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2019-03-28 07:45:18   •   ID: 2090

Carinated Tool from Laussel / Dordogne

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Figure 1 -3 : This is a classic carinated tool from the famous Laussel Rock shelter near Les Eyzies.

Similar Examples can be found in the classic publication: Lalanne, J., Bouyssonie J., 1946: Le gisement paléolithique de Laussel. Fouilles du Dr Lalanne, L'Anthropologie, t. 50, pp 1-163 (Figure 5 and 6).

The Aurignacian is defined by specific and specialized operational sequences that were responsible for the production of bladelets with different forms of what we normally classify as cores.

Sonneville-Bordes and Perrot in the early 50’s (Sonneville-Bordes and Perrot 1954-1956) defined a carinated scraper as an “... end-scraper made on a thick flake having the profile of an inverted keel; the scraper front is made by lamellar retouch which may be wide and short or narrow and long".

Some are “carinated scrapers” or “nosed scrapers” on thick flakes served for bladelet production, as evidenced by refitting analyses. The bladelets from Laussel have not survived, probably a consequence of the low-quality excavations.

Hence, it seems that the aim of the artisans was to obtain short, curved and twisted bladelets, which in part were later retouched to become the Dufour bladelets of different subtypes.

At the same time there were also regular carinated and nosed scrapers, where the front is shaped through flaking of shorter mini-flakes.

Microtraceology is currently the only method to proof their use as genuine scraping tools.

The Laussel Rockshelter is a huge rock shelter, 115 m long and 15-25 m deep is situated 7, 5 km east and slightly north of Les Eyzies, on the right side of the Beune River 500 m upstream from the Chateau de Laussel.

First small excavations began during the last years of the 19th century (E. Rivière in 1894, H. Breuil L. Capitan et E. Peyrony in 1903).

Finally the site was completely excavated during large scale exploitations which were executed during 1908-1914 by the workmen of Dr. Jean-Gaston Lalanne. After the death Dr. Lalanne, the site was published by J Bouyssonie. In this publication with wonderful drawings of the artifacts a exceptional long stratigraphy is described:

  • Mousterian with Bifaces
  • Mousterian without Bifaces: several strata
  • Mousterian with Bifaces
  • Châtelperronien: Figure 4
  • Aurignacian: Figure 5 and 6
  • Gravettian
  • Solutrean


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The diggings were of low quality but the publication is wonderfully illustrated (Figure 4-6).

The lower Mousterian exhibits a Mousterian with cordiform, elongated cordiform and amygdaloid Bifaces, many of them are heavily reworked.

The same holds true for the scrapers (single, double, dejete) often with Quina retouche. Levallois products are absent.

If this ensemble really comes from one stratum it is certainly not a typical MTA. The many reworked pieces may indicate that the Rock-shelter was a base / aggregation camp.

The younger Mousterian strata seem to represent a homogeneous industry, characterized by scrapers (75% of the ensemble). These scrapers are single, transversal, double, limaces and dejete. Quina retoche and reworking is common. The discoidal technique is attested, while Levallois products are missing.

This is followed by several Mousterian strata, one with many denticulated pieces and a Mousterian at the top of the sequence with typical MTA Bifaces.

The Châtelperronian is classic with a high diversity of points, some of them have rather the appearance of large lunates, others could be confused with Gravettian points (Figure 4; the mixing of Chatelperonnian points with typical Aurignacian tools gives you an opportunity to consider the quality of the diggings).

The Aurignacian is a typical early Aurignacian with carinated pieces, large retouched blades, large strangulated blades and simple endscrapers with lateral retouches.

The Laussel Rock shelter was one of the sites near Eyzies, that were visited on 15.04.1908 by H. Breuil, E. Cartailhac, F. Delage, A. Fayolle, M. Loving, D. Peyrony and P. Raymond, to resolve the stratigraphic position of the Aurignacian during the famous “Aurignacian Battle” contra the adherents of G. Mortillet

The Gravettian is a Mixture of Flechettes, (Micro)-Gravettes (more than 1000 examples), Font-Robert-Points and Noailles Burins. The famous sculptures were discovered in this «level» during 1911. More about the "Venus" issue at Laussel see here 1418 . Certainly, the lithic material represents an early Gravettian but also later stages (for example a “Noaillian”).

The Solutrean is also mixed with early points a face plane, and younger forms, especially points a cran.

If Laussel would have been protected like Abri Pataud and properly excavated - we certainly would know a lot more about the Paleolithic at Les Eyzies. The diggings were "successful"-the Rock-shelter was left completely emptied (Figure 7)