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2018-12-06 10:02:31   •   ID: 2056

The Châtelperronian North of the Loire Valley

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This is a 6,1 cm long backed, white patinated, blade found during the late 19th century in the Paris vicinity.

It has a continuous back and the contralateral margin shows some secondary damage, maybe by periglacial weathering. The base shows the typical stigmata of soft hammer technique. Undoubtedly the artifact is a finished tool and not a preform.

It does not resemble an Azilian Mono-point, nor is it a typical Gravettian point. Backed artifacts of this kind are rare during the local Neolithic.

I always hesitated to call it a Châtelperronian point, but this designation fits best, although it was found far away from the "heartland" of this technocomplex is S/W-France- see here 1492 .

After the first publications of the Findings at Les Bossats à Ormesson (Seine-et-Marne), this label does not appear ridiculous anymore and therefore this post is about the Châtelperronian North of the Loire valley.

Les Bossats site at Ormesson, is under excavation since 2009. The stratigraphy starts with a late Discoidal Mousterian followed by a Chatelperonnian and and a Gravettian bison processing camp. An evolved Solutrean and traces of a Badegoulian are on the top of the Long succession.

Topographic considerations support the hypothesis, that the site offered optimal hunting conditions and gave access not only to animal resources but also to raw materials and fresh water. The attractivity of the area is evidenced by repeated settlements during ca 30 k.a.

The Châtelperronian is nearly intact as demonstrated by taphonomic analysis and multiple refitting of the lithic debitage. It seems that the area was rapidly covered and preserved by fine grained sediments.

According to first results it may about 38 k.a. old.

Finished tools comprise the diagnostic points and some burins. Endscrapers are absent from the limited sondages, maybe an excavation bias or an activity-specific trait. The chaine operatoire is clearly focused on the production of blades and bladelets- a pure Upper Paleolithic Ensemble.

According to Bodu et al. "In spite of a certain geographical isolation, les Bossats are nonetheless part of a “northern” Châtelperronian territory which includes the famous Renne at Arcy-sur-Cure or Roche-au-Loup at Merry-sur-Yonne (Yonne) caves".

The excavators finally argue that "the apparent scarcity in Châtelperronian sites north of the Loire River, which is perhaps more related to the actual state of research rather than to a real lack of occupations".

Indeed, Archeology has always only found what it was looking for. If you never look for Keilmesser outside Central Europe, you will probably not recognize them, if they were found in other parts of Europe.

And maybe backed artifacts not resembling Gravette Points, that were found in Northern France, were always classified as Azilian, because nobody since François Bordes` times took into account, that they could be a "Perigordian ancien".

Note that there is no systematic work that compares the morphology of Gravette, Châtelperronian and Late Paleolithic backed points, although it is well known, that these tools can easily misclassified. Such work would be useful in classifying old collections- lost in forgotten Museum-boxes.