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2016-06-16 03:12:28   •   ID: 1348

Gravettian with Noailles Burins from the Fourneau du Diable Site

Figure 1
These are typical Noailles Burins from the Fourneau du Diable Site in the Dordogne. The upper paleolithic with Noailles Burins (Noaillian of Nicholas David or Périgordien Vc of Denis Peyrony at La Ferrassie) is considered to be an integral part of the Gravettian technocomplex during the Tursac-oscillation, although backed pieces are uncommon in "Noaillian" ensembles.

An attempt to isolate the Noailles burins from the truncated and burins on beak was attempted by F. Djindjan on 359 burins from levels 10-11 of the Factor shelter (Dordogne).

The differentiation between the types is not well defined. The author proposes the following determination key:

1) if the burin has a fine stopping notch, the burin is of the "Noailles burin" type.

2) if the burin has no stopping notch, it is of the "Noailles burin" type if the width of the negative of the removal (constant over the whole length) does not exceed 2.3 mm (Djindjan, 1977a, p. 154).

Traces of an early Gravettian and a Noaillien / Rayssian were selectively found in the lower terrace of the Fourneau du Diable Site which is more famous for its Solutrean findings, mainly from the Upper Terrace and the Solutrean Bas relief carvings of aurochs (Vignoles et al. 2019).

The Noaillian is concentrated in S/W-France, especially in the larger Aquitaine, Pyrenees, Charente, Lot/Tarn et Garonne, and the Brive vicinity.

There are also sites in the Provence and at the Tyrrhenian coast in Italy. The Noailles burin is a small and even microlitic angle burin on retouched truncation, often multiple, and with thin removals stopped by notches.

The burin is named after the Cave of Noailles in the Correze, first “excavated” in 1900 by Bardon and Bouyssonie just within a week. The Noaillian is characterized by a high percentage of typical burins and a low frequency of backed pieces.

Functional studies on Noailles burins are rare. There is an ongoing debate if the Noaillian represents:

  •  an evolutionary stage

  • a specific ethnic Group (the “Noaillians”)

  • a particular activity-facies within the Gravettian technocomplex

Figure 2
At the Noaillian settlement of Bilancino, dated about 25.k.a BP, archaeological documentation, chemical analysis and microtraceology, reconcile to a functional interpretation of Noaillian burins.

This site was a seasonal camp for the harvesting and the processing of rushes (Typha) and grasses (Gramineae). The excavations revealed that these wild plants were processed by a grinder and a grindstone to flour. Bilancino is one of the earliest examples for this technique during the upper Paleolithic so far.

If Noailles Burins were selectively used for processing plants is unknow, but rather improbable regarding the multifunctional use of many other upper paleolithic tools.

I would propose to evaluate the use of Noailles burins as components of projectile points. During the last years we have seen astonishing new views on the functionality of tools, that were for more of 100 yrs. thought to be something else but never ever parts of hunting equipments:

A good example are microlithic saws, that may have used as barbed elements in multicomponent projectile points

Another example from W-Europe: Recently Rots reported about direct evidence, that Microgravettes were used as lithic barbs of a bone point at the Gravettian site of Les Prés de Laure (Var, France), dated to 23,5-25 k.a. cal BP (Rots et. al. 2018).

Figure 3
During Peyronies time the landscape around Fourneau du Diable was not overgrown with trees and bushes as today. Therefore I show in Figure 3 an old postcard, which shows the topography of the site better than today.

Suggested Reading.

P. Laurent:. Types d'outils lithiques du paléolithique supérieur en Europe; 1995

Peyrony D: The prehistoric sites of Bourdeilles (Dordogne), Archives of Human Paleontology Institute; 1932

M. Otte (Ed) : Les Gravettiens; 2013

Provenance: Collection P. Fitte