Article

A 400,000 years old milestone of the Acheulian technocomplex in Central-Western France at Londigny (Charente)

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

In this paper, we present the results of a technological analysis of an unpublished Acheulian assemblage from Western-Central France from a preventive excavation at Londigny (Charente). The lithic pieces were found in an archaeological layer preserved at the bottom of the infilling of two karstic depressions on the Jurassic plateau. A large series of handaxes found during gravel quarrying in the Charente river valley and sparse assemblages from karstic cavities south of the large meander formed by the Charente river are amongst the main discoveries dating to the Lower Palaeolithic in Charente. In the Poitou region, Londigny is the first open air Lower Palaeolithic industry TL dated to MIS 11 recovered in a stratigraphic context. Only a handful of sites date to this period in North-West Europe. Our study of this assemblage however allows us to describe in detail the lithic production that is characteristic of the Acheulian technocomplex. Despite of the unusual use of small Jurassic flint nodules, both bifacial shaping and flake production highlight a technical package shared by most of the Acheulian industries at that time from North-West Europe to South-West France. The Londigny site, located in a position between north and south, extends the geographical range of the Acheulian in France.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

... These flaking methods globally lead to small-and medium-sized flakes . Regarding the retouched tool component, most of the samples were denticulates and notches, which is common for MIS11 sites (Ashton 2016;Connet et al. 2020;Moncel et al. 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
In this manuscript, we present the first systematic refitting results of the small-scale Middle Pleistocene (MIS11) rock shelter site of La Cansaladeta. The lithic materials that have been recovered from the archaeological levels E and J were the main study materials. These levels were investigated regarding spatial pattern analysis and analyzed with auxiliary methods such as quantitative density mapping demonstration and technological analysis of the lithic clusters. Thus, the spatial patterns of the two levels were compared and discussed, in terms of connections, clusters, and movement of the lithic elements. Undoubtedly, the well preservation of the archaeological levels offered a great opportunity for the interpretation of the spatial patterns in a high-resolution perspective. La Cansaladeta has not been paid attention adequately so far may be due to the small dimension of the excavation surface or to the scarcity of faunal record. Our results show that small-scale sites without long-distance refit/conjoin connections can provide significant spatial information. Indeed, if the sites have very well-preserved archaeological levels, the absence of long connections can be supported by the auxiliary methods.
Article
During the mid-Middle Pleistocene MIS 14 to MIS 11, humans spread through Western Europe from the Mediterranean peninsulas to the sub-Arctic region, and they did so not only during the warm periods but also during the glacial stages. In doing so, they were exposed to harsh environmental conditions, including low or extremely low temperatures. Here we review the distribution of archeological assemblages in Western Europe from MIS 14 to MIS 11 and obtain estimates of the climatic conditions at those localities. Estimates of the mean annual temperature, mean winter and summer temperatures, and the lowest temperature of the coldest month for each locality were obtained from the Oscillayers database. Our results show that hominins endured cold exposure not only during the glacial stages but also during the interglacials, with winter temperatures below 0 C at many localities. The efficacy of the main physiological and behavioral adaptations that might have been used by the Middle Pleistocene hominins to cope with low temperatures is evaluated using a simple heat-loss model. Our results suggest that physiological and anatomical adaptations alone, such as increasing basal metabolic rate and subcu-taneous adipose tissue, were not enough to tolerate the low winter temperatures of Western Europe, even during the MIS 13 and MIS 11 interglacials. In contrast, the use of a simple fur bed cover appears to have been an extremely effective response to low temperatures. We suggest that advanced fire production and control technology were not necessary for the colonization of northern Europe during MIS 14 and MIS 12. We propose that Middle Pleistocene European populations were able to endure the low temperatures of those glacial stages combining anatomical and physiological adaptations with behavioral responses, such as the use of shelter and simple fur clothes.
Article
Full-text available
For the past decade, debates on the earliest evidence of bifacial shaping in Western Europe have focused on several key issues, such as its origin (i.e., local or introduced), or on what should define the Acheulean culture. Whatever hypotheses are proposed for its origin, the onset and technological strategies for making Large Cutting Tools (LCTs), including biface production, are key issues and are often associated with other behavioural changes, such as increased core technology complexity. Current archaeological patterns do not support the existence of transitional industries. Rather, the scant evidence suggests that biface production associated with the management of bifacial volume was widespread around 700 ka. Among the earliest sites, the site of Notarchirico in Southern Italy stands out as one of the most significant examples. ⁴⁰Ar/³⁹Ar ages and ESR dates recently provided a revised chronology for the whole sedimentary sequence and constrained the archaeological levels between ca. 610 and 670 ka. Five archaeosurfaces (A, A1, B, D and F) yielded LCTs, including bifaces, during Marcello Piperno’s excavations from 1980 to 1995. In light of this new chronological framework, which is much shorter than previously thought, we propose in this contribution a revision of the bifaces by applying the “chaine opératoire” method for the first time (analysis of reduction processes). Our goals are to assess biface production in this early Western European locality and to characterize the strategies applied at the site throughout the sequence. A corpus of 32 tools was selected from the A-A1, B, D and F archaeosurfaces. The technological analysis shows that hominins had the capacity to manage bifacial volumes, when raw material quality was adequate. Clear differences do not emerge between the different levels in terms of shaping modes or final forms. However, we demonstrate that the oldest level (level F), with the richest corpus, lacks flint and displays a higher diversity of bifaces. This ability to manage bifacial and bilateral equilibrium, as well as the diversity of the morphological results, is observed in a few penecontemporaneous sites (700–600 ka), both in the north-western and southern parts of Western Europe. These patterns suggest that hominins mastered well-controlled and diversified biface production, combining intense shaping and minimal shaping, and shared a common technological background regardless of the geographical area, and applied this technology regardless of the available raw materials. The degree of skill complexity of hominins in Western Europe between 700 and 600 ka, the current lack of evidence suggesting “gradual industries” between core-and-flake series and Acheulean techno-complexes, raise numerous questions on the origin of new behaviours in Western Europe, their mode of diffusion, and their association with Homo heidelbergensis or other Middle Pleistocene populations.
Article
Full-text available
the dispersal of hominin groups with an Acheulian technology and associated bifacial tools into northern latitudes is central to the debate over the timing of the oldest human occupation of europe. new evidence resulting from the rediscovery and the dating of the historic site of Moulin Quignon demonstrates that the first Acheulian occupation north of 50°N occurred around 670-650 ka ago. The new archaeological assemblage was discovered in a sequence of fluvial sands and gravels overlying the chalk bedrock at a relative height of 40 m above the present-day maximal incision of the Somme River and dated by ESR on quartz to early MIS 16. More than 260 flint artefacts were recovered, including large flakes, cores and five bifaces. This discovery pushes back the age of the oldest Acheulian occupation of northwestern Europe by more than 100 ka and bridges the gap between the archaeological records of northern france and england. it also challenges hominin dispersal models in europe showing that hominins using bifacial technology, such as Homo heidelbergensis, were probably able to overcome cold climate conditions as early as 670-650 ka ago and reasserts the importance of the Somme valley, where Prehistory was born at the end of the 19 th century.
