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2014-03-10 10:30:16   •   ID: 1134

The Neronian in the Rhone Valley

Figure 1
These pictures show ventral and dorsal views of a Neronian point with convergent inverse retouch.

The Middle and Early Upper Palaeolithic record of Europe during the middle and late OI3 (50-35 k.a. BP) is complex, showing diverse local entities, some with Upper Paleolithic features like the Castelperonnien of S/W France, the Bohunician around Brno  and diverse “leaf point industries”. In the Rhone Valley a local industry, named the “Neronian” was first recognized by Jean Combier in 1967.

Figure 2
The Neronian is characterized by the production by points and Micro Points of Levallois Morphology but also of blades and bladelets, inversely retouched  into retouched artifacts.

At the Abri Maras, Combier found within a Middle Paleolithic sequence, a gradual increase in the number of Levallois points with a semi-abrupt inverse retouch in the upper layers. These points are known as “Soyons Points” and are an exclusive “fossile directeur” of the Neronian, not found in any other Paleolithic entity in Europe. Similar findings are known from  the Abri Moula, the Grotte de Néron and the Grotte du Figuier.

At the Grotte Mandrin, Slimak found the Neronian located at the base of the sequence underneath five Mousterian layers followed by a Protoaurignacian layer. This excavation showed that the Neronian is not the latest Middle Palaeolithic in the Rhone region and the appearance of the Upper Palaeolithic in Southern France is not a simple linear process. In general the Neronian used high quality raw materials and exploited larger territories than the post-Neronian Middle Palaeolithic groups or the Protoaurignacien that followed.

This  indicates a different social organisation and different lifestyles of these makers of these entities. Some researchers suggest, that the Neronian developed from the local Charentian in the Rhone Valley, a proposal I do not really understand.

During this process, flakes were gradually replaced by the production of blades and points. This evolution was recognized in two stratigraphic sequences: Maras 3 to 10 and Neron 3 to 1.

Interestingly Soyons Points are known in small numbers from the Levallois-Mousterian of the Levant, at a distance of 4000 km to the lower Rhone, representing a convergence phenomenon, in tool production, maybe used for specialised tasks.

Provenance: Levenstein Family Collection ISR