Nîmes, France
Nîmes, France

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Bouby L.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Bouchette A.,INRAP Mediterranee | Rovira N.,Montpellier University | Ivorra S.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Grapevine (Vitis vinifera), one of the most important fruit species in the Classical Mediterranean world, is thought to have been domesticated first in South-Western Asia, during the Neolithic. However, the domestication process remains largely unknown. Crucial unanswered questions concern the duration of the process (rapid or slow?) and the related geographical area (single or multiple-origins?). Seeds from domesticated grapevine and from its wild ancestor are reported to differ according to shape. Our work aims, first, to confirm this difference and secondly to identify the extent of domestication in the grapes cultivated by Romans in Southern France during the period 50 BCE-500 CE. We had the opportunity to analyze uncharred waterlogged grape pips from 17 archaeological sites. Based on an extended reference sample of modern wild grapevines and cultivars our work shows that both subspecies can be discriminated using simple measurements. The elongation gradient of the pip's body and stalk may be regarded as an indicator of the strength of the selection pressures undergone by domesticated grapes. Grapevines cultivated during the Roman period included a mix of morphotypes comprising wild, intermediate and moderately selected domesticated forms. Our data point to a relative shift towards more selected types during the Roman period. Domestication of the grapevine appears to have been a slow process. This could result from the recurrent incorporation into cultivation of plants originating from sexual reproduction, when grape cultivation essentially relies on vegetative propagation. © 2013 Bouby et al.


Thiebaut C.,Pacea | Mourre V.,Inrap Mediterranee | Chalard P.,SRA Midi Pyrenees | Colonge D.,Inrap GSO | And 3 more authors.
Quaternary International | Year: 2012

The Mousterian of the North side of the Pyrenees has been the subject of several synthesis including relatively recent ones dealing with all the aspects of the Neanderthal groups subsistence. The Tarragona-Capellades workshop provided an interesting opportunity for developing a new synthetic balance regarding the final (MIS 3) Mousterian of the Pyrenees, with an emphasis on data regarding lithic industries and resulting from the recent research on the North side with a few incursions on the South side. Some comparisons are taking shape, opening new research trails which still largely remain to explore, but which reveal the Pyrenees as a much less impermeable natural boundary than might be thought a priori. In the region, a technical diversity is perceptible. It is characterized by the use of very varied raw materials, the display of different flaking methods and the production of tools with diversified technical and morpho-functional characteristics. Despite this important diversity, several series share some characteristics that allow sketching a " technical geography" whose interpretation remains to be discussed case by case. Some areas thus defined coincide with entities traditionally interpreted as cultural, as in the case of the Vasconian. © 2011.


Laroulandie V.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Faivre J.-P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Gerbe M.,LAMPEA UMR 7269 | Mourre V.,INRAP Mediterranee | Mourre V.,University Toulouse Jean Jaures
Quaternary International | Year: 2015

Only a few years ago, Neanderthals were considered as unable to exploit fast-moving small prey. Several recent studies have reconsidered this matter and shown that in some setting Neanderthals exploited leporids and birds, as did anatomically modern human. However, detailed taphonomic and zooarchaeological analyses are still scarce, and this prevents us from estimating the diversity, the chronological and geographical framework of this behavior. In order to contribute to this debate, we analyzed more than three hundred bird remains from several levels of Les Fieux (Locus 1, Central area) dating to MIS 3. Direct evidence (digestion, gnawing, cut-marks) indicates that large nocturnal raptors, carnivores and Neanderthals were involved in the accumulation and modification of the bird remains. This result shows the importance of such analytical approaches.All the birds used by Neanderthal occupants of Les Fieux are regular or occasional scavengers. It is suggested that Neanderthals took advantage of this feeding habits and of the local setting for the procurement of edible and non-edible bird resources. In one of the levels, Neanderthals exploited a Common Raven, probably as food item. In 4 levels, Neanderthal looked for large diurnal raptor talons. This interest appears to be a persistent element throughout the Mousterian analyzed levels from Les Fieux, recalling similar findings from other European sites. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA.


Chevillot P.,INRAP Mediterranee | Chevillot P.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Martin S.,INRAP Mediterranee | Martin S.,French National Center for Scientific Research | And 6 more authors.
Quaternaire | Year: 2010