Thesis
Full-text available
La variabilité des assemblages du Paléolithique inférieur dans l'ouest de l'Europe nourrit les débats actuels quant à leur relation avec les flux de populations, dans le contexte des changements environnementaux et paléogéographiques. Le faciès technique du Colombanien, localisé sur la façade atlantique bretonne, illustre cette variabilité. Selon la littérature, il diffère de l'Acheuléen, dominant dans les régions voisines, notamment par l'absence de bifaces. L'industrie du site de Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère) en constitue l'exemple dont le contexte géologique et paléoclimatique est le mieux documenté. Ce site a livré des traces de foyer qui sont parmi les plus anciennes d'Europe, ainsi qu'un abondant matériel, qui, dans les niveaux supérieurs, offre les prémices de la transition du Paléolithique inférieur vers le Paléolithique moyen. L'analyse des caractères techniques et typologiques des assemblages lithiques issus des couches 9 à 4 permettra de retracer l'évolution des stratégies d'approvisionnement et des comportements techniques et de replacer ce site dans le contexte régional et européen. La contemporanéité d’assemblages sans pièces bifaciales et à pièces bifaciales est attestée en Europe dès 700 ka. Si la plupart des sites européens présentent des assemblages à pièces bifaciales, les gisements à niveaux sans bifaces sont également assez nombreux. L’interstratification des niveaux à et sans pièces bifaciales sur certains sites est parfois interprétée comme le témoignage d’occupations liées à des activités spécialisées différentes, des matières premières différentes, ou des groupes humains aux traditions culturelles ou techniques différentes. De récentes publications de synthèse font état de la question : l’hypothèse de la coexistence de groupes humains aux traditions techniques différentes y est discutée, sur la base de modalités de débitage communes et d’utilisations similaires des territoires. Ainsi, seule la présence ou l’absence de bifaces tend à différencier ces occupations. Le travail engagé ici s’inscrit dans la lignée des études antérieures, mais a été entrepris dans le but de définir les systèmes techniques mis en œuvre au Paléolithique ancien dans l’ouest armoricain. Il permet ainsi de présenter des données nouvelles afin de caractériser les industries lithiques des sites dits « colombaniens ». Il ressort de notre étude que si le contexte paléogéographique et géologique ainsi que le type de gisement explique une certaine variabilité dans la composition des assemblages, cela n’explique pas les traditions techniques, et notamment la présence ou l’absence de pièces bifaciales ou de large cutting tools (LCTs). Si le type d’activité peut alors être mis en cause pour expliquer cette variabilité, une fréquentation répétée sur un même site, dans un contexte paléoenvironnemental globalement similaire, comme c’est le cas à Menez Dregan I indiquerait une visite régulière de groupes humains aux traditions techniques différentes, comme cela est aussi le cas sur d’autres gisements. Nous aboutissons ainsi à une révision du faciès Colombanien, qui s’avère être une variante régionale de l’Acheuléen. Ces résultats confrontés aux données paléoclimatiques et paléogéographiques contribuent à mieux comprendre la dynamique de peuplement de ce Finistère eurasiatique au Pléistocène moyen.
Article
Full-text available
We present here the results of a technological and typological analysis of the Acheulian and early Middle Paleolithic assemblages from Torre in Pietra (Latium, Italy) together with comparisons with the Acheulian small tools of Castel di Guido. The assemblages were never chronometrically dated before. We have now Ar/ Ar dates and ESR-U-series dates, within a geomorphological framework, which support correlations to marine isotope stages. The Acheulian (previously correlated to MIS 9) is now dated to MIS 10 while the Middle Paleolithic is dated to MIS 7. Lithic analyses are preceded by taphonomic evaluations. The Levallois method of the Middle Paleolithic assemblage is an innovation characterized by the production of thin flake blanks without cortex. In contrast, the small tool blanks of the Acheulian were either pebbles or thick flakes with some cortex. They provided a relatively easy manual prehension. The choice of Levallois thin flake blanks in the Middle Paleolithic assemblage suggest that the new technology is most likely related to the emergence of hafting. Accordingly, the oldest direct evidence of hafting technology is from the site of Campitello Quarry in Tuscany (Central Italy) where birch-bark tar, found on the proximal part of two flint flakes, is dated to the end of MIS 7. Nevertheless, a peculiar feature of the Middle Paleolithic at Torre in Pietra is the continuous presence of small tool blanks on pebbles and cores and on thick flake albeit at a much lower frequency than in the older Acheulian industries. The adoption of the new technology is thus characterized by innovation combined with a degree of stability. The persistence of these habits in spite of the introduction of an innovative technique underlies the importance of cultural transmission and conformity in the behavior of Neandertals.
Article
Full-text available
Assemblages with bifacial tools cover large areas of the Eurasian continent from the Middle Pleistocene to the Upper Pleistocene. These encompass varied technological strategies although the morphological results are often similar. Consequently, bifacial technology is diversified in Eurasia and cannot be correlated to “Acheulean-type behaviour” everywhere, or for all time periods. While early lithic assemblages with bifacial technology appeared in Africa as early as 1.8 Ma, this technology is observed in Eurasia from 1.5 Ma for the earliest evidence, and particularly from 1 Ma onwards. Our purpose here is to focus on Eurasian patterns. This presentation will be divided into three parts in order to describe, clarify and compare the bifacial phenomenon regarding its chronological and geographical extension, based on examples of key sites in diverse Eurasian areas. This first paper presents a review of detailed data from western and southern Europe and the Levant. The second focuses on the East, India, south-eastern Asia and eastern Asia (China). The third and final paper is a comparative analysis of Eurasian areas with occurrences of bifacial technology in relation to paleoanthropological remains in order to clarify the diversity of the bifacial technological phenomenon over time and space. Major European and Levantine sites are described in this first paper. For Europe, the bifacial component is divided into two main currents; before and after the major glacial event of MIS 12. Before MIS 12, sites such as la Noira, Notarchirico, Caune de l’Arago, Galeria II, Cagny-la-Garenne I-II or Boxgrove are taken into consideration. After MIS 12, sites are more numerous and have been widely reviewed (for instance Terra Amata, Guado San Nicolas, Cagny l’Epinette, Soucy…). For the Levant, sites such as Ubeidiya, GBY, Nadaouiyeh and El Meirah are presented. Data from the Arabian Peninsula are also taken into account.
Article
Full-text available
New Palaeolithic sites are rare for MIS 11 to 9 in Eurasia. The discovery and the excavation of a large new site in 2012 at Etricourt-Manancourt (Somme, France) is an exceptional event. In 2010, a Palaeolithic evaluation was undertaken at a future retention basin by Emilie Goval on 170,000 square metres. The evaluation produced many flint artefacts, demonstrating the existence of at least two important Middle Palaeolithic sites. In 2012, an excavation on one of the sites was conducted by David Hérisson over 6 months and covering 4500 square metres. This excavation was undertaken by a multidisciplinary scientific team, including prehistorians and geomorphologists. This allows us to apply a reliable chronostratigraphic approach based on the analysis of the Glacial-interglacial successions. Five in situ Palaeolithic occupations have been excavated, dating from 330 to 70 ka. The youngest occupation dates from 70 to 80 ka (Weichselian) and corresponds to a recent phase of the Middle Palaeolithic. The next two layers belong to the Early Middle Palaeolithic, between 190 and 240 ka (Saalian). Finally, the two oldest layers have dates between 330 and 280 ka (Saalian) and belong to the Lower Palaeolithic. In addition to the archaeology, the sedimentary sequence is very thick (11 m high) and presents for the first time in Northern France a detailed record of the three last interglacial-glacial cycles. This paper presents the first archaeological and chronostratigraphic results of the excavation of Etricourt-Manancourt and its input with high resolution data to discuss behavioural changes occurring at the end of the Lower Palaeolithic and the onset of the Middle Palaeolithic.
