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2022-05-11 10:02:23   •   ID: 2328

Bifacial Neolithic Pic from Hardivilliers/Troussencourt

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
At the southern limits of Picardy, on the chalky plateaus overlooking the sources of the Noyé River, significant Neolithic stations exist.

Four principal workshops, already described by Mortillet in the 19th century, are located in the immediate vicinity and to the west of Breteuil-sur-Noye (Département Oise). Three of them are located near Hardivilliers and the fourth in the Troussencourt area.

These four workshop-stations have great similarities with each other, as well as with the Spiennes mining area. The lithic tools are almost identical: large rough-outs, enormous masses of flakes of all sizes, few finished pieces of more modest sizes, rare polished flints and no imported hard rocks.

Finally, in these stations, the raw material is identical: black flints from the underlying Senonian, in fairly flat chips, sometimes in plates.

The best comparisons can be found on the flint mines of Nointel and Hardivillers (Oise district; Dijkman 1980; Agache 1959) and the Ressons flint mine seems to match the standard Picardy mining sites exploiting Cretaceous levels through small shafts with chambers or short galleries (Bostyn et al. 2018).

The non polished, 10 cm long, Bifacial Neolithic Pic shown in Figure 1 - 3 is from an excavated Hardivilliers workshop-site known as Les Plantis and was found early in the 20th century.

M.-C. Cauvin (1971) described Pics as "tools that are all elongated and pointed (with a thick point)" and classified them into two" families": "bifacial picks and flat-faced picks being the two fundamental categories".

Beside from the (African) Early Stone Age, Pics are especially abundant from the Middle and Late European Neolithic at Mining sites, manufactured by people exploiting both the ground and the underground.

They were part of sedentary farming communities, who- probably in the Wintertime, beginning with the earliest Neolithic excavated tunnels and shafts underground in order to obtain fresh and easier to work flint. A dense network of production sites stretched across the French North and Belgium with the most abundant site of Spiennes - see: 2089

The presence of miners on the same site could then extend over several hundred years or even several millennia. The mines were specialized sites that are distinct from the places where people lived.

However, we should not forget that underground mining had at these times already a long tradition - It is first documented during the Late Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic (OIS5-3) in the Nile Valley.

What is called a Neolithic Pic in Europe is a solid tool, more or less roughly retouched, about ten to thirty centimeters long, with one or two pointed ends.

The bifacial Pic is produced like an axe from a block or a large flake and has one or two pointed ends. It usually is characterized by a quadrangular cross section.

Unifacial Pics have a plain ventral side, which is flat or slightly arched and may be retouched or not. Its cross-section is triangular or trapezoidal, with retouching made preferably on the dorsal sides (J-L Piel-Desruisseaux 2007).

The bifacial Pic from Hardivilliers / Troussencourt, shown in this post has the typical white patina of this area. Anyhow, we notice a double (or better: tripple) patina on one apical (pointed) side, which indicates that the implement has been resharpened during work.

This fits well to its size, which is in the lower normal range, indicating several cycles of rejuvenation. During initial faconnage, fluting techniques were used, usually known from Clovis or Folsom Projectiles in Paleo-America (Figure 3).

Regarding that the end -products for export were more or less finer rough outs of non polished axe-heads, a pic at a workshop site always indicates that this piece was not intended for export, but used to break the surface limestone layers to get to the very homogeneous flint at depth (Agache 1959).

The relatively small dimension of the Pic of this post may explained by the need to use smaller and strong tools in the limited underground space. Such tools should remain "manageable“ in these difficult situations.

To dig the chalk layers, to detach the flint blocks, two tools were usually used during the Neolithic: the flint Pic and the deer antler Pic. A very informative short review can be found in the fine book of Piel-Desruisseaux (6th Edition p. 194 and the following pages).

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