The Plain of Vistre, also known as Vistrenque, south of Nîmes (in the Gard department of southern France), is marked by a complex geomorphological evolution spread over several millennia and dominated by two factors: 1) much of the land is formed by the Pleistocen model, notably Lateglacial, and by the Holocene fluvial morphogenesis. These formed an undulating palaeotopography made up of thalwegs and interfluves, often over very short distances, caused notably by the brooks that feed the river Vistre; the hydrologic activity of these erosive brooks, locally called "caderaux", is similar to wadis. 2) the structural fragility of the susbstratum of the Vistrenque, made up of colluvial-alluvial and loessial sediment, has generated a strong amount of detritus that masks the palaeotopographies. The resulting smoothing of the land complicates the interpretation and detection of archaeological sites. Since the last 20 years, the most of studies have renewed knowledge of the history of the settlement in the Nîmes territories, testifying to a vigorous and early anthropic occupation. While the first signs of occupation reach back to the Upper Palaeolithic period, the first real anthropic impact on the land in the Nîmes area begins in the early Neolithic period (Epicardial) and most notably in the middle Neolithic period (Chasseen). In this very particular geomorphological context, the contraction and homogeneity of the stratigraphic sequences raises the question of whether there were interruptions in human occupation and/or the sedimentary process. The problem of the taphonomy of the sites thus arises as soon as an archaeological diagnostic has begun, carried out in the framework of pluridisciplinary studies focused on the interactions between man and his environment. This problem centres on the differential conservation of the stratifications and sites and the structuring of the land. The separate and comparable insight of archeologists and paleo-environmentalists allows a finer appreciation of the evolution of land occupation in the Nîmes area and its construction, and to ask further questions about the heritage and mobility of the lands within it.


The archaeological site of Parc Saint-Georges, Lyon (Rhone valley, France), is located on the right bank of the Saône. The geomorphological study made it possible to identify the original confluence point of the Rhône and the Saône during the 1st Iron Age. By the end of the La Tene period, new bioclimatic conditions lead to the incision and shining of the Rhöne, to the East. Then the Saône opened a more direct channel across the plain. The two courses of the Saône met south of the site, around the beginning of the 1st century A.D. The riverside activities developed there, in close relationship with river bank mobility, from the 1st century to the mid 3rd century. This period marks the filling in of the primitive Saône channel and the initiation of a new course, close to the present one. An interdisciplinary approach (geo-archaeology, fruit/seeds analysis, palynology and malacology) proposes a new reconstruction of the topography, the palaeohydrology, the vegetation and the relationship between humans and their environment from Protohistory to Roman period.


Figueiral I.,Inrap Mediterranee | Figueiral I.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Fabre L.,Inrap Mediterranee | Fabre L.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Bel V.,Inrap Mediterranee
Quaternaire | Year: 2010

A surprising variety of woods has been identified while studying wood-fuel from gallo-roman cremations, in the Languedoc region. A minimum of 34 species, both shrubby and arboreal, is recorded. The recycling of pruning remains is particularly noticed. No significant differences between rural and urban cremation burials are observed. The diversified taxonomic spectrum suggests that, in general, no particular selection was carried out. As a result data thus obtained may also provide information on local vegetation, local ecology and plant biogeography. It is possible however, that in certain occasions, particular species might have been selected for symbolic reasons. Results obtained point to the existence of a coherent supply system, without a standard procedure and without precise and/or restrictive rules.


Figueiral I.,INRAP Mediterranee | Figueiral I.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Sejalon P.,INRAP Mediterranee
Environmental Archaeology | Year: 2014

A study of plant remains from seven archaeological wells at Mas de Vignoles IX, near Nîmes, southern France, was used to shed light on a current gap in the archaeological record caused by erosion and modern agriculture. The analysis also explored the reliability of these sources for palaeoenvironmental and palaeoeconomical information. Significant results on the spatial organization of human habitation, economic activities, and on the environment and its exploitation were obtained for the Middle Neolithic to Roman periods. Furthermore, the Neolithic wells also provided the first early finds of fig seeds in France. The abundance of weed and ruderal plants up to the Iron Age is consistent with data from other studies and their dramatic decrease during the Roman period may have resulted from radical changes in land management. The study marks the first time, in southern France, that a group of wells from a single site have provided a complete record throughout the later prehistoric and Roman periods. © Association for Environmental Archaeology 2014.


Figueiral I.,INRAP Mediterranee | Figueiral I.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Pomaredes H.,INRAP Mediterranee | Court-Picon M.,Royal Belgian Institute Of Natural Sciences | And 3 more authors.
Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences | Year: 2015

Archaeological wells have recently become a major source of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoeconomic information, thus, providing the background for past day-to-day material life. At the site of La Lesse–Espagnac (Hérault), combined evidence from archaeobotany, morphometry and palynology, from two wells, offers a coherent picture of the diversity of the local Gallo-Roman farming economy, whose development was fuelled by the proximity of a major urban centre (Colonia Urbs Julia Septimanorum Baeterra—present day Béziers). The ever present vine growing and wine making were complemented by other food crops such as fruit trees, vegetables, condiments and cereals. The dense network of farming establishments and the scale of their production could only aggravate the extent of anthropogenic impact on the local natural woodlands and would explain the very minor role of typical thermophilous trees in the pollen diagram. The over-multiplication of these farming establishments may explain why some of them apparently ran out of momentum and eventually failed © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Goude G.,UMR 7269 LAMPEA | Schmitt A.,UMR 7269 LAMPEA | Herrscher E.,UMR 7269 LAMPEA | Loison G.,UMR 7269 LAMPEA | And 2 more authors.
Bulletin de la Societe Prehistorique Francaise | Year: 2013

