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2020-05-01 08:40:23   •   ID: 2175

Early Mesolithic Microliths from La Fère-en-Tardenois

Figure 1
These are typical triangular microlithic points from Fère-en-Tardenois, the Type-site of the French "Tardenoisian".

After C. J. Thomsen had in 1836 revived the idea of the Latin Philosopher Lucretius 99 BC – c. 55 BC) deviding Prehistory into the three ages of Stone, Bonze and Iron, there was only one Stone age, but when the discoveries of Boucher de Perthes had been recognized by the scientific community, John Evans in 1859 pointed out that this age must be divided into two, one in which the fauna was extinct and the material culture was made of chipped stone and a second in which the fauna was recent and polished tools appeared.

Later on, John Lubbock suggested that these two periods should be termed respectively the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages. It was soon noted, however, that these ages did not pass into one another, but that between them there was a "hiatus"

Subsequently, the term "Mesolithic" was created in the late nineteenth century from the need to label chipped stone ensembles of the early Holocene, that were characterized by Microliths and a postglacial fauna without evidence of domestication. The Mesolithic filled the gap between the Paleo- and Neolithic.
Figure 2

The Tardenoisian was first described by G. de Mortillet in 1896 and is a Mesolithic Technocomplex named after sites found in the environs of La Fère-en-Tardenois in northern France (department of Aisne).

It needed decades until the the Mesolithic was accepted as a topic of serious scientific engagement. Systematic work in France and Central Europe essentially began only after WW II. For Northern France the systematic evaluation of Mesolithic sites by J.-G. Rozoy (1972 et 1978) and J. Hinout (2002) remains essential.

A similar role played W. Taute (1934-1995) for the Definition of the Mesolithic ("Beuronian") in S/W-Germany. During his excavations of the Jägerhaus cave near Beuron on the upper Danube he succeeded for the first time in recording the early Mesolithic stages in a reliable sequence.

In the Scandinavian countries Mesolithic research remained always in the focus of Interest since JA Worsaae's (1821-1885) times
Figure 3

In Northern France the Mesolithic record is usually limited to excavations carried out in a sandy environment with secondary mixed ensembles or even to surface collections. This unfortunately also holds true to the many ensembles around La Fère-en-Tardenois.

Therefore ongoing research on non disturbed in-situ ensembles in the Somme basin which, beside a detailed stratigraphy, include also organic remains have provided a much more sophisticated picture of the Mesolithic in N-France. Regarding the Early Mesolithic of this region, reliable C-14 dates are now available:

The Mesolithic typochronology of northern France was examined by a series of radiocarbon dates obtained from sites with single occupations. Some difficulties still persist in dating the earliest stage and the Mesolithic characterised by trapezes.

Lithic assemblages characterised by points with unretouched base and some adzes or axes, typical of northern Europe, are dated between 9500 and 9300 BP.

Figure 4
Assemblages with numerous points with retouched base (Tardenoisian points or Horsham points; Beuronian ?) and crescents are dated between 9100 and 8600 BP.

Crescents are replaced by triangles around c. 8500 BP.

Assemblages with backed bladelets and mistletoe points appear around c. 8200 BP
(Ducrocq 2009).

Regarding these data, the points of the present post are at least 9100 and 8600 BP old, but it is important to note, that according to Erwin Cziesla ,isosceles triangles with dorso- ventral base-retouche-identical to the smaller point in this Post-were also present during the next 4000 years over a wide area of Germany, between the rivers Seine and Rhine, eastern France and the Low Countries until the Mesolithic / Neolithic boundary.