Article
Full-text available
La Cansaladeta is a site located in a narrow passage dug out by the Francolí River in the Pre-littoral Catalan range (NE Iberia). The archaeological deposit lies on top of a+45-50m fluvial terrace, and contains a rich Middle Pleistocene stratigraphic succession in which 10 archaeological layers have been identified.Here, we present the description of the sedimentary succession of the site, the available chronological framework (including TL, TT-OSL, and ESR/U series ages, as well as biostratigraphical information), the characteristics of the lithotechnical and faunal assemblages, as well as the first interpretation of the human occupations at the site.Three main occupation phases have been differentiated. The oldest archaeological layers are embedded in a palaeosol formed on a clayey layer that contains limestone fragments detached from the shelter's wall and roof. During the second phase, low energy fluvial sediments coming from lateral river floods were deposited and sealed the archaeological layers. After a transitional phase, the upper layers appear to be derived from slope sediments. Numerical dating yielded internally consistent dates of 380-400 ka for the sequence. However, the study of the fossil assemblages potentially suggest a tentative early Middle Pleistocene age for the lowermost horizons.The rich technological record is made up of several local raw materials, especially chert but also schist, quartzite, quartz and other minor rocks. Knapping sequences seem to be autochthonous, as all the elements and size-categories of the reduction sequence are present, and refits are common. Techno-typological features observed along the sequence are not very diagnostic, however the lower layers include some Acheulean forms among the large shaped tools, restricted variability among the small retouched tools (mostly denticulates) and a virtually absence of prepared cores. The faunal assemblage is scarce and appears strongly altered. Only the lower layers have provided fruitful information. Although neither combustion areas nor structures related to fire-use have been documented to date, heat damage has been repeatedly recorded on both lithic and faunal remains. This may point to systematic fire use within the archaeological sequence.The data provided by the ongoing excavations at La Cansaladeta provide new insight into the early human settlement history of northeast Iberia to be reconstructed. Combining these data with those coming from the close site of Barranc de la Boella, enable us to better reconstruct the timing, nature and context of early human occupation in the region.
Article
Full-text available
Menez-Dregan I is a Lower Palaeolithic site, situated at Plouhinec, Finistère, in Brittany. It is an ancient marine cave whose roof has gradually collapsed. Layer 4 from the site of Menez-Dregan I is the last occupation of this deposit, at a turning point between the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. Geological correlations (Laforge & Monnier, 2011; Monnier & Hallegouët, 2003) tend to place layer 4 in OIS 9 or 11, although no direct dating is yet available for this layer. This study focuses on the lithic industry from the 1991-2004 excavations and was undertaken in order to capture the various types of technical behaviour that could translate this transition. We present the lithic industry of this layer, which simultaneously combines ’archaic’ characteristics, such as large quantities of pebbles, or the appearance of opportunistic knapping, and the emergence of characteristics that refer to the Middle Palaeolithic, such as standardisation of flake production, or adapting knapping methods to the dimensions of the raw materials (discoid knapping for quartzite, knapping on an anvil for small flint pebbles). The whole industry from layer 4 and its three levels (4a, 4b and 4c) — 13,212 artefacts — has been studied. The lithic industry includes flakes (33.1 %), flake fragments (28.4 %), debris (21 %), retouched flake tools (7 %), cores (4.3 %), pebble tools (3.2 %), pebble fragments (1.7 %); 1.3 % are miscellaneous pieces. The raw materials used in layer 4 are flint (71 %), quartz (13 %), sandstone (10 %), microgranite (5 %), quartzite (0.8 %) and glossy sandstone (0.5 %) and were selected on the ancient beaches in or near the deposit. Retouched flake tools are mostly denticulates (68.2 %), scrapers (19.7 %) and notches (12.1 %). A paving structure has been revealed in layer 4 (level 4b) as highlighted by S. Hinguant during the 2000 excavation campaign and is presented in this article. This is an important element, as we have little information about Lower Palaeolithic settlements. Evidence of the use of fire has been provided by the presence of 28 artefacts with thermal alterations, although no hearth was noted during the excavation. Layer 4 of the Menez-Dregan I site has been attributed to the ’Colombanian’ by J.-L. Monnier (Monnier, 1996) due to the composition of the lithic industry: predominance of pebble tools within a heavy tool assemblage associated with retouched tools on flake-supports (notches, denticulates), and by the ’Clactonian’ aspect of the knapping (wide slightly faceted butts, strong bulbs, wide open flaking angles). The Levallois method is absent, bifaces are absent or extremely rare, there are few scrapers. The Colombanian proves to be a facies of the Lower Palaeolithic, contemporary with the Acheulean but typologically distinct. However, standardisation of flake production leads us to foresee a change in the lithic industry of layer 4, and allows us to highlight a transition period from the Lower Palaeolithic to the Middle Palaeolithic in the later occupation of this deposit. This study is a contribution to the documentation of the diversity and variability of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic lithic industries, demonstrating that the usual criteria of allocation to a facies do not apply equally to every site. We agree with G. F. Monnier when she indicates that “bifaces are probably simply a basic component of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic toolkits throughout much of the world and as such carry a limited amount of cultural and temporal information” (Monnier 2006, p. 710), and so do not permit to distinguish the Lower from the Middle Palaeolithic. P. Villa indicates that “(…) bifaces are a generalised tool class and, as such, they cannot be used as cultural indicators any more than table forks, the use of tobacco, the bow and arrow, the plough, the throwing stick, the Levallois technique or the making of pottery.” “The bifaces were simply a component, an element of the Middle Pleistocene tool-making repertory; they are a time marker, not a cultural marker.” (Villa, 1983, p. 11-12). This leads us to the same question regarding the Levallois technology, some authors saying that the Middle Palaeolithic is characterised by the presence of the Levallois method, whereas it is present since OIS 12 (Cagny-la-Garenne). The use of ’index fossils’ is questioned here, as we rapidly evoke the lithic industry of some Lower Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic, Colombanian or Acheulean sites (La Ville-Mein, Planguenoual, Côtes d’Armor; Cagny-l’Épinette and Cagny-la-Garenne, Somme; UA 25 of Le Lazaret, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes; Ranville, Calvados; Raspide 2, Blagnac, Haute-Garonne; Saint-Hélen, Côtes d’Armor; Guengat, Finistère). Le site de Menez-Dregan I est un gisement du Paléolithique inférieur qui se présente sous la forme d’une ancienne grotte marine dont le toit s’est progressivement effondré. La couche 4 correspond à l’ultime occupation de ce gisement et se situe à une période charnière entre Paléolithique inférieur et moyen. Cette étude porte sur l’ensemble lithique issu des campagnes de fouilles 1991 à 2004 et a été entreprise dans le but de saisir les divers comportements techniques qui pourraient traduire cette transition. Il s’agit ici de présenter l’industrie lithique de cette couche, qui associe à la fois des caractères archaïques, comme les galets aménagés en grande quantité ou l’aspect opportuniste du débitage, et l’émergence de caractères du Paléolithique moyen, comme la standardisation de la production d’éclats ou l’adaptation des méthodes de débitage selon les dimensions des galets de matière première (débitage Discoïde pour le quartzite, débitage sur enclume pour les rognons de silex de petite taille). Les 13 212 pièces de la couche 4 et de ses trois niveaux (4a, 4b et 4c) ont été étudiées et sont présentées ici, ainsi qu’une structure de pavement, mise en évidence lors de la campagne de fouille de 2000 par S. Hinguant. La couche 4 de Menez-Dregan I a été attribuée au Colombanien par J.-L. Monnier (Monnier, 1996), en raison de la composition de son industrie lithique : outils à tranchant aménagé sur galets associés à un outillage léger, sur éclats de petites dimensions (encoches, denticulés), et par le caractère clactonien du débitage (larges talons peu facettés, bulbes forts, angles d’éclatement très ouverts). Le débitage Levallois est inexistant, les bifaces sont absents ou extrêmement rares, les racloirs sont peu nombreux. Le Colombanien s’avère être un faciès du Paléolithique inférieur, contemporain de l’Acheuléen mais typologiquement distinct. Cependant, la standardisation de la production d’éclats nous amène à entrevoir un changement dans l’industrie lithique de la couche 4 et nous permet de mettre en évidence une période de transition du Paléolithique inférieur au Paléolithique moyen au sein de cette dernière occupation du gisement. Cette étude contribue à documenter la variabilité et la diversité des industries lithiques des Paléolithiques inférieur et moyen, en démontrant que les critères habituels d’attribution à un faciès ne s’appliquent pas de la même manière à tous les gisements. L’utilisation des « fossiles directeurs » sera également remise en question, à la suite d’une rapide évocation de l’industrie de quelques sites du Paléolithique inférieur – colombaniens, acheuléens – ou du Paléolithique moyen.
