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Nanterre, France

Several scenarios have been proposed to explain the origin and the development of the Châtelperronian, the last manifestation of Neanderthal populations in western Europe. The technical, cultural, symbolic and genetic links between Châtelperronian and Aurignacian groups, i.e. between the last Neanderthals and the first anatomically modern humans, are at the center of current debates. Recently, the idea of a gradual evolution from the Châtelperronian to the Protoaurignacian has been proposed. Here, a detailed analysis of blade production in three Châtelperronian layers from Quinçay and a comparison with Protoaurignacian blade production demonstrates the differences between these two industries. The methods and the goals of blade production are clearly different. A cultural evolutionary link between the Châtelperronian and Protoaurignacian based on the techniques of blade production cannot be supported. © 2013 Académie des sciences.

Regev J.,Bar - Ilan University | Regev J.,Weizmann Institute of Science | de Miroschedji P.,Allee Of Luniversite | Boaretto E.,Weizmann Institute of Science
Radiocarbon | Year: 2012

Over the years, 40 radiocarbon samples (charcoal and seeds) have been measured from the site of Tel Yarmuth. These samples originate from 3 major archaeological periods: Final Early Bronze Age (henceforth EB) I, EB II, and EB IIIB-C. The samples are further on divided into 8 separate archaeological phases. Bayesian modeling analyses were performed on the data. Separate models were run with seeds and charcoals to detect a possible old-wood effect. Outliers were detected, and finally models with gaps were run to account for the lack of samples from 2 archaeological layers. The results suggest that at Tel Yarmuth the end of the EB II occurred ~2950-2880 BC, and that the EB III ended at the latest ~2450 BC, perhaps before 2500 BC. Although these dates are somewhat earlier than traditionally assumed, they are in close accordance with the new analysis of other 14C dates for the Early Bronze Age in the southern Levant (Regev et al., these proceedings). © 2012 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.

Fullola J.-M.,University of Barcelona | Mangado X.,University of Barcelona | Tejero J.-M.,University of Barcelona | Tejero J.-M.,Allee Of Luniversite | And 6 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

The Magdalenian is the first Upper Palaeolithic period to show a widespread human occupation throughout the northeastern territories of Iberia. Several sites have been located in both the plains and mountains extending from the Pyrenean valleys of the Segre River to the mouth of the Ebro River. The oldest dates (in the XIXth millennium cal BP) were obtained at the open-air site of Montlleó, in the Pyrenean valley of Cerdanya. Most of the Magdalenian sites have yielded information about short or seasonal occupations related with the exploitation of natural resources. Parco cave preserves a good stratigraphic sequence ranging from Middle to Upper and Late Upper Magdalenian (from XVIIth to XIVth millennium cal BP). In this site, various human activities were organized around a significant number of hearths. They were related with animal and mineral processing. The data obtained at Parco and Montlleó sites have enabled the reconstruction of the Late Upper Pleistocene palaeoenvironment for the southeastern Pyrenees area. However, other sites from the southern part of the country are also providing very interesting information about climate, as well as faunal and floral elements, with more recent radiocarbon dates (XVth to XIVth millennium cal BP). Some malacological remains found in Montlleó come from the Mediterranean coast, but others come from the Cantabrian area, thus indicating a route of connection between the two seas during the Magdalenian. There is also limited artistic evidence in Taverna cave, Molí del Salt, l'Hort de la Boquera, Sant Gregori, and Parellada IV sites. One of the most significant findings of the research is the archaeological confirmation of the existence of human movements across the Pyrenees during the Magdalenian. Some raw materials found in Montlleó are of French origin, others come from the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, and still others could come from either side. The site is near the westernmost route opened during the last glaciation for crossing the Pyrenees. Thus, people and materials may well have circulated across the Pyrenees through this corridor. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.

