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2018-10-22 07:15:05   •   ID: 2045

Quina production from Le Roc de Marsal in the Dordogne

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These are three artifacts from Roc de Marsal Cave: Nr. 1 is a convergent scraper with steep and scalariform retouch, the second artifact is a small transversal scraper with Quina retouche and the third a non-Levallois flat triangular flake with continuous retouches on all sides.

The tools are made from local raw materials and alluvial pebbles. They are good examples for the Quina technique in the Dordogne.

The Quina Method is a Non-hierarchical recurrent exploitation of two surfaces intersecting at a low angle. Two methods of Quina production: débitage en tranche de saucisson, and a second more complex unnamed variant have been described.

The Quina flaking system produces thick and often cortical blanks with an asymmetrical cross-section, or flakes with a cortical, dihedral asymmetric, or with a ‘lisse à pans’ (smooth faceted) butt.

The Quina system is characterized by particular processes of tool retouching, resharpening and recycling.

Roc de Marsal is a small cave, is situated in the Dordogne, SW France, about 6 km southwest of the village of Les Eyzies in a small tributary of the Vezere Valley.

First excavations were made by Jean Lafille, an amateur archaeologist, during the early 1960ies, who also found the famous Neanderthal child in 1961 and immediately informed F. Bordes and H. Movius. The human remains were removed as a complete block of sediment encompassing the child remains and later analyzed in the Institute de Paléontologie Humaine in Paris.

During recent excavations, 13 distinct strata have been identified. Layers 9 - 2 are Late Pleistocene in age and contain significant concentrations of Middle Paleolithic remains:

Layers 9 through 7 have TL-dates around MIS 4 and are characterized by Levallois products. Retouches are rare. They are also characterized by well preserved combustion features. F. Bordes earlier designed these layers as denticulated and typical Mousterian.

Layer 7 shows a diminutive Levallois Chaîne opératoire (Asinipodian, first identified by F. Bordes at Pech de l'Aze IV).

The upper part of the sequence (Layers 4-2), dated to late MIS 4 and MIS 3 is characterized by Quina lithic technology (both in terms of technology and typology) with faunal remains that are strongly dominated by hunted reindeer. Horse is the second most frequent hunted species.

The faunal remains are typical for Quina assemblages from Southwest of France, especially those from MIS4. According to data from other Quina assemblages, it seems that reindeer was selectively hunted by Neanderthals for example at Roc-de-Marsal and Les Pradelles.

Whether Neanderthals buried their dead is heavily debated. The three years old Neanderthal child from Roc de Marsal (RdM 1; ESR date around 85 k.a.) was found almost complete and articulated, but there is no further evidence for a deliberate burial. The late H. Dibble, who made the last excavation of the site since 2004 stated:

On the weight of the available evidence, we suggest that the Roc de Marsal infant be removed from the list of accepted examples of intentional Neandertal burials. The artifacts that were found in association with the burial are in no way distinct from other artifacts found in the Lower levels of the site and the same is is true of the faunal remains.

The position of the body itself on its ventral surface, with its legs lightly flexed beint the back also does not immediately suggest any special treatment. The fact that the body was found in a cavity once represented the strongest argument in-favor of such a ritualistic interpretation, but the new excavations indicate that this depression is almost certainly of natural origin.

These facts, including the overall lack of any unique or out-of-the-ordinary circumstances surrounding the body, do not support the notion that it represents an intentional burial

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