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2019-03-15 12:01:37   •   ID: 2084

A Flèche de Montclus from the Languedoc

Figure 1
This is a trapezoid with unilateral facial retouch (1,6 cm long), a surface find from the Languedoc, known as “Flèche de Montclus”, named after the Montclus rock-shelter, 20 km NW of Bagnols-sur-Ceze, Gard.

Excavated mainly during the 1950ies, this abri remains a key site for the Mesolithic and Neolithic and Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in S-France.

Unfortunately there are diverse stratigraphical and chronological problems encountered with the old excavations at the site and we will never know for sure if the “Epi-Castelnovian” strata (Microliths and indications for pottery), where these projectile points were found, represent the Meso-Neolithic transition or just a mix between late Mesolithic and Neolithic strata.

Old excavations and disturbed contexts led to a vivid discussion if the Flèche de Montclus is a "fossile directeur” for the late Mesolithic in Southern France France or in contrast highly characteristic for early Neolithic communities in this area. On the basis of available data the latter proposal has gained ground during the last years.

The beginnings of Neolithic lifeways in the western Mediterranean region date back to 5700 cal BC. It is believed that this development is a consequence of an expansion of early Neolithic groups from northern Italy to southern France.

Existence of these scarcely documented Impressa groups is dated between 5700 and 5600 cal BC.

Sometime later, about 5400 cal BC, a new archaeological culture appeared: the Cardial culture, which is thus far the best-documented early Neolithic culture in the western Mediterranean region.

Figure 2
The Cardial culture had a well-developed production economy that included foraging (cattle, sheep/goat, and pig) and farming (mainly emmer and einkorn wheat). The impressed decoration executed before firing the vessels obtained with the edge of a Cardium shell and the applied cordons are the most characteristic elements of this culture, which is attested from the Southern Alps to Iberian Peninsula.

At about the same time, Neolithic lifeways spread to the hinterland. This continental Neolithisation is mainly related to cultures other than the Cardial culture.

Another interesting model is based on the similarity of Flèches de Montclus and the so called Armatures du Châtelet (5600-5200 BC), trapezoids with a bilateral facial retouch, known from the final Mesolithic (Retzien) of the Loire-Atlantique and Vendée.

Figure 3
Here the use of facial retouch on trapezoids could indicate the early influence of already established Neolithic societies in the South on Mesolithic communities more in the North-West.

The last photo comes from an excursion guide from 1976, in part identical with the corresponding parts of the “ La Préhistoire française”. Here the Flèches de Montclus were displayed as a part of the “Epi-Castelnovian” culture at the Baume de Montclus Rockshelter.