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2022-11-05 16:04:04   •   ID: 2355

Along the tranquil River: A foliated Handaxe from Glisy at the Somme

Figure 1
The Somme River in northern France rises in the hills at Fonsommes, near Saint-Quentin in the Aisne Département, and flows generally westward for 245 km to the English Channel, crossing the Somme Département and the ancient province of Picardy.

From Amiens, near which its headstreams (including the Ancre and Avre) converge, the Somme follows the floor of a trench across the chalk country.

Like a string of pearls, Early and Middle Paleolithic sites are found between Abbeville and Amiens.

The Somme basin occupies a privileged place in the history of prehistory with, in 1859, the demonstration of the antiquity of the human species when Joseph Prestwich and John Evans photographed a biface in situ in the gravels of Saint-Acheul, thus confirming the contemporaneity of Man and extinct animal species, as Jacques Boucher de Perthes had already stated in 1847 (Cohen & Hublin 1989).

The study of the stratigraphic context of flint tools found in the terraces of the Somme and their interpretation by Victor Commont, Henri Breuil and François Bordes according to a phylogenetic mode played a great role in the classification of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic (Tuffreau 2001).

Excavations carried out over the last thirty years in various deposits at Cagny, Saint-Acheul and Gentelles have renewed the existing documentation, which consisted until then of pieces collected during quarrying in the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century.

These excavations led to a concise absolute stratigraphy of the terraces system of Somme and a better understanding of the technical evolution of the local Acheulian and Middle Paleolithic - further information can be found here: 2275 , here: 2107 , here: 1306 , here: 2059 , here: 1627 and here: 1201 .

Figure 1 shows a whitish patinated 14 cm long foliated Biface from Glisy near Amiens. Glisy is located in the Amiénois on the south bank of the Somme River, about eight kilometers east of Amiens and eight kilometers southwest of Corbie.

Like everywhere on the Somme, large gravel pit works took place in Glisy during the late 19th and early 20th century. The works led to the discovery of Early and Middle Paleolithic findings, which were, however, far from being as numerous as those at Amiens.

In N-France foliated Handaxes appear at classic Acheulian and early Middle Paleolithic sites like Presles-et-Boves (MIS 9-11; Aisne), within the Oise region, at Cagny (between MIS 9 and 11), at the Somme at Mareuil, Saint Acheul (MIS 7-9) and Montières (MIS 7), but are uncommon within the so called „Micoquian" sites during MIS 5 (c. 100 – 90 k.a. BP) within the Seine region-see here: 1532 .

The accumulation of foliated handaxes in the Aisne Valley may be due to the presence of platy raw material, while activity-specific causes should be present on the Somme.

However, these specific instruments are only found at times when the Acheulian was well established in the territory and never in very early inventories.


Collection Bigot (FR)

Suggested Reading:

Mark J. White: A Global History of The Earlier Palaeolithic- Assembling the Acheulean World, 1673–2020s; 2022.