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2017-06-05 12:10:07   •   ID: 1607

Point a face plane Type A after Smith from Laugerie-Haute

Figure 1
This is a point a face plane Type A after P. Smith (1966) found in Protosolutrean layers at the large Rock -shelter of Laugerie-Haute, on the right bank of the Vezere in Dordogne. 

The Solutrean techno-complex emerges and is geographically confined to Southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula, and occurring within c. 22–19 ka cal BP, that roughly matches the course of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and Heinrich Event 2 - a discharge of ice-meltwater into the North Atlantic, with cooling effects on European temperature.

Figure 2
Points a face plane are a group of very diversified artifacts.

Some appeared not only during the Protosolutrean but were also present during the later stages of the techno-complex.

Type A: Nearly or fully symmetrical, pointed on both ends, or on only on one end, the other can be occasionally rounded. The upper face covered with flat retouches. Lower face completely plain or retouched over limited part of its surface.

Type B: The most typical pointes at Laugerie : teardrop shaped or dejete usually to the right. Much of the upper face retouched along the left side of the median ridge. Occasionally the upper face is entierly retouched. Bulb at the base may have been removed  by retouches. 

Type C: "Chatelperron- like", slightly curved and made on a long blade. The retouches  are concentrated on one side of the median spine of the upper face. Bulb at the base may have been removed  by retouches. 

Type D : Broad and heavy made on a flake with flat retouche covering the upper face and parts of the lower face. "Mousterian-like" and found throughout the Solutrean and not only in the earlier phases. Type-site: Badegoule

Type E: essentially only pointed blades. Single or double tipped. Flat terouche concentrated around the tip. 

Techno-typologically the Solutrean  represents a clear disruption from the previous pan-European techno-complexes and seems to contest  an evolution towards more  specialized hunting weapons that represent the adaptation of human groups to the rigorous climaticd context of the LGM. 

At Laugerie-Haute, which is seen as “the central pillar of the reconstitution of the French Solutrean” (Smith 1966) all the fauna associated with the Solutrean characterizes a generally cold and dry climate.

According to Smith (1966) the Solutrean is divisible into the Protosolutrean, Lower Solutrean, Middle Solutrean, Upper Solutrean and Final Solutrean.

The Lower Solutrean features unifacial points, while the Middle Solutrean is characterized by laurel leaf points . The Upper Solutrean sees shouldered points and willow leaf points, some potentially too fine to have been used for practical purposes.

The Protosolutrean in known from very few sites in Southwest France, Laugerie Haute, Abri Casserole, and recently the site of Marseillon has been added to the list  albeit sharing more characteristics of the Protosolutrean as it is known in Iberia (Vale Comprido, Peña Capón, Calvaria 2, Portela 2) than with the French Solutrean.

The lithic technology of Marseillon has been used to support evolution of the the Solutrean from the Gravettian, in contrast to the traditional view of the Solutrean representing a full break from the preceding phase.

According to this hypothesis of evolution between the industries, the transition occurs across the entire Solutrean region, with a great deal of interaction between France and Iberia and with much long-distance exchange occurring.

In this view the Protosolutrean is seen as a transitional industry between the Gravettian and the Solutrean. The early phase of this techno-complex seems to be characterized by the "Vale Comprido" point.

Laugerie-Haute,was discovered by E. Lartet and H. Christy in 1862 and recorded by them as a palaeolithic site. Since its discovery it  has since been explored in part from time to time by archaeologists, and was "under excavation" by H. Hauser when WW I broke out in 1914.

It was acquired by the State on Hauser’s conviction of espionage. In 1921, Denis Peyrony began the systematic excavation of the shelter. It had never previously been examined below the Solutrean and Magdalenian levels. The investigations were carried on at intervals over a period of years, the excavation being completed in 1935. The last four years were devoted to the east end of the shelter, which had not been excavated before.

Figure 3
Figure 3 shows a Panoramaview of Laugerie-haute from the wonderful "Don`s map".

According to D. and E. Peyrony (1938) the east side (Laugerie Est) was occupied continuously from the late Gravettian to the Solutrean until the Late Magdalenian. They observed the following stratigraphy: Level B B’ F H H’ H” I I” I”” J K ("Perigordien" VI and VII/Protomagdalenian, Lower Solutrean, Middle Solutrean, Upper Solutrean, Badegoulian, Magdalenian III, Magdalenian V).

In contrast the West Side, Laugerie Haute Ouest / East lacks any Magdalenian levels but has a well-developed Solutrean sequence instead. The stratigraphy has described by the Peyronies as follows: Level B D G H’ H” H”’ (Gravettian,  "Aurignacian V", Protosolutrean, Lower Solutrean, Middle Solutrean, Upper Solutrean).

F. Bordes and D Smith re excavated the site during the late 50ies / early 60ies with much more sophisticated excavation techniques. At the east of the site, for example, Peyrony’s 13 excavation complexes (layers A to K) correspond to 42 complexes from Bordes’ excavation.

Further analysis of the collections, which derive from the excavations of Bordes and Smith at the both sides of the shelter (east and west) shows that the both stratigraphics are different. They don't date of the same time and there are gaps in the sedimentation. The reevaluation of the data showed that:

  • The Laugerie-Haute stratigraphy and consequently the Solutrean chronology are more complex than those previously known. During the Solutrean, Laugerie-Haute was inhabited by a group who did not occupy the whole rockshelter. As the others Upper Paleolithic living groups, they travelled through a limited territory of the northern Aquitaine.

  • The study of raw material shows the prevaling exploitation of the local Senonian flint, especially those of the alluvial deposits of the river Vézère. These choices depend of the flintworking techniques weakly laminar. The laurel leaves are mainly fashioned in the Senonian brown flint. Exotic flints are also represented (Bergeracois and Fumélois flint, flint from the Hettangian of the Corrèze, Cenozoïc flint from the left bank of the Dordogne). They were notably used for unifacial point manufacture. The point shown here was made from a brown Cenozoïc flint, now heavily patinated.

  • the Aurignacian V level overlies the Protomagdalenian (Perigordian 7) level and not the other way round.. It is characterized by carinated and nosed elements and may represent a final Gravettian or an epi- Aurignacian.

  • It is not easy to establish the limits between the Solutrean complexes (Lower, Middle or Upper Solutrean), nor between the east and the west of the shelter.

  • several strata appeared to be mixed and disintegrated especially the Solutrean strata at the west end. Chronological studies should concentrate at the east side, rather than at the west of the site.

Provenance: J. Vanderkeulen (BE)