The Early Upper Palaeolithic assemblage from Havrincourt (North of France): new data and interpretations

Abstract

International audienceThe Canal Seine-North Europe Project is part of the French government’s major works policy to link the Seine Basin in Paris to theEscaut Basin, in the North of France. Due to this project, an area of 4,100 square meters was excavated at Havrincourt. In 2011,this site was excavated by E. Goval and a team of the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap).During the excavation three Middle Palaeolithic levels and one Early Upper Palaeolithic level have been found. We proposeduring this presentation to talk exclusively about this last level.The topographic position of the site coinciding with a gently sloping northeast facing hillside favoured the trapping of loess,allowing for rapid artefact burial. The occurrence of a well-preserved stratigraphic sequence of soils and loess deposits was discoveredand finely studied. Chronostratigraphic and paleoenvironmental investigations were based on systematic and continuoushigh resolution sampling of the main profiles for sedimentology, micromophology, malacology, magnetic susceptibility and soilgeochemistry. The radiocarbon dating placed the occupation between 28,000 BP and 27,000 BP uncalibrated and converged withother proxy results [1].All in all, 6 400 lithic artefacts and 238 faunal remains were discovered in the Upper Palaeolithic level, called Hav.2-N2. All theseremains were mainly located in four concentrations on 620 square meters. The typo-technological analysis of Upper Palaeolithiclevel showed an immediate need for raw blades indicating a short-term occupation. The archaeozoological and use-wear studiesled by P. Auguste and E. Claud have shown that a little part of area was dedicated to the exploitation of portions of carcasses. Thetaxonomic diversity of faunal remains is relatively high with at least ten species identified.Regionally, the discovery of this Early Upper Palaeolithic occupation in a developed stratigraphic context is exceptional. Indeed,until the early 2010’s, this period was particularly poorly represented in the North of France with only a few sites not inprimary context or with reduced quantitatively series. This lack of data has long ruled with the many sites discovered in neighbouringcountries such as Belgium and Britain made since the nineteenth century. In North of France, the discoveries of Early UpperPalaeolithic sites have multiplied in recent years thanks to preventive archaeology, with excavations sites like Amiens-Renancourt1 and 2 (Somme), Catigny (Oise) and Havrincourt Hav.2 -N2 (Pas-de- Calais). Today, ten sites can be compared with this period,to the simple clues of surface collections in well-preserved deposits and stratigraphic context.The Early Upper Palaeolithic level of Havrincourt complete our knowledge and appears today as an exceptional site combiningabsolute dating, developed stratigraphy, good preservation of lithic and faunal remains. The excavation of this site provides an impotantbasis of analysis for discussing the function and the settlement dynamics of occupations in a model of territorial exploitation.References:[1] Antoine, P., Goval, E., Jamet, G., Coutard, S., Moine, O., Hérisson, D., Auguste, P., Guérin, G., Lagroix, F.,Schmidt, E., Robert, V., Debenham, N., Meszner, S. Bahain, J.-J., 2014. Les séquences loessiques pleistocène supérieurd’Havrincourt (Pas-de-Calais, France): stratigraphie, paléoenvironnement, géochronologie et occupations paléolithiques.Quaternaire, 25(4), 321-368

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Last time updated on 29/01/2020

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