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2021-10-01 09:42:38   •   ID: 2272

Handaxe from La Micoque with a Tranchet Blow

Figure 1
This is a Biface from La Micoque, found early in the 20th Century. Like most of the handaxes from the upper layers of the site, it is relatively small in size (10x5.5x3cm), heavily patinated and fragile

Unlike the "typical" Bifaces from La Micoque, it is not made according to a trifacial concept- see 1292 . It resembles an biconvex French Handaxe from the Middle Pleistocene.

The La Micoque site is located not far from the village of Les Eyzies on the Vézère River in the Dordogne, France. It was named after an old abandoned farm which included the site. La Micoque is located on the southeastern slope, about 30m above the valley floor of the small Manaurie river, a tributary of the Vézère The deposits are located between about 85 and 70m a.s.l..

More about its complicated History can be found here: 1292 and 1689 .

Interestingly this handaxe is characterized by a "Coup de Tranchet"(Figure 1), well known from the West European Acheulian-see for example: 1736 and 1534 .

This trait is by no means exclusively a characteristic of the Central European Micoquian (or the so called KMG- Group) but also known from the Acheulo-Yabrudian of the Levant and Handaxes from the Oases in Western Egypt.

Figure 2
The designation of the Geological and Archaeological strata of La Micoque is still based on the nomenclature of Peyrony, after 100 years still used, even during the last excavations, which began during the 1980ies.

A 10 m high witness block is still preserved at the site. The Geological strata are named from bottom to top by the letters A-N. Several layers contain Archeological Material and others are Archeological sterile. In toto 6 Archeological ensembles have been individualized.

-A. The first Geological layer is about 140 cm thick with some undiagnostic artifacts (Archaeological Ensemble 1)

-B. This Geological layer consists of large and small limestone rubble, maybe from the collapse of a rock-shelter and is archaeological sterile

-C. Bedded gravels with calcareous elements on the top. This ensemble consists of three subunits. The middle one exhibits an archaeological level (Archaeological Ensemble 2). It is 60 cm thick, and is fully covered by Layer D.

-D. This layer is archaeological sterile and consists of large and small limestone rubble and conglomerates. It is 200 cm thick and consists of 27 subunits.

-E. Embedded in this Geological Unit is Archaeological Ensemble 3, varying between 50-60 cm, extending over the whole area, and qualified as an early (Quina) Mousterian rich in denticulates.

-Geological Layers F.and G. are sterile over a thickness of 120 cm.

-H. The Archaeological Ensemble 4 in this Geological Unit was qualified as Mousterian with some Bifaces of the "Meridional Type"

- I. Conglomerate of rounded stones, 15 cm thick.

- J. Ebouliscemented with yellow red sand. 5th layer of archaeological material, qualified as"Acheulian of "Meridional Type". 25 cm thick.

- K. is a Conglomerate, 25 cm thick

- L. and M. are Archaeologically sterile

-N. The archaeological level six with the famous "Micoquian" Industry, incorporated in Geological Unit N has been completely destroyed.

It consisted of many elongated and lanceolate Bifaces, Cordiformes, but also of typical Micoquian Handaxes, as described elsewhere- see: 1532 .

The ensemble is rich in a non-Levallois flake industry (simple scrapers, convergent scrapers, dejete scrapers and double scrapers), Bohrer -like artifacts and Mousterian Points.

U-Series and ESR Dating of Horse Teeth - Horses were the preferred pray in all Archaeological layers- from Layers K, J, H and E gave a consistent minimum age between 300 to 350 k.a.

Geological these deposits belong to a cold and semi-arid environment, attributed to the MIS 10 (Falgueres et al. 2004). La Micoque is, together with the lower strata of the Grotte Vaufrey, still the oldest stratified Archaeological site in the Dordogne.

If the "Micoquian" of Layer N also belongs to the same period or is substantially later (MIS6/Early MIS5) remains unclear. Techno-typologically, in my view, nothing would speak against a Middle Pleistocene age. Maybe some day last remnants of Unit N will be detected.....

A useful Article about La Micoque can be found in: Denis Vialou (Ed): La Prehistoire-Histoire et Dictionaire; 2004.

This is an authoritative Work written by specialists in their fields. More than 1600 pages of high-ranked information. A new edition, preferably in digital form, would be of great value.

Provenance: Probably E. Riviere Collection/ France