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2018-12-16 10:37:49   •   ID: 2059

At the Somme again: Saint-Sauveur - Middle Paleolithic from MIS 5d.

Figure 1
This is a heavily reworked Biface of MTA/MAT morphology found at Saint-Sauveur before 1930 by Dr. Bargues from Paris.

Paleolithic implements from Saint-Sauveur (Somme) in N- France, five km N/W from Amiens, have been recognized since the 1870ies and first described by Victor Commont.

Middle Paleolithic artifacts from Saint-Sauveur come from the youngest alluvial formation of the Somme Valley terrace system, the so called Etouvie Formation, which per se points to a recent Pleistocene age (last Interglacial / Glacial cycle).

The next alluvial formation, the low terrace complex appears to be older than the Last Interglacial (MIS 5) and is currently dated to MIS 7. Other terraces at the Somme-see here: 1306 and here: 1627 .

The intensive work of French researchers in N- France during the last 30 years, especially by Members of the INRAP, enabeled the establishment of a detailed pedostratigraphic and chronostratigraphic framework of MIS 5-2, that allows definitive dating of in-situ archeological horizons and the evaluation of relations between Palaeolithic occupation and environment (Locht et al. 2015; attached file).

Using this framework, takes into account specific superimposed loess and paleosol sequences. Their thickness varies from 5 to 40 m in Northern France and about 100 profiles have been evaluated en detail, many of them show the complete record of at least the last Interglacial and Glacial and others even a succession until MIS 11.

Figure 2
The middle Paleolithic of Saint-Sauveur was embedded during the the first cold stage after the Eemian interglacial (Herning stage I substage 5d).

Since the 1980s, thermoluminescence (TL), optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and infrared stimulated luminescence (IRSL) dating are available providing reliable ages (or age estimates) with an accuracy of up to 5 and 10% for the last glacial record.

More recently, luminescence dating has also become a robust dating technique for penultimate and antepenultimate glacial loess allowing for a reliable correlation of loess/paleosol sequences for at least the last two interglacial/glacial cycles in Northern France.

C-14 data become unreliable at sites >50-55 k.a. cal PB, even using the best preserved material , sophisticated pretreatment and calibrated AMS dating.

Beside TL, and ESR, other isotope techniques have become important in dating materials embedded together with Archeological artifacts.

U/Th dating of Saint-Sauveuris is in line with the stratigraphical observations: (95,5 ± 4 Ka : M. Laurent, 1993).

The richness of the Archaeological record and advanced dating methodologies, together with the density of sites, left by Neanderthal societies in N-France, allows the reconstruction of diversity of subsidence strategies, settlement patterns and lithic diversity, during short time slots of 1-5 k.a.- which is quite unique in European Middle Paleolithic research.