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La Grande Vallée, a new evidence on the discussion of the appearance of bifacial technology in Europe

By David Hérisson, Jean Airvaux, Arnaud Lenoble, Émilie Claud, Daniel Ritcher and Jérôme Primault


International audienceAs noticed by organisers of this session, the archaeological evidence dating between 0,8 and 0,5 Mya in Europe is scarce but recent discoveries suggest that the Acheulian or Mode 2 started to appear around this time. In this context, every new evidence and site dating from this time period are welcomed additions to debate about the modalities of the appearance of Mode 2 in Europe. In this communication, we will present recent data coming from a new excavation, La Grande Vallée, and its contribution to the knowledge of technological change during the Lower-Middle Pleistocene transition in Europe. La Grande Vallée is situated at the borders of the ‘Bassin Parisien’ and ‘Bassin Aquitiain’, between the extensions of the ‘Massif Central’ and the ‘Massif Armoricain’. Located in the northern part of the Seuil du Poitou, the site occupies a key-space between southern and northern Europe. Discovered in 1995, the site was recently excavated from 2006 to 2008, by an interdisciplinary team. Within three meters depth, five archaeological layers were discovered, delivering more than 18 500 lithic artifacts. Archaeological and pedostratigraphic results as well as thermoluminescence dating on burnt flint converge on an age for the lithic assemblages around 500 ka for the two oldest layers (U5i, U5g) and 400 ka for the three youngest layers (U5e, U5c, U5a). Attributable to the technological Mode 2, the wealth of lithic assemblages of La Grande Vallée permit us to study a series of sites during a scarcely documented period in Europe. Huge slabs of Upper Turonian flint were exploited by hominids to produce huge flakes. These huge flakes were used as tools or blanks for bifacial shaping. Handaxes have also been produced by direct shaping of Upper Turonian slabs. Technological studies show a large typological variety with morpho-functional concepts of relatively stabilized tools as well as specialized and repeated ‘chaînes opératoires’. All these recent data from La Grande Vallée will be presented and placed in the debate as a new evidence in the discussion of the appearance of bifacial technology (mode 2) in Europe

Topics: Handaxe, Biface, Palaeolithic, Acheulean, France, Lithic Industry, [SHS.ARCHEO]Humanities and Social Sciences/Archaeology and Prehistory
Publisher: HAL CCSD
Year: 2014
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:halshs-01079344v1
Provided by: HAL-INRAP
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