Article
Full-text available
This paper represents a synthetic overview of the main results of the CNRS Programme "Palaeoenvironments and Hominids". This project focused on the study of interactions between human occupation and environmental modification, between 500 and 10 kyrs BP, based on multidisciplinary and diachronic studies of key sites in the Somme Basin. The main analytic results concern ESR, TL-IRSL and 14C dates, which reinforce the chronostratigraphical interpretation of the various Palaeolithic sites. At the same time, bioclimatic analyses of fluvial sediments (palynology, malacology, analysis of Coleoptera), combined with the measurement of δ13C variations of organic carbon, and of the low-field magnetic susceptibility in loess and fossil soils, allowed the restitution of the various Pleistocene environments, and especially of the full Interglacials, to be refined. The main conclusions of the synthesis of archaeological, chronostratigraphical and environmental data are the following. 1) The earliest human occupations in the Somme Basin are no older than 500-450 kyrs BP and are straight away represented by well evolved Acheulean industries (beginning of MIS 12, according to the data from modern excavations). 2) During the last climatic cycle, human occupation of the Somme Basin was clearly discontinuous and strongly influenced by climatic and environmental modifications: maximum during the Early-Glacial, some occupations during the Lower and Middle Maximum Glaciations, rare occurrences around 23-24 kyrs (14C), total abandonment of the area between 23 and 13 kyrs, then reoccupation with the beginning of the Lateglacial climatic improvement. 3) Although the data are less numerous, the model of the last climatic cycle seems to apply during the Middle Pleistocene for the end of the Saalian (occupation at the end of MIS 7 or at the transition MIS7/MIS6, and desertion of the area during the cold maximum of MIS 6). 4) Finally, between 500/450 and 200 kyrs human settlements mainly occurred during periods of climatic transition (Early or Lateglacial). From a general point of view, the human occupation of the Somme Basin during the Middle Pleistocene was therefore discontinuous and strongly influenced by climatic and environmental factors.
Article
Full-text available
Europe LUCAS survey Multivariate Additive Regression Splines Bulk density Available Water Capacity USDA texture classes The Land Use and Cover Area frame Statistical survey (LUCAS) aimed at the collecting harmonised data about the state of land use/cover over the extent of European Union (EU). Among these 2 · 10 5 land use/cover observations selected for validation, a topsoil survey was conducted at about 10% of these sites. Topsoil sampling locations were selected as to be representative of European landscape using a Latin hypercube stratified random sampling, taking into account CORINE land cover 2000, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) DEM and its derived slope, aspect and curvature. In this study we will discuss how the LUCAS topsoil database can be used to map soil properties at continental scale over the geographical extent of Europe. Several soil properties were predicted using hybrid approaches like regression kriging. In this paper we describe the prediction of topsoil texture and related derived physical properties. Regression models were fitted using, along other variables, remotely sensed data coming from the MODIS sensor. The high temporal resolution of MODIS allowed detecting changes in the vegetative response due to soil properties, which can then be used to map soil features distribution. We will also discuss the prediction of intrinsically collinear variables like soil texture which required the use of models capable of dealing with multivariate constrained dependent variables like Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS). Cross validation of the fitted models proved that the LUCAS dataset constitutes a good sample for mapping purposes leading to cross-validation R 2 between 0.47 and 0.50 for soil texture and normalized errors between 4 and 10%.
Article
Full-text available
Resume Les gisements de l'Epinette et de la Ferme de l'Epinette a Cagny (Somme) sont deux gisements acheuleens de la region d'Amiens a Cagny (Somme) ou la presence de remontages d'eclats sur nucleus et sur bifaces dans de nombreuses series nous permettent de mieux apprehender les methodes de faconnage bifacial et de debitage au Paleolithique inferieur, plus particulierement dans l'Acheuleen. Les bifaces sont surtout faconnes selon une methode successive, les nucleus sont en majorite debites sur une seule surface de debitage selon une methode unipolaire a partir d'un plan de frappe prepare. En plus des confirmations typologiques et technologiques diverses des methodes de faconnage ou de debitage rencontrees, certains remontages quasi complets nous permettent d'envisager les chaines operatoires entieres relatives aux differentes methodes de debitage et de faconnage, le tout illustre par la reconstitution des dimensions, formes, etat physique et test des rognons de silex de depart.
Article
Full-text available
Cet article analyse les qualités des matières premières employées dans deux gisements (Gran Dolina et Galería) de la Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Espagne) pendant le Pléistocène inférieur et moyen, et son influence sur le processus de la taille. Ces sites archéologiques ont une séquence chronologique qui nous permet d́étudier ĺévolution de la technologie lithique à une échelle locale pendant 1,2 Ma. La combinaison d’analyses techniques des assemblages lithiques avec ĺarchéologie expérimentale constitue une excellente méthode d’étude pour comprendre et pour interpréter les qualités des matières premières et leur relation avec le développement des gestes, méthodes et techniques.
