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2017-12-08 20:59:28   •   ID: 1695

Azilian Monopoint from the Roc d'Abeilles site

Figure 1
This is a delicate (4,2 cm long) very flat (within a sub millimeter range) Azilian Monopoint from the Roc d'Abeilles site, near Périgueux which was excavated by Champagne and Espitalié during the 1930ies with the limited techniques of their time. Anyhow the first investigations were already performed during  the 1920s, by Dr. Dupiellet, but we do not know nothing about his results. Champagne and Espitalié published their results very late in1970 (Champagne and Espitalié, 1970; pdf via persee).

Figure 2
During the last decennia the lithic material was almost completely dispersed by the Espitalié family.  The monopoint shown here, was once part of the collection and part of the published material. Two ensembles have been distinguished by the excavators: the lower strata, about 1 m thick very rich in findings  attributable to the Upper Magdalenian, showing a clear break with the overlying Azilian ensemble (thickness: ca 40 cm).

The upper ensemble showed an early Azilian with many Bipoints, ungiform scrapers, truncated and scaled large blades. However, the presence of a lot of monopoints and truncated-base (Malaurie-type) straight-backed points indicate that more than one stage of the Azilian was present, but not recognized by the excavators.

Another reference site for the Azilian in the greater Aquitaine is  the Rochereil cave (Grand-Brassac, Dordogne). A small part of the collection of Rochereil was excavated early between 1912 and 1921 by MM. Féaux and Fayolle, but the main part comes from  the excavations of Dr. Jude undertaken between 1937 and 1939 and published in 1960.

The stratigraphy includes late Magdalenian and Azilian levels. An overwhelming production of bone-tools, figurative art and abstract decoration are attested from the Magdalenian strata. The Azilian Layer III (Jude excavations) was subdivided into three sub-layers by the excavator by digging arbitrary levels (a-c).  In IIIa, the armatures  are dominated by bipoints associated with some monopoins with straight back without adjustment of the base. In level IIIb, curved-back monopoins are predominant, but some bipoints are still present. The bipoints disappear in level IIIc and are substituted by curved and straight monopoints, especially Maulerie points.

The study of fauna by G. Astre was carried out for the whole of layer III without taking subdivisions into account. Only a  list of hunted animals has been published which mentions the presence of wild boar, deer, roe deer and aurochs (as well as common beef, Bos taurus). The only quantitative indication concerns rabbit remains, described as being "extremely numerous".

Despite regional variation, the techno-typological analyses of other and better excavated Azilian assemblages from southwestern France on both sides of the Garonne allows the description of valid diachronic trends of Lateglacial societies very similar to the examples discussed in this post.

In general Early and late Azilian are followed by a very late Epipaleolithic, the Laborian. The long stratigraphic sequence of Pont d’Ambon, 2 km from Rochereil for example includes several layers attributed to the Magdalenian, Early Azilian, Late Azilian and Laborian. Recently renewed excavations at the Abri Murat, only a few km from Roc d'Abeilles confirmed the overall trend. A Phase with  Bipoints during the early Azilian is followed by Monopoints and a Phase with Maulerie points.

Backed Azilian points are interpreted as hunting weapons, replacing the multicomponent projectiles of the preceding Magdalenian. Ungiform Scrapers made from flakes and large blades with scalar retouche are present especially during the early phase of the Azilian. Overall the faunal spectrum of the early Azilian is characterized by Horse, while the less dense Late Azilian occupations are associated with a faunal assemblage dominated by rabbit and red deer.

The Laborian is characterised by several particular artefacts – backed points with truncated bases on small, very regular blades and tools on fairly regular blades – demonstrating a higher technical investment than is evident with the Late Azilian assemblage.

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