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2022-06-01 16:31:44   •   ID: 2335

The Late Solutrean at Pech de la Boissière

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Figure 2
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This is a 6,2 cm long, paper thin Shouldered Point from the Vicinity of the Pech de la Boissière Site near Sarlat in the Dordogne / France. It shows the traits of Smiths`"sous Type A", characteristic for a Solutreen final and also known from the Upper layers at Fourneau du Diable- see: 2308 .

The Point was found at "Sarlat" and therfore at or in the vicinity of the Pech de la Boissière site. Pech de la Boissière is located in the commune of Carsac, 7 kilometres south of Sarlat and some 100m from the more famous Pech de l‘Aze sites. Located on a small rocky outcrop at the base of a limestone cliff facing south, it dominates the bottom of a narrow valley crossed by the road from Sarlat to Gourdon and the railroad line from Bordeaux to Aurillac.

The site was already visited in the 19th century and was already mentioned by Mortillet to feature Solutrean layers. Early explorers, amateurs and merchants, destroyed the central part of the site - unfortunately a normal process at these times.

In 1928, the state rented the intact part and the site was given the status of a national monument. Already in April 1929, Elie Peyrony carried out the first programmed works.

In his publication he reported, "The work was carried out for the first time in April 1929 over a period of two weeks. First, a trench was started in the center of the site, at the point where the first investigations had taken place, perpendicular to the rock and 3 m in front of the vertical of the Vault.

At 5.5 m from the ground, we encountered a barrier that formed a kind of wall, 1.2 m high, where the archaeological deposit ended. During my work I noticed that this construction completely closed the shelter, forming a kind of well protected chamber
" (My own translation).

I suspect that the wall dates back to historical times, like a similar structure at Fourneau de Diable - see: 1626 . However, the limitation of the find layers to the parts of the site lying within this structure is quite striking.

Peyrony described a 1,1 m thick black stratum with Solutrean, followed by a Magdalenian, about 0,15 m thick. Everyone who knows the excavation methods of the time, can assume with some certainty, that the allegedly uniform Solutrean consists of more than one layer. Beside, this is also apparent from Peyronies own description of the site.

Peyrony noted, that Shouldered Points were scattered throughout the 1,1 m of the level, associated with Laurel Leaf points and some pointes à face plane. According to the excavators, Laurel leaves were mainly abundant in the lower part of the Solutrean level, became progressively rarer towards the top, and disappeared finally almost completely. This observation fits to the general trend during the late Solutrean in S/W-France.

Doubts about a correct separation of layers arise not only by the reported abundance of backed bladelets in the Solutrean Stratum, because they were generally more characteristic for the Magdalenian, but also by the illustration of a Noailles burin, "micro-saws" and a Burin Type "Bec de Péroquet", which were claimed come from the Solutrean layer.

Maybe we have to face a Noaillian below the Solutrean and the possibility that Magdalenian tools moved down into the Solutrean layers by taphonomic processes.

Figure 5
The Point of this Post resembles the Solutrean shouldered point with abrupt retouch, which is by far the most common hunting tool at the end of Solutrean in France.

Its morphological and volumetric variability permitted a large variety of hafts with the intention of creating composed projectiles (Ibáñez et al. 2017, 2019).

A deeper technological analysis of late Solutrean shouldered Points from Placard (Charente), Fourneau du Diable, Pech de la Boissiere and Combe-Saunière (Dordogne) was published by Geneste and Plisson (2018; see attached files).

The authors described the shouldered points from Boissiere as "Mediterranean type points, with very little notch and slightly curved support, rarely retouched on the lower side“ (My Translation).

The tang of the point, shown here, was made by an almost backed retouche and shows an additional and very limited retouche contralateral on the ventral side.

In addition, Marginal retouches are present near the tip on the dorsal side of the artifact. Geneseste and Plisson described many isolated tangs from Pech de la Boissière, with the stigmata of impact and secondary breakage.

Figure 5 shows a page from Smith's seminal Publication with quasi identical points from the site in the upper row No 3 and 4. Such implements point to a much needed high functional efficiency of weapons, maybe as a part of advanced composite projectiles during the harsh environments of the LGM.

The miniaturization was possible necessary to adapt the tool to the requirements of changing methods of propulsion (most likely bow and arrow).

Finally, the Morphology of the Point seems to envisage the "desolutreanization" phenomenon, or loss of flat retouch, and a return to the Gravettian traditions that were firmly established in the Epigravettian East of the Rhone axis and the Iberian Peninsula.

Suggested Readings:

Solutré : Jean Combier (Ed). Volume du 150e anniversaire; 2016.

Le Solutréen 40 ans après Smith’66. Tours : Fédération pour l'édition de la Revue archéologique du Centre de la France, 2013. 480 p. (Supplément à la Revue archéologique du centre de la France, 47)

Philip Smith: Le Solutreen en France. Bordeaux: Imprimeries Delmas, Memoire no. 5; 1966.

Surf the Blog: here: 1473 , here: 1642 , and here: 1600


Most Probably Peyrony Collection- via Collection of Van den Dries