Bone retouchers are the most ancient osseous tools of the European Palaeolithic. They are very frequent on Mousterian sites and persist throughout the Upper Palaeolithic. Several functional analyses have been devoted to them and the most commonly accepted hypothesis proposed is their use for lithic tool retouching by percussion. However, this hypothesis is based mainly on studies of Mousterian pieces while few functional analyses have been undertaken on Upper Palaeolithic bone retouchers. The persistent presence of these "ad hoc" tools makes their study important. This article presents the results of a techno-functional analysis devoted to the Early Aurignacian bone retouchers from Abri Castanet at Sergeac (Dordogne), northern and southern sectors (layer A and US 131 and below), Grotte des Hyènes at Brassempouy (Landes, complex 2) and Gatzarria at Suhare (Pyrénées-Atlantiques, layer cbcf). These unworked bone tools, including many specimens identified a posteriori among faunal remains, represent a significant part of the studied assemblages' osseous equipment. There are two categories of retouchers: those on raw bone fragments and those on technical objects. The former, most numerous, are mainly long bone shaft fragments recovered after food operations and used just as they were, without modification. The latter correspond to the use of finished objects like smoothers and awls as well as manufacturing by-products. They bear diagnostic traces of utilisation in the form of linear, deep, short depressions, v-shaped in cross section. These depressions are similar to those that have been described in previous work involving microscopic observation and are compatible with use for lithic tool retouching by percussion. However, unlike Middle Palaeolithic retouchers, where the depressions are perpendicular to the main axis of the piece, Early Aurignacian depressions are often vertical (in combination or not with horizontal ones). This is a characteristic feature of Upper Palaeolithic retouchers related to their positions during use. The vertical depressions imply that the main axis of the retoucher is oriented parallel to the lithic edge during use. Quite obviously, this change in the functioning of retouchers must be linked to changes in flint-knapping processes. To understand this relationship, we explored the effects of changing the orientation of retouchers. One notable difference is their curvature in the transverse and longitudinal axes. The latter is clearly more pronounced than the former, meaning that the retouchers offer a greater overall surface area when used in a parallel orientation. We hypothesized that this orientation was preferred to increase the active surface of retouchers for the retouching of blade products. Indeed, during the Early Aurignacian, the manufacture of blade tools, scrapers in particular, often involved retouching very convex and narrow ends. Orienting the retoucher parallel to the lithic edge would have been a technical solution to compensate for the decrease in the active surface presented by the strong convexity of blade ends. However, within the Early Aurignacian lithic industry, blade ends are not the only items to show strong convexity: the fronts of carinated and nosed scrapers also display them. The use of retouchers in bladelet knapping has not so far been considered, but constitutes a second hypothesis that could explain the particular orientation of Early Aurignacian retouchers during use. These two assumptions have been tested by experimental replication. Results show that bone retouchers are effective tools for both blade retouching and bladelet knapping, provided that the weight of the retoucher is adjusted to suit the type of lithic product. In addition, lithic and bone tools produced experimentally fall within the range of variation observed in the archaeological assemblages studied. Finally, although this has not always been necessary, experimentation confirms the usefulness of parallel retoucher orientation to adapt the active surface areas to strong lithic convexity. To date, strong convexity of lithic products is the main factor likely to explain the change in retoucher orientation that occurred at least as early as the Early Aurignacian. Thus, retouchers of this period attest to the duration of an ancient technical process, involving the use of bone for stone knapping. Specimens bearing vertical depressions thus illustrate the adaptation of the retouchers to "new" lithic technologies. The important role played by retouchers in retouching Mousterian tools and their number within the assemblages studied leave little doubt as to their use in retouching Upper Palaeolithic blade products. However, it is still difficult to determine whether they were in fact used in bladelet knapping. The traces of utilisation on experimental retouchers are quite similar to those on specimens used in blade retouching. An expanded experimental program and analysis of the bone tools with high magnification should facilitate the assessment of morphometric changes in use-wear traces based on activity. In addition, a comparison of technical and functional characteristics of archaeological and experimental lithic products should help clarify the array of hammers used during the Aurignacian.

Cauliez J.,UMR 5608 | Blaise E.,French Natural History Museum | Bressy C.,UMR 6636 | Convertini F.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 10 more authors.
Bulletin de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise | Year: 2011

The open-air settlement of Limon-Raspail has been discovered in March 2005. It has been subject to a rescue excavation during spring 2005. This excavation was conducted under the direction of Jessie Cauliez and was headed by the Service Régional de l'Archéologie de Provence-Alpes-Côte- d'Azur. The site of Limon-Raspail is localized on a small hill at 350 m height and covers a surface of almost 15000 square meters. The site dominates the Mormoiron depression in the south and the one of Bédoin in the north. The excavation carried out on a surface of 250 square meters has allowed discovery of a settlement organized around thirty-five pits. It is assigned to the Final Neolithic and dated to a time span of between 2880 and 2580 cal BC at most. This interval is based on six radiocarbon AMS dates made from faunal remains and charcoal all stemming from distinct features. Multiple occupations are possible as some of the pits overlap. As a matter of fact, with this in mind, the homogeneity of the pottery and lithic assemblages as well as the uniformity of all the radiocarbon measurements indicate that the different phases of pit digging have occurred within a rather short time span and that the site of Limon-Raspail is consistent from the chronological and cultural viewpoint. These pit features mirror an area of activities related to a dwelling. As a matter of fact, a group of rather deep pits with narrow shape was unearthed in the excavated sector. A form of silo pit, they may be destined for storage purposes. Associated with these storage features, fire places are also discovered, for example shallow pits or depressions as well as hearth structures. Large amounts of daub and unbaked clay found on the site are used for multiple purposes (artefacts, hearth features, sealing of storage features, rendering of the bottom). The importance of daub remains discovered in the pits suggests the presence of earth architecture: the large size of the identified fragments and the important dimensions of wattle imprints on those fragments at least testify to the presence of important elevations of settlement walls. This monographic paper presents an exhaustive description of all artefacts (pottery, lithics, ornaments, bone industry, axe blades, grinding tools) and construction remains discovered at Limon-Raspail. In addition, the pottery and the axe blades have been part of an advanced petrographical analysis. Furthermore, the results of the use wear analysis of the lithic industry are published here. Finally, the determination of the faunal remains allows detailed conclusion on the adopted food economy during the Final Neolithic occupation of the site. At Limon-Raspail, the artefacts can hardly be compared to the current assemblages, representing three main cultural groups invoked since almost thirty years in the construction of the chronological and cultural framework in this area of Southeastern France: the Fraischamp, the North Vaucluse and the Rhône-Ouvèze group. Yet, the site of Limon-Raspail is neighbouring the eponymous sites of these three groups. On the other hand, the location of the settlement, at the northern margins of Province adjacent to the central Rhone valley enables us to make broader comparison with the Drôme region (Allan and Les Bruyères groups), with the Saône-Rhône axis (groups of Lüscherz and Clairvaux) and with the Piedmont in Italy (Mont Viso group). The central Rhone valley thus appears to be at the crossroads of interaction processes connecting the different groups of Southern France to those of more eastern and northern regions. Established in a buffer zone, the site of Limon-Raspail is the only representative of the mecanisms that contribute to the development of multipolar margin groups and to the junction of the different cultural flows that structure the Final Neolithic.

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