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2020-06-06 16:16:15   •   ID: 2183

A twisted Handaxe / Core from the Aube Region in France

Figure 1a
Figure 1b
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Figure 4
This is a asymmetrical twisted cordiform Biface (11x6x0,5-2,5 cm) , made from high quality flint, most probably belonging to the MTA tradition.

It was found near Planty in N/E-France. Further examples of twisted Handaxes during the Paleolithic and possible explanations for their special Design can be found in this Blog here: 1509 and here 2080 .

Interestingly, the Biface was secondary used as a core, as seen in Figure 1b, where a thin flake, about 4,5 cm long was finally detached from the artifact.

MTA-Bifaces are usually seen as curated tools that were often transported over large distances. From the "classic" MTA in S/W-France it is well known that Bifaces served both as versatile and multifunctional instruments and as cores - the signature of a highly mobile lifestyle of Neanderthals moving in an unpredictable and potentially dangerous landscape.

Today Planty is a small town with 242 inhabitants (2017), situated in the Department Aube in the region Grand Est (until 2016 called: Champagne-Ardenne).

The nearby Vanne river is an important right tributary of the Yonne river, which is itself a tributary of the Seine - certainly an important landmark during Prehistoric times.

Along the Yonne, rich Lower and Weichselian Middle Paleolithic findings, sometimes with a clear MTA and KMG-aspect, have been documented and already described in Aggsbachs Blog: here 1172 and here 2179 .

Large scale excavations in the Vanne Valley revealed several extensive Weichselian Pleniglacial [MIS 4] sites (for example: Lailly Beauregard, Villeneuve- l’Archevêque, see: Depaepe 2007)

Here operational sequences were Levallois based with rare Bifaces of Middle Paleolithic morphology.

The region around Planty is an area rich of homogeneous flint of excellent quality, used since the Middle Paleolithic until the Neolithic. Several Neolithic mining production sites were present and studied by the INRAP during the construction of the autoroute A5, especially at Villemaur-sur-Vanne, about 10 km South of Planty.

The most important Early and Middle Paleolithic site in the Aube Region is Vallentigny, about 70 km East of Planty, where a large profile, that was opened during quarrying operations, was accessible for Prehistoric research during the second half of the last century (see R. Tomasson et al. 1963).

Despite marked cryoturbation phenomena, the Excavators discovered stratified ensembles in place, some accompanied by mammal bones, giving one important benchmark for the chronology of the terminal Middle Pleistocene and the Upper Pleistocene of the sector.

Geochronical observations of the terrace architecture of the Aube that were recently made at Brienne-le-Château and Bar-Sur-Aube, about 70 km east of Planty and nearby Vallentigny, are also helpful for the understanding of the Archaeological record.

Four stepped fluvial terraces along the Aube River Valley have been dated using the Electron Spin Resonance (ESR) method applied on optically bleached quartz.

The obtained chronology indicates that the deposition of the terraces system was initiated during the Middle Pleistocene, i.e. later that in other valleys of Parisian Basin area (Cher, Creuse, Somme), in which the oldest fluvial sheets are coeval of Lower Pleistocene times.

This pattern raises the question of the preservation of the alluvial sheets, of the Aube river course at that time or even of its existence.

On the other hand, the evolution of the system follows the general model proposed for several rivers of the northern Parisian Basin (Seine, Somme, Yonne), each sheet corresponding to the depositional balance of a Glacial/Interglacial cycle
(Voinchet et al. 2015).

While deposits of the 50m terrace are about 600 k.a.old, the lower terraces are dated to the Middle Pleistocene (Fy-b; ca 300 k.a. BP; Fy-b ca 165 k.a. The lower terrace has a late MIS6 and MIS5 age).

At Valentigney, during excavations carried out in an operating quarry (Miskovsky, 1963; Tomasson & Tomasson, 1963), alluvial deposits have delivered an industry from the Lower Paleolithic and remains of horse and woolly rhinoceros, attributed by Guérin to a “Rissian” form (cited by Tomasson, 1996).

These alluviums, according to their altitude, can be matched with the Fx-b deposits and are therefore 300 k.a. old. These layers layer are characterized by elongated, mainly cordiform Acheulian Bifaces (see attached files).

The sequence of colluvial and sometimes pedogenised silty cover deposits covering the alluviums of the Vallentigny site has delivered a Mousterian industry, with cordiform Bifaces and a fauna including aurochs and mammoth (Tomasson, 1996). The Lithics, according to the ESR measurements are from MIS5 or even younger.

Therefore we can assign the twisted cordiform Handaxe of this post to the Middle Paleolithic with bifacial Handaxes (or MTA) of MIS5-3 age, well known from the local context-for example from Moussey (Aube; distance: 40 km), Congy (Marne; distance: 70 km) or even the iconographic MIS3 "Atelier" de Bifaces of Saint-Amand-les-Eaux (Nord, distance ca 270 km).

Provenience: Collection Weber (FR)