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2011-03-01 05:03:30   •   ID: 1096

Early Paleolithic from the Creuse Valley

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows three bifaces discovered during quarrying operations in the 19th century from the Creuse Valley, near the the Grand-Pressigny area, in the center of France.

Interestingly two specimens are bifacial Cleavers, a really rare implement in the European Paleolithic record.

Figure 2 shows two thick laminar flakes from the same site, one with a scraper retouch and the other with backing.

All these pieces have been produced from the typical and famous local flint formed during the Turonian period.

The Neolithic production at the Grand-Pressigny area was always in the in the focus of public interest, but Lower and Middle Paleolithic artifacts have also been reported since the 19th century.

Much of this material was discovered from La Sablière du Vivier, on the left bank of the Claise to Abilly and some exceptional pieces were published by de Mortillet as early as 1864.

Figure 2
The excavations were extended by Paul Fitte, during the 1950ies and recently a detailed study about this material was conducted by Aurelian Bruchet (Bruchet, 1999). Among numerous old quarry findings, another interesting site was detected at the Carrière de Ribault on the right bank of Creuse, just south of Descartes (Indre-et-Loire) also partially excavated by Paul Fitte in the 1950ies.

Unfortunately most of the Lower Paleolithic material comes from a secondary context and can not be securely dated. The debitage at these sites is usually non-Levallois and the handaxes are often thick without much sophistication.

It was therefore of great importance to excavate a datable site without the many biases that are inherent to old collections. Some years ago, during road construction work, the open-air site of La Grande Vallée has been explored and dated to ca. 500 k.a. by Geology and TL / ESR.

The excavators reported a well-established Acheulean, using different raw materials, among them large flint slabs from the Upper Turonian. The chaînes opératoires are diversified, suggesting that the makers of the lithic industry were already well established in the region.

Handaxes were produced by initial hard hammer techniques , but sometimes finished technique followed by soft hammer methods. The Debitage System includes uni- and bipolar cores for the production of flakes, which in part show a blade appearance, sometimes even intentionally backed and very similar to the Pieces shown in Figure 2.

Provenance-Ph. Cabey, Vienne