This paper presents new stable isotope data (513C and 8I5N) on the Middle Neolithic human group from Pontcharaud (Puy-de-Dôme, Auvergne, France), in order to determine a dietary pattern for both individuals and the entire group. The region considered is particularly interesting for its environmental diversity and for the possibility of exploiting various food resources. The acquisition of new Neolithic palaeodietary data in a geographic area not studied until now, and different from previous research, allows the development of a comparative approach to understanding foodstuff choices including social and environmental aspects. Indeed, data are analyzed within the environmental and social context, which helps to establish a regional comparison with other contemporary populations in the south of France, characterized by various subsistence economies. This comparison aims at understanding possible dietary differences between southern human groups and populations from central France during the second half of the 5th millennium BC, and checking if diet could be linked to a specific environment and/or to cultural choices. The site of Pontcharaud 2 is located in Clermont Ferrand in Central France (Auvergne). It is composed of a large funerary complex from which radiocarbon dates from bones indicate a chronological range between 4460 and 4030 BC cal. (LY7916:5640 ± 70 BP; LY7918:5330 ± 55 BP; LY 7917:5430 ± 50). In our study, two other radiocarbon dates were performed on human bones from the multiple deposit. The results (5350 ± 40 BP Poz-41914:4324-4051 BC cal.; 5380 ± 40 BP Poz-41915:4335-4059 BC cal.) also indicate that this specific group belongs to the same period as the rest of the necropolis. The number of burials and the preservation of human remains allowed much information to be obtained regarding bioarchaeological aspects as well as funerary practices. Indeed, osteological work was carried out prior to the isotopic analysis. According to the growth stage, different methods were used to estimate individuals' age at death. Immature subjects were divided into three subgroups in order to apply statistical processing: [0-4], [5-14] and [15-19] years old. These subgroups were defined according to biological criteria. Sex assessment was performed on adult remains thanks to the 'DSP' method (probabilistic sex diagnosis) established on the basis of metric data. Archaeological criteria considered for this study are, on the one hand, the presence or absence of perennial funerary architecture, and, on the other, the distinction between individual or multiple burials. 813C and 5I5N were analyzed on bone collagen from humans and animals in order to obtain individual dietary data, more particularly on the environments exploited (e. g. marine vs. terrestrial), and on the position of the individual within the trophic system (e. g. herbivore vs. carnivore). Adult (n = 37) and immature (n = 21) bones were selected with associated faunal material such as sheep/goat, cattle and pig (n = 7), and the collagen extracted was measured by EA-IRMS. Results are consistent with the consumption of terrestrial animal protein for most of the individuals. The major part of the group seems to have consumed a significant quantity of herbivore meat coming from local resources. However, the wide nitrogen isotope range indicates different access to animal protein according to individuals. Thus, we suspect several subjects consumed 15N enriched resources. Among l5N enriched resources, and considering the local environment (semi-mountainous with an accessible fluvial network), freshwater fish and/or young animals could be good candidates. Isotopic variations seem not to be linked to sex or age, but could reflect social variations in relationship with burial practice specificities (individual burial vs. multiple burial or deposit). Indeed, statistical tests applied to compare individuals buried in single or double graves and individuals from the multiple deposit highlight a significant isotopic difference for both carbon and nitrogen. The seven subjects from this specific deposit seem to have had less animal protein intake than the other members of this community, and/or they had consumed food resources from a distinct isotopic environment. Seven individuals were excavated from this deposit: five adult men and two children. The status of these subjects comparatively to the rest of the group was widely debated and still commented. Our results underline the particularity of these people and suggest a link between their diet and their social status and/or their exogenous geographic origin. A comparison with other Middle Neolithic sites from the southern region highlights various dietary patterns according to the region and the environment. The human group from Pontcharaud 2 shows the highest 515N values compared to groups located inland (Garonne), and those located close to the Mediterranean coast (Languedoc). To explain these differences, we propose the hypothesis of more animal protein intake and/or more l5N enriched protein intake (freshwater fish, young animals such as calf) for the Pontcharaud human group. This dietary pattern could be linked to local particularities such as climate and the semi-mountainous landscapes. Unfortunately no zooarchaeological study which could support our results is available for the moment. However, based on stable isotope analysis we can suggest regional trends in subsistence economy patterns: on the one hand, human groups living inland, in a hilly/semi-mountainous landscape, more mobile and consuming more wild resources (aquatic/terrestrial), considered as herders, and, on the other hand, a population located more on the plain, more sedentary, consuming no/few wild resources, considered as farmers.


PubMed | INRAP Mediterranee
Type: Historical Article | Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.) | Year: 2010

Pressure flaking has been considered to be an Upper Paleolithic innovation dating to ~20,000 years ago (20 ka). Replication experiments show that pressure flaking best explains the morphology of lithic artifacts recovered from the ~75-ka Middle Stone Age levels at Blombos Cave, South Africa. The technique was used during the final shaping of Still Bay bifacial points made on heat-treated silcrete. Application of this innovative technique allowed for a high degree of control during the detachment of individual flakes, resulting in thinner, narrower, and sharper tips on bifacial points. This technology may have been first invented and used sporadically in Africa before its later widespread adoption.

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