Article
Full-text available
Résumé: Une opération d'archéologie préventive a permis de fouiller sur une superficie de plusieurs milliers de m² une séquence limoneuse et le remplissage sablo-limoneux d'une doline. La corrélation de la séquence stratigraphique de Gentelles avec la séquence de référence de Cagny et la détermination des restes osseux permettent d'attribuer les uni-tés sédimentaires aux derniers cycles interglaciaire-glaciaire du Pléistocène moyen et au Pléistocène supérieur (stades isotopiques 10 à 5). Les séries lithiques du remplissage de la Grande Doline, d'un âge correspondant aux stades isoto-piques 10 à 8, appartiennent à des industries acheuléennes. Leurs caractéristiques sont les suivantes: bifaces aux for-mes variées mais ayant gardé d'importantes réserves corticales, débitage majoritairement unipolaire ou bipolaire d'é-clats à partir de nucleus à une ou deux surfaces de débitage, outillage sur éclat dominé par les encoches et les denticu-lés. Des silex taillés sont présents dans de nombreuses unités stratigraphiques de la séquence limoneuse. Le débitage n'est jamais Levallois. La plupart des nucleus n'ont qu'une ou deux surfaces de débitage avec une préparation unipo-laire ou bipolaire. Les outils sur éclat sont très rares. Les bifaces et les pièces bifaciales sont abondants. Certaines piè-ces sont de facture micoquienne. Mots-clés: Paléolithique inférieur et moyen, Acheuléen, Micoquien, bifaces, Somme. Palaeolithic industries with numerous bifaces at Mont-de-l'Evangile, Gentelles (Somme). Abstract: A loamy cover and the infilling of a dolina have been excavated on a surface of several thousands m² during a rescue excavation. Because of the correlation with the well-known sequence of Cagny and the age of the large mam-mals, the stratigraphy of Gentelles is dated in the Late Middle Pleistocene and in the Upper Pleistocene (O.I.S. 10 to 5). The flint artefacts of the dolina belong to acheulean industries whose characteristics are the following: unipolar debi-tage or core with one or two debitage surfaces, numerous handaxes, notches and denticulates are well represented. The Levallois debitage is not present in the assemblages of the loamy cover but there are some Micoquian pieces. d'Ascq cedex. 2 Musée départemental de Préhistoire et ESA 8018 du CNRS, 126 rue d'Amiens, F-62018 Arras cedex. 3 AFAN, antenne Nord Pas-de-Calais Picardie, 518, rue Saint-Fuscien, F-80000 Amiens.
Article
Full-text available
Apres un siecle de definitions, le Clactonien reste obscur et incompris : industrie a eclats ou a chopping-tools ? Les analyses technologiques du Paleolithique ancien et moyen tendent actuellement vers une approche systemique des chaines operatoires. Les industries dites clactoniennes seront etudiees dans cette optique, leur place dans la variabilite des methodes de debitage anterieures au Levallois sera discutee.
Article
Full-text available
Deux cadres chronostratigraphiques, l'un base sur des donnees morphostratigraphiques, l'autre sur des donnees biostratigraphiques, ainsi que des correlations entre les deux systemes sont proposes. Les donnees paleoenvironnementales actuellement disponibles sont fragmentaires et concernent presque exclusivement l'avant-dernier episode glaciaire. Il est fait etat pour cette periode des connaissances sur les modalites d'exploitation du milieu animal. L'economie de la matiere premiere montre l'emergence d'une anticipation des besoins dans les activites de subsistance. L'analyse technologique des industries lithiques permet d'individualiser plusieurs ensembles dans lesquels le faconnage des bifaces et le debitage sont les deux plus importants facteurs de variabilite. Un Acheuleen proche de celui de la France septentrionale est present aux cotes d'industries regroupees sous le terme d'Acheuleen meridional. Des assemblages du Paleolithique moyen caracterises par une importante variabilite apparaissent des le milieu du complexe rissien.
Article
Full-text available
The thick Quaternary deposits of the Caune de l’Arago (Pyrénées-Orientales, France) are dated to between 690 000 and 90 000 years old. At least fifteen different archeostratigraphical units have been identified within these deposits, each corresponding to distinct prehistoric occupations. Numerous stone tools made from several different rock types, have been discovered in each unit. The tools present specific characteristics concerning the choice of raw materials, the typology, and the technology used to produce them. Morpho-technological study of the different components of the assemblage contributes to a better understanding of the debitage methods used for their production. Each raw material is considered individually in order to ascertain its origin in the environment, its typological role and the technology applied during its exploitation. Defining production systems leads to the characterisation of the assemblages from each unit. When compared, they reveal common elements, as well as differences, suggesting evolutionary trends. Some observations are also made concerning the extent to which changing uses of the site may have influenced the general morphology of each assemblage, therefore taking into account exterior factors. Analysis of this rich stone tool assemblage helps to situate the Caune de l’Arago industry within the larger evolutionary context of the Lower Paleolithic in Mediterranean Europe.
Article
Full-text available
Cet article constitue une présentation synthétique des principaux résultats du programme CNRS "Paléoenvironnement et Hominidés", consacré à l'étude des interactions entre le peuplement humain et l'évolution de l'environnement, entre 500 et 10 ka, par l'approche multidisciplinaire et diachronique des gisements clefs du bassin de la Somme. Les principaux résultats analytiques concernent les datations: ESR, TL-IRSL et 14C, qui renforcent le calage chronostratigraphique des différents gisements paléolithiques. Parallèlement les analyses bioclimatiques menées sur les sédiments fluviatiles (palynologie, malacologie, coléoptères), ou la mesure des variations du †13C du carbone organique et de la susceptibilité magnétique des loess et des paléosols ont permis d'affiner la restitution des différents paléoenvironnements pléistocènes, notamment interglaciaires. Les conclusions principales de la synthèse des données archéologiques, chronostratigraphiques et environnementales sont les suivantes: 1) Les premières occupations dans le bassin de la Somme remontent au maximum à environ 500-450 ka et sont d'emblée représentées par des industries acheuléennes déjà évoluées (début du stade 12, d'après les données des fouilles modernes). 2) Au cours du dernier cycle climatique l'occupation du bassin de la Somme et nettement discontinue et influencée par les modifications climatiques et environnementales: maximum de vestiges au cours du début-Glaciaire, quelques occupations pendant les Pléniglaciaires inférieurs et moyens, rares incursions vers 23-24 ka 14C, abandon total de la région entre 23 et 13 ka BP, puis recolonisation au début de l'amélioration climatique du Tardiglaciaire. 3) Bien que les données soient moins nombreuses, au cours du Pléistocène moyen le modèle du dernier cycle semble aussi valable pour la fin du Saalien (occupations humaines lors du la fin du stade 7 ou de transition 7/6 et abandon de la région lors du maximum de froid du stade 6). 4) Pour la période 500/450-200 ka les sites se localisent préférentiellement lors des périodes de transition climatique (début-Glaciaire ou tardiglaciaires). D'une manière générale, le peuplement du bassin de la Somme semble donc s'être effectué d'une manière nettement discontinue et avoir été fortement influencé par les conditions climatiques et enviornnementales. This paper represents a synthetic overview of the main results of the CNRS Programme "Palaeoenvironments and Hominids". This project focused on the study of interactions between human occupation and environmental modification, between 500 and 10 kyrs BP, based on multidisciplinary and diachronic studies of key sites in the Somme Basin. The main analytic results concern ESR, TL-IRSL and 14C dates, which reinforce the chronostratigraphical interpretation of the various Palaeolithic sites. At the same time, bioclimatic analyses of fluvial sediments (palynology, malacology, analysis of Coleoptera), combined with the measurement of δ13C variations of organic carbon, and of the low-field magnetic susceptibility in loess and fossil soils, allowed the restitution of the various Pleistocene environments, and especially of the full Interglacials, to be refined. The main conclusions of the synthesis of archaeological, chronostratigraphical and environmental data are the following. 1) The earliest human occupations in the Somme Basin are no older than 500-450 kyrs BP and are straight away represented by well evolved Acheulean industries (beginning of MIS 12, according to the data from modern excavations). 2) During the last climatic cycle, human occupation of the Somme Basin was clearly discontinuous and strongly influenced by climatic and environmental modifications: maximum during the Early-Glacial, some occupations during the Lower and Middle Maximum Glaciations, rare occurrences around 23-24 kyrs (14C), total abandonment of the area between 23 and 13 kyrs, then reoccupation with the beginning of the Lateglacial climatic improvement. 3) Although the data are less numerous, the model of the last climatic cycle seems to apply during the Middle Pleistocene for the end of the Saalian (occupation at the end of MIS 7 or at the transition MIS7/MIS6, and desertion of the area during the cold maximum of MIS 6). 4) Finally, between 500/450 and 200 kyrs human settlements mainly occurred during periods of climatic transition (Early or Lateglacial). From a general point of view, the human occupation of the Somme Basin during the Middle Pleistocene was therefore discontinuous and strongly influenced by climatic and environmental factors.
