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2016-06-16 03:09:49   •   ID: 1292

La Micoque: A Handaxe from Level 6 (N)

Figure 1
This is a handaxe from La Micoque N, displaying the typical “trifacial concept” of the “faconnage micoquien”.

It was made from local flint, now strongly weathered and fragile, typical for the site and one reason, that undamaged tools are rare from La Micoque.

This tool was most probably acquired from the former collection of Emil Riviere. Artifacts from several famous Paleolithic sites, including specimens from La Micoque, which were in E. Riviere’s possession at the time of his death, and were sold by his two sons during an auction in 1922, at the Hotel Drouot in Paris-see: 1689 and external links. 

Many of these lithics were originally sold to collectors and universities in the US, who could raise funds unlike the Europeans after WW 1.

La Micoque is located on the left side of Le Manaurie valley, 500 m from its confluence with the Vézère. The Micoque archaeological deposit, which is nearly 10 m high, is one of the oldest sites in the Vézère Valley.

Figure 2 shows the remnants of the site. There is only a handful of sites of similar age (300 k.a) in the greater Aquitaine: Vaufrey XI à XII, Coudoulous c.5 à 8, Les Bosses and Petit-Bost.

La Micoque has been discovered in 1895 and excavated since 1896 by G. Chauvet and R. Rivière. Numerous researchers have been working there until the Swiss citizen Otto Hauser rent the ground, among many others in the Vezere Valley in 1907.

Figure 2
After his expulsion from France in 1914, the site remained unprotected and was destroyed by “hobby amateurs”. Serious investigations began only in 1929, after D. Peyrony had bought the site for the state, but to that time the uppermost layer N with the spectacular handaxes and the “Micoquian Industry” had been already completely destroyed.

Between 1929 à 1932 D. Peyrony identified 15 strata with six archaeological layers (embedded in sedimentary units A,C,E,H,J,N). F. Bordes started a small excavation in 1956 and an interdisciplinary research using modern techniques began in 1983 program (Rigaud 1984; Debénath and Rigaud 1986).

The age of the Micoquian from layer N is unknown. It could be well 300 k.a. old.  The ensemble consists of many bifaces - either made by a trifacial, Plano-convex or a biconvex concept.

Typologically in Layer N, we notice Cordiform, Lanceolated, Backed (Bockstein knifes) and Biconcave (Micoquian style) Handaxes.

The Debitage is non-Levallois and retouched tools consist of scrapers, denticulates and borer like instruments.   

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