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2022-04-23 07:42:17   •   ID: 2324

Early Prehistoric Research at Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf (Haute Normandie)

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Figure 1 and 2: This is a 12 cm long, non Levallois Blade from the upper strata of Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf (Haute Normandie), found early in the 20th century. It could be of Middle Paleolithic (MIS5) origin. Both Levallois and "Upper Paleolithic-like" Chaîne opératoires in Blade production have been described in this Part of France, made by Neanderthals- see 1522 .

At Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf, in the Seine valley, four ancient loess soils are present, with four interglacial soils in between: Elbeuf I (Eemien; MIS5), Elbeuf II, Elbeuf III and Elbeuf IV (MIS11); (D. Cliquet 2013; D. Cliquet et al.2009; Leroyer and Cliquet, 2010).

After the recognition in 1859 of the validity of the works of Boucher de Perthes (1788-1868), the existence of Prehistory, was rather quickly admitted during the 1860s by a good part of the scientific circles, which encompassed both influential first professional Prehistorians and enthusiastic Laymen, which often came from the members of the clergy, although the Catholic Church in particular had strong reservations about prehistoric research.

In the region of Haute-Normandie, the direct participation of Abbé Cochet and Georges Pouchet in the events of 1859-1860, which finally led to the official recognition of the Somme Paleolithic, first described by Boucher de Perthes, undoubtedly favored the formation process of Paleolithic Prehistory (Remy-Watté 2011).

By the way: First Handaxes in the haute Normandy had already described as early as in 1863.

Among the main themes, during the early days of Prehistoric research, were the classification and dating of the oldest remains, based on a double reflection on the typology of artifacts and the study of site stratigraphy, in which the dominant influence of Gabriel de Mortillet became appearent.

It seems to be a quirk of history that the men (there were no women present) who were engaged in the Prehistory of the Normandy met for their third meeting in 1893 in Elbeuf.

The inaugural session of the "Société normande d'études préhistoriques" took place on May 28, 1893, under the honorary presidency of Gabriel de Mortillet, in the presence of 27 members of the École d'anthropologie de Paris, including Geoffroy d'Ault du Mesnil, whose work on the sites of the Somme led Mortillet to distinguish several Handaxe Complexes designated "Acheulean" and "Chellean" by him (M. Remy-Watté 2014).

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Of course, during the meeting the stratigraphy of Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf, exposed by gravel work, was visited.

Figure 3 (P.-J. Chédeville 1894) shows us a lithograph of the geology of the site, which is still important today and bears some of the oldest Paleolithic Findings in the fluviale deposits of continental North Europe.

A large Handaxe from the site, most probably from MIS11, has been described in an earlier post -see: 1595

Saint-Pierre-lès-Elbeuf is situated 20 km south-west of Rouen (France; Haute Normandy) near an impressive and large meander of the Seine, where at its crest the 112 meters high chalk cliffs of Ovigal drawn by erosion overhang the valley. The imposant limestone cliffs are worth a visit.

During the Quaternary, the meandering Seine River cut into the chalky plateau of present-day Haute-Normandie, giving rise to hillsides on its concave bank, while the opposite bank, formed of alluvium, spread out in a gentle slope.

Near Paris, one of the most important Scientific Capitals in Europe during the 19th century, large quantities of mainly Early and Middle Plaeolithic artifacts were made downstreams at the Seine.

That concerns especially the suburbs of Paris (Levallois Perret) and several gravel pits around Rouen like Bondeville, as well as that of Evreux, Mantes-la-Jolie, St.-Pierre-les-Elbeuf and Oissel - see: 2258 , 2028 and 1152 .

Provenance: Collection Bigot (FR)

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