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2018-02-05 18:41:43   •   ID: 1718

The early Gravettian of Central France: La Vigne Brun

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows a 3, 5 cm (Micro) Gravette point from the Vigne Brun site, found at the site in large quantities (although mostly broken), and called: “Microgravette of Vigne-Brun type”.

The old C-14 dates from La Vigne Brun fall around 23 k.a. BP and are not taken as valid. Technologically and typologically the site shows a pattern that is characteristic for the early Gravettian in France and Southern Central Europe.

Calibrated C-14 dates will probably soon resolve the chronological confusion about this key locality.

La Vigne-Brun is located in the eastern Massif Central, 5 km upstream from Roanne in the Loire river valley. It is one of several open-air Palaeolithic sites at a locality called Saut-du-Perron (Villerest district).

Figure 2 shows another Microgravette from the site.

Other important sites nearby are Le Roche de la Caille, la Goutte-Roffat (a Magdalenian with 182 engraved schist plaquettes) and the Champ- Grand site (Quina Mousterian).

These sites have been explored for more than a hundred years and lamentably were flooded in 1983 following the construction of the Villerest dam. 

From 1977 to 1983 an area of 470 m² at La Vigne-Brun was investigated by J. Combier and, despite being the object of a salvage excavation, the site was fully excavated under relatively good conditions.

Figure 2
Vigne Brun is known in the archaeological literature principally for the discovery of a series of habitation structures associated with a Gravettian industry.

During the last years meticulous typological, technological and economic approaches were able to reconstruct the systems of lithic artefact manufacture at the site. 

Blades and raw lamellae from the gravettian deposit of Vigne Brun (Loire). The regularity of blades and Bladelets at La Vigne Brun indicates that the craftsmen who made them perfectly mastered complex production methods, the management of the various processes and operating procedures that were required as well as the control of specific technical gestures.

The diversity of dimensions responds to a wide range of activities carried out from these blades and lamellae which can be used alone, inserted in different holding devices (for example in a handle) or associated with other objects to achieve a composite tool.

Artifacts from the Site comprise dihedral burins, endscrapers and a large lot of projectiles (Font Robert points, Gravettes and Microgravettes).

The bladelet blanks used for the Microgravettes were obtained using three chaînes opératoires: one exclusively for bladelets, one incorporating small blades and bladelets and a third, uninterrupted sequence from large blades to small blades to bladelets.

Raw materials are largely dominated by a regionally available “jasper” flint. The predominant exogenous flint is a yellowish-grey to brown variety of excellent quality which was obtained from lower Turonian outcrops in the Gien region.

The procurement pattern of raw materials observed for unit KL19 at La Vigne-Brun does not particularly resemble the “classic” pattern observed at many Upper Palaeolithic sites, where there is a contrast between only slightly modified local materials and others transported as finished products from a distance.

Vigne-Brun procurement strategies are equally variable for both local material and that brought from further away.

Regional flint was imported to the site from a distance of 5 to 30 km either as blocks or as burins and Gravettes/ Microgravettes followed by splintered pieces and endscrapers.

Figure 3
The early Gravettian of Vigne Brun shows both technological and typological correspondence to other sites in France and the Swabian Jura: The open air site of Le Sire (Mirefleurs, Dpt. Puy-de-Dôme), was attributed to the early Gravettian, based on one uncalibrated date of 27,300 +/- 330 BP.

Here, beside an important proportion of Microgravettes (36% of the tools), some Font-Robert Points and Flechettes are also present.

The lower Gravettian lithic ensemble of the open-air site Azé-Camping de Rizerolles(Saône-et-Loire, France)  is composed of over 48.000 pieces, among them Gravette points, Microgravettes, Nanogravettes and the fragment of two Font- Robert points.

In the Swabian Ach valley (Geißenklösterle and Hohle Fels) we also find an early Gravettian (29-27 k.a. BP) focused on the production of Microgravettes with some Flechettes and isolated Font-Robert points.

Figure 3: Lac de villerest-near the submerged site

Suggested Readings:

A wonderful site to download free PDFs of Monographs from the "Collection les Mémoires de la SPF"

For this post Monograph 50 is of great interest: À la recherche des identités gravettiennes : actualités, questionnements et perspectives.

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