Article
Full-text available
Preliminary results of the first three years of programmed excavation on " La Grande Vallée " at Colombiers in Vienne are presented in this paper. The study of the stratigraphic sequence investigated on three meters deep highlighted the presence of five archaeological levels attributable to Lower Palaeolithic. Archaeological and pedostratigraphic results as well as thermoluminescence on burnt flint converge on an age for lithic industries between 400 and 500 ky. Although deprived of faunal elements, the high wealth of the site is indisputable and gives a new perspective on the knowledge of the settlements in the center-westerner zone of France during this period. Lithic assemblages show a large typological variety with morpho-functional concepts of relatively stabilized tools, as well as specialized and repeated " chaînes opératoires ". Links between the industries of Poitou and those of northern and southern regions indicate the high capacity of accomodation of Acheulean groups to important variations in the presentation and the nature of lithic raw materials.
Article
Full-text available
The Pleistocene history of river systems that enter the English Channel from northern France and southern England is reviewed. During periods of low sea-level (cold stages) these streams were tributaries of the Channel River. In southern England the largest, the River Solent, is an axial stream that has drained the Hampshire Basin from the Early Pleistocene or late Pliocene. Other streams of southern England may be of similar antiquity but their records are generally short and their sedimentary history have been destroyed, as in northern Brittany, by coastal erosion and valley deepening as a consequence of tectonic uplift. In northern France, the Seine and Somme rivers have very well developed terrace systems recording incision that began at around 1 Ma. The uplift rate, deduced from the study of these terrace systems, is of 55 to 60 m myr−1 since the end of the Early Pleistocene. Generally the facies and sedimentary structures indicate that the bulk of the deposits in these rivers accumulated in braided river environments under periglacial climates in all the area around the Channel. Evolution of the rivers reflects their responses to climatic change, local geological structure and long-term tectonic activity. In this context the Middle Somme valley is characterised by a regular pattern in which incision occurs at the beginning of each glacial period within a general background of uplift. Nevertheless the response of the different rivers to climatic variations, uplift and sea-level changes is complex and variable according to the different parts of the river courses. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Article
Stratigraphic Unit D levels of the Caune de l'Arago (Pyrénées-Orientales, France), situated in the upper part of the depositional sequence of Ensemble Stratigraphique III (ES III), has yielded a rich Acheulian archeopaleontological record dated to the Middle Pleistocene. The site's infill, dated from 690 to 90 ka, encloses a thick cultural sequence comprising some of the oldest evidence of Acheulian documented so far in Western Europe (Unit P levels). The deposits contain successive occupation layers with abundant faunal remains, stone artifacts, and sometimes hominin remains attributed to Homo erectus tautavelensis. The Unit D levels are chronostratigraphically positioned at the top of the ES III sequence, accumulated at the end of Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 12. The Unit D lithic assemblage shows no evidence of Levallois knapping strategies. Rather, its features indicate a trend towards microproduction that continues into subsequent occupational phases, apparently marking a local expression of the transition from the Lower to the Middle Paleolithic. Remarkably, tiny discoid and multidirectional type cores, predominantly knapped from small-sized quartz pebbles, characterize the Unit D lithic assemblage. Experimental work presented here demonstrates the likelihood that, despite the small size of the cores and the recalcitrant crystalline materials from which they were knapped, flake production can be carried out with free-hand hard hammer techniques. We explore behavioral aspects gleaned from Unit D cultural material, contrasting them with microlithic praxis observed elsewhere in Europe and the Near East in a similar timeframe.
Thesis
Les modèles de diffusion de l’Homme hors d’Afrique considèrent que les premiers groupes humains ont peuplé l’Europe selon deux vagues correspondant chacune à une culture technique différente. Les premiers peuplements, qui remontent au million d’années et se caractérisent par des productions d’éclats, associées à des outils sur galets. La deuxième vague serait porteuse de l’Acheuléen, puisque les premières industries comprenant des bifaces en Europe sont datées à 0,6 millions d’années.Or, les données présentes en Europe centrale ont bien du mal à entrer dans ce cadre théorique. Pourtant sur le chemin des premiers peuplements hors d’Afrique, cette région n’a pas livré les données archéologiques auxquelles ont aurait pu s’attendre. Les premiers indices d’occupation humaine antérieurs à 0,5 Ma sont rarissimes, les bifaces sont absents durant toute la durée du paléolithique inférieur et les industries présentes sont originales. L’Europe centrale est-elle une aire culturelle spécifique au Paléolithique inférieur ? Ou est ce que ce sont nos propres outils méthodologiques qui doivent être interrogés pour répondre à cet apparent paradoxe ?C’est à travers l’étude de l’industrie lithique de quatre sites que nous avons tenté de répondre à ces questions. Le deux premiers assemblages (Korolevo VI en Ukraine et Kärlich-Seeufer en Allemagne) sont datés aux environs de 0,5 Ma et ont livré une industrie basée sur la production d’éclats variés. Les deux autres collections, datées autour de 0,4 - 0,3 Ma (Vértesszölös en Hongrie et Bilzingsleben en Allemagne) se caractérisent au contraire par une industrie basée sur la confection de petits supports sélectionnés.Les résultats de l’étude des premières industries en Europe centrale, nous invitent donc à reconsidérer la question du peuplement de l’Europe et à nous interroger sur les critères pris en compte dans la définition des entités culturelles et des systèmes techniques au Paléolithique inférieur.
Article
Dune pattern, grain-size gradients and geochemistry were used to investigate the sources and dynamics of aeolian deposition during the last glacial in southwest France. The coversands form widespread fields of low-amplitude ridges (zibars), whereas Younger Dryas parabolic dunes mainly concentrate in corridors and along rivers. Spatial modelling of grain-size gradients combined with geochemical analysis points to a genetic relationship between coversands and loess, the latter resulting primarily from dust produced by aeolian abrasion of the coversands. The alluvium of the Garonne river provided also significant amounts of dust at a more local scale. The geochemical composition of loess shows much lower scattering than that of coversands, due to stronger homogenisation during transport in the atmosphere. Overall, sandy loess and loess deposits decrease in thickness away from the coversands. Dune orientation and grain-size gradients suggest that the efficient winds blew respectively from the W to the NW during the glacial, and the W-SW during the Younger Dryas. A comparison between the wind directions derived from the proxy data and those provided by palaeoclimatic simulations suggests a change of the main transport season. Ground surface conditions and their evolution throughout the year, i.e. the length of the season with snow and frozen or moist topsoil, and the seasonal distribution of wind speeds able to cause deflation are thought to have been the main factors that controlled the transport season in the study area.
