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2022-11-25 10:21:02   •   ID: 2359

A Handaxe used as a core from Angers (France-Central/West)

Figure 1
Angers is a city in the west of France, with approx. 160000 inhabitants today. It is the capital of the historical province called Anjou. Today, the name of Anjou is Maine-et-Loire.

Originally, the biface of the post (12x5x1,1 cm) was designed as a biconvex and very flat piece. However, it was subsequently re-used as a core and on the dorsal side and we still recognize the negative of a rather large flake. A nice example of the diversified use of Paleolithic Handaxes.

If such a handaxe is found without further context in the North European Plain, it is usually assigned to either a Late Acheulian or a MTA.

The same could be said for this biface. The typological chronology therefore covers a period between MIS9 and MIS3.

The artifact is a 19th century find from one of the old Gravel pits along the River Maine that flows through Angers. The Maine is a tributary of the Loire and is formed by the confluence of the Mayenne and Sarthe rivers north of Angers. It flows through the city and joins the Loire southwest of the city.

Early and Middle Paleolithic remains from or near Angers come from different terraces of the Maine. For the Lower Paleolithic, the oldest tools were found in a 42-meter terrace on the rue de Frémur.

The more recent 35 to 25 m terraces have yielded a series of Acheulean bifaces coming from Ecouflant (at La Chévère, already reported by G. de Mortillet in 1895) and from the banks of the Sarthe, mainly from Port-Launay. Another site with large lanceolated handaxes is La Mare.

Middle Paleolithic artifacts come from Angers (Mousterian, rue La Fontaine), from Ecouflant and from Empiré, in Sainte-Gemmes. The Upper Paleolithic (mainly Azian) is represented in Angers (Pond Saint-Nicolas, in Ecouflant and Empiré) and finally the Mesolithic in La Chévère d'Ecouflant.

Most of these sites are not dated by modern methods and have been excavated long time ago. The only multi stratified site near Angers at the moment is Roc-en-Pail already discovered in 1870. The early excavations yielded more than 30000 objects, fauna and industry. Limited excavations took place between 1943-1949 and again since 2014.

According to Soriano (2016) , the configuration during the occupations should be quite similar to the site of Jonzac (Charente). At the present state of knowledge, the chronology of the deposits remains entirely hypothetical, but certain archaeological layers have been related to Mousterian facies (including the Mousterian of the Ferrassie and Quina type) whose chronology is known in southwestern France.

The bulk of the occupations possibly took therefore place between the early Wurm and the Upper Pleniglacial. With faunas and microfaunas preserved in all the archaeological layers, and a stratigraphy that develops over almost 5 meters in thickness, Roc-en-Pail presents a major potential for the knowledge of the Middle Paleolithic in this region of France. We will certainly here more from this "forgotten site"