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2017-01-02 07:23:46   •   ID: 1559

Quina Mousterian in Central France and the Collections of François Reignoux

Figure 1
This are four Quina scrapers (two transversal, one bifacial and one convergent scraper) from the Grand Pressigny area found around 1930, by a local teacher, very similar to a large ensemble of the products of a classic Quina- Mousterian found by François Reignoux during the late 19th century / early 20th century, now named: Collection Reignoux

Figure 2 shows the two transversal scrapers refitted, coming from the same workpiece (according to the definition of Weissmüler). In Figure 3, the larger of these scrapers is digitally masked.

Since its discovery in 1953 by Fernand Berthouin and Gérard Cordier, L'Abri Reignoux has been a reference site for the Mousterian de la Touraine. However, its publication has always been preliminary and even today we have very little information on the rich lithic industry and the fauna found there.

Figure 2
It should be mentioned, that a large part of the series, is still kept in the home of one of the descendants of one of the excavators and still unavailable for study.

The 1953 drill holes, dug at the foot of the hill at the Champs Penais in the Brignon valley, aimed to find the shelter, where François Reignoux at the end of the 19th century had excavated several thousand Mousterian tools. It remains rather uncertain if the 1953 excavations really led to the rediscovery of Reignoux`s original site.  

Figure 2
The character of  the L'Abri Reignoux differs from the collection of Reignoux (more simple scrapers, transversal scrapers are much rarer).

Reignoux died in 1938 without ever revealing the exact provenance of his impressive findings.

According to a  letter of May 12, 1896, addressed to Gabriel de Mortillet, the whole collection came from a single deposit, a cave collapsed near Grand Pressigny. Almost certainly the find spot was a collapsed limestone shelter of the right bank of the Brignon.

The collection of Reignoux, now housed at the Musée Préhistoire Grand-Pressigny  (Indre et Loire; Touraine) is certainly biased versus nice and large retouched pieces. 98% of his collection (n=1010) consists of scrapers, similar to the four implements, shown above.

Beside transversal scrapers, up to 15 cm long dominating the series (n = 413), followed by simple (n = 165) and double (n = 77) sidescrapers, are present.

Convergent and déjeté scrapers are relatively common (n = 87).  Bifacial scrapers (n = 5) and scraper with a cortical back (n = 17) are rare. Scalariform retouche is common, especially on the tranversal scrapers.

Upper Turonian flint is the most prevalent raw material in the collection. Hard hammer production is prevalent. Several items are made from "first generation" cortical flakes.  Others show smoth, roughly facetet  or cortical platforms .

They are characterized by a certain morphological variability, essentially linked to their dimensions (from 50 to 150 mm length) and the selection of supports.

While it seems that in the Touraine and adjacent areas the Acheulean occupation was confined almost exclusively to the floodplains, we observe a diversification of sites, which were localized not only at the river banks but also at slopes, plateaus and sometimes caves and rock-shelters, during the Middle Paleolithic.

In these regions a Mousterian with bifacial artifacts (MTA) is known almost exclusively from open air sites, while Mousterian with or without Levallois affinities, mainly characterized by the occurrence of  large scrapers is exclusively found in caves and rock shelters along the valleys of the Brignon, Anglin, the Gartempe and the Vienne (e.g Abri des Roches d'Abilly).

The most ineteresting site is La Roche-Cotard site (I-IV)  located on the right side of the Loire valley, about 20 km down-river from Tours, where symbolic character productions of Neanderthals were claimed to have been found - more about the issue see here: Roche- Cotard Mask .

Suggested Reading:

Prehistoire en Touraine- see here- open source pdf written by Experts in their field:

Prehistoric Touraine