Article
The Land Use and Cover Area frame Statistical survey (LUCAS) database on topsoil properties in Europe was used to map aeolian deposits. The points which satisfy the grain-size criteria of coversands, loess and transitional facies were extracted from the rasters of predicted soil texture established by kriging of the LUCAS data by Ballabio et al. (). A comparison with already available maps, derived from a conventional field approach, shows a good fit in most of the tested areas. The new map, however, suggests a greater extension of loess, which seems related to the inclusion of thin loess covers, usually omitted by conventional mapping, and the presence of previously unmapped areas due to lack of survey or misinterpretation. The main source of aeolian particles corresponds to glacio-fluvial sediments at the margin of the Scandinavian and Alpine ice sheets. Coversands and loess form a broad band across northern Europe, and in the Rhône, Rhine and Danube valleys. Large areas on the outskirts of these deposits also received a significant loess contribution, which has been reworked in slope deposits. Conversely, southern Europe is characterized by much less loess accumulation. The Atlantic coast has transgressive dune fields that penetrate inland to varying degrees.
Article
This paper provides an overview of the MIS 11 record for Britain. The glacial history of Britain, in particular the Anglian glaciation of MIS 12, enables the identification of a number of sites that can be attributed to MIS 11. The good biological preservation at several of the sites allows correlation between them and therefore a better understanding of the chronology of the associated lithic industries. These assemblages can also in some cases be linked to the changing geographic position of Britain as sometimes a peninsula and other times an island of mainland Europe. It means that populations were colonising, retreating, or becoming locally extinct, then recolonizing as the geographic status changed. The initial colonisers seem to have lacked handaxe technology. Although this has been traditionally framed within a parochial ‘Clactonian’ debate, this paper suggests that it is better viewed within a European context to understand better the dynamics of population movement and the possible source areas for those populations. Equally differences in other lithic technologies, such as handaxes, can be viewed in this light. Finally, the paper suggests that within a European context, non-handaxes assemblages should be viewed as part of the technocomplex of the Acheulian and that there are many other technological and behavioural features that unite the various sites of MIS 11 Europe.
Article
Increasing evidence suggests that bifacial technology (Acheulian, Mode 2) arrived in Europe during the early Middle Pleistocene, i.e. significantly earlier than previously proposed. In northern France and Britain, much of the age attribution for these assemblages has been based on biostratigraphy and lithostratigraphy rather than absolute dates. This study presents a systematic application of electron spin resonance (ESR) dating of sedimentary quartz and ESR/U-series dating of fossil tooth enamel to key Acheulian sites of this area. Although the age estimates have large associated uncertainties, most of the derived dates are consistent with existing age estimates. The new chronologies and the problems associated with dating material of early Middle Pleistocene age are discussed. In Britain, the earliest archaeology (cores and flakes, Mode 1) is older than Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 15, whereas localities containing Acheulian technologies span late MIS 15/MIS 13 through to MIS 9. A similar pattern is seen in northern France although age estimates from sites such as la Noira suggest the possible appearance of the Acheulian in central France as early as MIS 17. The dates presented here support the suggestion that the earliest Acheulian appeared in NW Europe during the early Middle Pleistocene, significantly after its appearance in the southern parts of the continent.
Article
The introduction of biface technology in the Lower Palaeolithic arguably marked a fundamental change in how early hominins dealt with their world. It is suggested to reflect changes not just in tool form and innovative shaping, but also in planning depth, landscape use and social structures. This paper examines in detail the chronology of the first Acheulian industries in northwest Europe with the earliest sites from c. 700 ka through to later sites at c. 400 ka. It asks whether evidence from these sites can further our understanding of how the Acheulian and the bifacial technology emerged in this region, but more critically whether it was the underlying behavioural changes that enabled the more sustained occupation of northern latitudes. In particular the paper assesses whether cultural signatures can be identified and whether this reflects changes in group dynamics and social structures that could be a fundamental aspect of surviving in more seasonal, cooler climates. To achieve this, the industries are examined in their chronological and biogeographical framework and compared over time and with the south European sites. The study discusses the influencing factors on variability such as raw material, site function, palaeogeography and questions regarding the background conditions for the introduction of the bifacial technology in Europe. The flexibility in behaviour makes the identification of cultural traditions across Europe difficult due to the situational responses of the early hominins. The large geographical area, the long time period, the fragmented record and a chronology, that still needs improvement, all mean that only glimpses of traditions can be identified, usually at a very local level. However, due to the more extreme climatic cycles of northern Europe, compared to southern Europe, it seems inevitable that populations colonized repeatedly from south to north as climate warmed and retreated or populations became locally extinct as climate cooled. Although there are broad similarities in technology, attempts to identify cultural links have been hampered by the greater variety of raw materials in the south compared to the generally better quality siliceous raw materials in the north. Broad patterns over time might be discernible, with perhaps a refinement through time, but there are also many exceptions to this observation. What seems clearer are other technological innovations from 600 to 500 ka that seem part of an Acheulian package and might reflect other changes in human cultures and societies. It is suggested that these developments were a critical part of more sustained occupation of northern latitudes.
Article
The introduction of biface technology in the Lower Palaeolithic arguably marked a fundamental change in how early hominins dealt with their world. It is suggested to reflect changes not just in tool form and innovative shaping, but also in planning depth, landscape use and social structures. This paper examines in detail the chronology of the first Acheulian industries in north-west Europe with the earliest sites from c. 700 ka through to later sites at c. 400 ka. It asks whether evidence from these sites can further our understanding of how the Acheulian and the bifacial technology emerged in this region, but more critically whether it was the underlying behavioural changes that enabled the more sustained occupation of northern latitudes. In particular the paper assesses whether cultural signatures can be identified and whether this reflects changes in group dynamics and social structures that could be a fundamental aspect of surviving in more seasonal, cooler climates.
Article
Several Acheulean sites dated between stages MIS 12 to 9 are located around the town of Amiens in the Somme Valley. These include: Cagny-la-Garenne I, Cagny-la-Garenne II, Cagny-la-Ferme de l'Epinette, Cagny-l'Epinette, Revelles and Gentelles. The aim of this paper is to present the chronological situation and context of each of these sites and to ascertain the continuity or the discontinuity of the main behavioral aspects of the raw material procurement patterns, the core types and the biface and tool-flake status. We also examine numerous aspects of shaping and knapping, such as the presence of hammerstones or specialized classes of lithics. A synthesis of data underlines changes in the main categories of lithic artifacts and variability or convergence in the production systems.
