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2021-10-31 10:45:19   •   ID: 2275

A Handaxe from Dury and the Early History of Prehistory at Amiens

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows a 15 cm long asymmetrical elongated Handaxe from Dury, a suburb of Amiens. It is a 19th century finding from the gravels of the small Noye river, a left tributary of the Somme at Amiens.

The Somme is a long tranquil, meandering majestic river. The river Somme is the backbone of the department Somme, crossing it from east to west. This could also apply to the city of Amiens. Since Middle Ages the river and its tributaries was the spine of the city, irrigating its different districts - especially the hortillonnages of Amiens, allotments planted in wetlands, which served to supply the inhabitants of Amiens with fruit and vegetables, probably since the time of the Romans, but in any case since the Middle Ages. Of the original area of 10,000 ha, 300 ha still exist today.

The Middle Somme valley near Amiens (Figure 2 for a geographic orientation), give us a glimpse into 600 k.a. of human history-see: 1306 . The most important stratigraphies, partially with in situ artifacts, are present at St Acheul and Montières, which still remain hot-spots in the evaluation of the Acheulian in Northern France.

While Acheulian finds at St Acheul, a suburb of Amiens are closely related to the stratigraphy of the Somme, an association with the deposits of a small tributary, the Avre, which flows into the Somme, is evident at the Cagny and Dury Paleolithic localities

We remember that the claims of Boucher de Perthes -more about him: see- 1499 and here: Boucher de Perthes , who was convinced, that he found Human implements in the Gravels of Abeville and St Acheul at the Somme together with the remains of an extinct Pleistocene Megafauna, in the 1850s and after 20 years of fieldwork, still were not accepted by the scientific authorities in Paris and London.

He was simply ignored by the members of the great academies of France and Britain whose opinions really counted.

Figure 2; Wikimedia Commons
But Boucher's opponents also appeared at the regional scene. A certain Dr. Rigollot, an experienced Antiquarian from Amiens, decided to beat de Perthes with his own weapons.

He initiated a series of excavations in the gravel pits of St. Acheul and Dury and made no secret of the fact that he was mainly interested in invalidating Boucher's theses.

But as he detected bifaces and other flint tools from in the Gravels, he gradually became convinced that de Perthes was right.

In 1854, he published his excavation reports, by which he unconditionally aligned himself with his former opponent.

His publications contributed to the fact that geologists from both sides of the English Channel made, for the first time, their own assessment of Boucher’s findings in the Gravels on the Somme.

The breakthrough came in 1859 when the scientific community definitively confirmed the thesis of Boucher de Perthes, that fossil man was the maker of the handaxes and lived contemporaneous with the great extinct Pleistocene mammals. More about this issue can be found here: Breaking-the-time-barrier

It remains an irony of scientific history that Dr Rigollot, who originally intended to rebut Boucher de Perthes findings at Abbeville and St Acheul became a partisan of Boucher’s ideas after his explorations at Dury and later at St Acheul. Well that's just how science works....

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