. Papers Presented to Pál Raczky on His 60th Birthday. Ősrégészeti Tanulmányok – Prehistoric Studies 1. Ősrégészeti Társaság – Eötvös Loránd University – L’Harmattan, Budapest, 173–185.

McNiven, I. J. (2013). Ritualized Middening Practices. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 20, 552-587.

Nagy, E. Gy., Kaczanowska, M., Kozłowski, J. K., Moskal-Del Hoyo, & Lityńska-Zając, M. (2014). Evolution and environment of the eastern Linear Pottery culture: a case study in the site of Polgár–Piócási-dűlő. Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 65, 217–284.

Pelegrin, J., Karlin, C., & Bodu, P. (1988). « Chaînes opératoires » : un outil pour le préhistorien. In: Tixier, J. (dir.), Journée d’études technologiques en Préhistoire. Notes et Monographies Techniques 25. Editions du CNRS, Paris, 55–62.

Renfrew, C., & Zubrow, E. (eds.) (1994). The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Richards, C. & Thomas, J. (1984). Ritual activity and structured deposition in Later Neolithic Wessex. In: Bradley, R., & Gardiner, J. (eds), Neolithic studies. A review of some current research. BAR Publishing, Oxford, 189–218.

Robb, J. E. (1998). The Archaeology of Symbols. Annual Review of Anthropology, 27, 329-346.

Scerri, E.M.L., Gravina, B., Blinkhorn, J., & Delagnes, A. (2016). Can Lithic Attribute Analyses Identify Discrete Reduction Trajectories? A Quantitative Study Using Refitted Lithic Sets. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 23, 669–691.

Schlanger, N. (1994). Mindful technology: unleashing the chaîne operatoire for an archaeology of mind. In: Renfrew, C., & Zubrow, E.B.W. (eds.), The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 143–151.

Siklósi, Zs. (2013). Traces of Social Inequality during the Late Neolithic in the Eastern Carpathian Basin. Dissertationes Pannonicae Ser. IV. Vol. 3. Eötvös Loránd University, Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Budapest.

Tálas, L. (ed.) (1987). The Late Neolithic of the Tisza region. Directorate of the Szolnok County Museums, Budapest-Szolnok.

Texier, P-J., & Meignen, L. (2012). Soixante années de technologie lithique : étapes marquantes, apports et écueils. In: Delpech, F., & Jaubert, J. (eds.), François Bordes et la préhistoire. Documents préhistoriques 29. Éditions du CTHS, Paris, 133–139.

Tixier, J. (2012). A method for the study of stone tools / Méthodes pour l’étude des outillages lithiques. ArchéoLogiques 4. Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art, Luxembourg.

van der Leeuw, S. E. (1994). Cognitive aspects of ‘technique’. In: Renfrew, C., & Zubrow, E.B.W. (eds.), The Ancient Mind: Elements of Cognitive Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 135–142.

Vértes, L. (1965). The depot of silex blades from Boldogkőváralja. A technological model of the manufacture of stone implements. Acta Archaeologica Academiae Scientiarium Hungaricae, 17, 129–136.