Article
The excavation at Saint-Illiers-la-Ville revealed an archaeological level which contained one Micoquian biface, of a kind known in the vicinity and across the Paris Basin since the 19th century beginning of Palaeolithic archaeology, and through the doctoral research of François Bordes. As the stratigraphy of these old collections appears similar to that of Saint-Illiers-la-Ville, this geographical and chronological proximity raises questions about the possible technical unity of these groups. In this view, the technical characteristics of Saint-Illiers-la-Ville industries are presented and compared in this paper with the old series of the Paris Basin, as well as with other series subsequently attributed to this Micoquian entity. It emerges that the Micoquian biface is not suitable to define a group because it constitutes one technical solution among others, present in various moments and places of prehistory. However, when inserted into its wide geographical, chronological and technical context, this type of biface is able to define a techno-cultural reality. Accordingly, it is suggested that the term Micoquian should be abandoned and that a new name be chosen to designate these industries of the beginning of the last glaciation in the Paris Basin.
Article
During Middle Pleistocene, biface appears in Western Europe. This stone tool characterises in particular the Acheulian culture (Lower Palaeolithic). The typological variability of the biface has been shown during the xxth century, but we usually consider the Acheulian of Western Europe as a homogeneous entity when creating models for the peopling of Europe. The study of 36 Acheulian lithic industries in France, Italy, Spain and England, dating between 630 000 to 300 000 years, shows up major technical differences. We especially see the exclusive presence within tool kits of the bifacial piece “as a blank for tools” in North-Western Europe, whereas the bifacial piece “as a tool” is distributed everywhere in Western Europe, together with tools on other blanks (flakes, pebbles, blocks). These differences would make sense oncethe industries put in relative chronology. Such a construction requires to consider reliable local and regional stratigraphies, valid at a European scale, but the chronostratigraphical location of the industry is frequently problematic. The interpretation of the stratigraphy varies depending on the authors, the identification of some geological formation is controversial (diamicton, till in primary or secondary contexts, interference of glaciotectonic phenomenon) and stratigraphical hiatuses are not systematically considered. Stratigraphy is difficult to read when continental, marine and volcanic deposits alternate in the sequence, with few chronological markers. Alluvial terraces’ interlocking and layers of alterites also make the sections hardly understandable. Critical analysis of lithostratigraphies and chronological attributions allows us to propose a new model for appearance and diffusion of bifacial pieces from North-Western to Southern Europe. This model should be confirmed, as well as generally accepted models (e.g. Out of Africa theory), by getting new reliable stratigraphies.
Article
L'Acheuléen est considéré généralment comme rare en grottes et abris, et à vrai dire, il l'est relativement. En Dordogne, on ne connaît guère pour le moment que la Micoque (abri), Combe-Grenal (petite grotte-abri) et le Pech de I'Azé II (grotte). Il y a sans doute des raisons multiples: les abris rissiens ou antérieurs sont effondrés et recouverts de dépôts de pentes, et ne peuvent être découverts que par hasard. Les grottes ont souvent «rejoué» pendant le der-nier interglaciaire ou un interstade humide: c'est le cas au Pech de l'Azé, où les dépôts ris-siens et Würm I ont été détruits au Pech de l'Azé I et conservés seulement au Pech de I'Azé II. Enfin, très probablement, la population acheuléenne était moins dense que celle du Moustérien et du Paléolithique supérieur. Cependant, la relative abondance de gisements acheuléens de plein air fait penser que de nouvelles découvertes sont à prévoir. Cet Acheuléen est d'ailleurs particulier, nettement différent de l'Acheuléen classique de la vallée de la Somme ou même de la Charente, et différent aussi de celui de la vallée de la Garonne dans la région toulousaine, plus proche de celui du Nord. Le Pech de I'Azé II: Le Pech de I'Azé est une grotte connue depuis longtemps, puisque Jouannet (1816) et l'Abbé Audierne (1828) mentionnent déjà leurs recherches dans ce site. C'est une grotte ouver-te aux deux bouts, traversant un petit éperon rocheux, et située assez haut au-dessus de la vallée, maintenant sèche, d'un petit affluent de l'Enéa, lui-même se jetant dans la Dordogne à Carsac. L'ouverture SE, ou Pech de I'Azé I, renferme des dépôts du Würm II, avec un riche Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne (1). L'ouverture Nord Ouest, ou Pech II, renferme des dé-pôts rissiens, avec Acheuléen, et des dépôts du Würm I, avec Moustériens variés (mais pas de tradition acheuléenne). Les dépôts rissiens et du Würm I ont certainement existé aussi dans le Pech de I'Azé I, mais ont été vidangés pendant l'interstade Würm I/II, ce qui est dommage, car le Pech II, moins bien exposé, semble n'avoir joué que le rôle de «drop plein. et, sauf pour le début du Würm I, les couches y sont en général pauvres. (1) Bordes (F). Les gisements du Pech de I'Azé (Dordogne). I, Le Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne. L'Anthropologie, t. 58. p. 401-432 et t. 59, p. 1-32, 29 figs., 15 tabl. 2 appendices (1954-1955).
Article
There are now a growing number of sites with a range of proxies that enable a reconstruction of the human habitats of Early and Middle Pleistocene sites in northern Europe. This paper reviews the British record from these periods and concludes that humans were able to survive in a range of climatic and vegetational zones from the earliest occupation in the Early and early Middle Pleistocene. The likely source areas for colonising populations in southern Europe and the probable habitats to which they were adapted in these source areas is discussed. It is argued that colonising populations would need new strategies to cope successfully with northern latitudes, with technological innovations, such as clothing, shelter and possibly fire, being more likely than seasonal migration or physical adaptation. Finally, it is suggested that the earliest evidence prior to 500 ka reflects pioneering populations, perhaps of Homo antecessor, with only sporadic occupation of northern Europe. However, by 500 ka new technologies and other adaptive strategies enabled Homo heidelbergensis to have a more sustained occupation in northern latitudes.
Article
Preliminary results are presented from three seasons' work at the Lower Palaeolithic site at Barnham. The complex stratigraphy is described and a provisional interpretation given, which suggests that the archaeological deposits date to a warm phase after the Anglian (Middle Pleistocene) cold stage. A faunal assemblage from the deposits is described, providing an environmental and biostratigraphic context for the site. Further geochronological control is provided by amino acid ratios on shells from the sequence. Two flint assemblages have been excavated, the first consisting of flakes and cores, and the second including bifaces. These assemblages and their position in the British sequence are considered in terms of their stratigraphic context and their relationship to other Lower Palaeolithic assemblages in the British Isles.
Article
Polygonal patterned grounds are widespread over glacial tills in northern Quebec. The polygons, 10 m to 30 m in diameter, are bordered by soil wedges which are confined to the active layer. Six types of polygonal networks are recognized and the two most common ones are described. It appears that ground thermal cracking following destruction of vegetation by fire caused inception of soil wedges. Furthermore, radiocarbon dates obtained on fire horizons coincide with Holocene cold periods determined by several other studies in the region. The formation of the studied soil wedge polygons seems closely related to permafrost aggradation. -Authors
Article
The excavations of several open air sites in Northern France and, especially in the Somme basin, have given numerous data concerning the age and the environment of the human occupations for the period from MIS 12 to MIS 8. The quality of the raw material and the function of the different sites have a great effect on the composition of the lithic assemblages as it has been seen for the different sites located near the confluence of the Somme and Avre (Cagny-la Garenne, Cagny-l’Épinette, Ferme de l’Épinette, Gentelles). The characteristics of the lithic industries of Gouzeaucourt show the complexity of the transition from Lower to Middle Palaeolithic.