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Outils de percussion au Paléolithique supérieur ancien : l’exemple de sites aurignaciens et gravettiens en Vallée de la Vézère (Dordogne, France)

Abstract : The work presented in this paper is the result of a more general study of all the non-flint lithic materials carried out on several sites of the Early Upper Paleolithic of the Vézère valley (Dordogne, France). Among the many objects in this category, we will present here only those showing traces of percussion use. Although these traces are most often present on river pebbles, we will see that other types of materials have also been used, including the reuse of flints originally knapped for something else. The study concerns three Aurignacian rock shelter sites (Abri Blanchard and Abri Castanet in Sergeac and Abri Cellier in Tursac) and the Final Gravettian levels of two other rock shelter sites (Pataud and Laugerie-Haute in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac). The collections studied have very different origins: collections from old excavations, collection from the spoil of old excavations and current excavations. So these collections are very heterogeneous. Among the studied material, a macroscopic analysis revealed the presence of different categories of percussion tools, corresponding to diverse uses: - 82 hammerstones for flint knapping These are the most numerous. Among them we observe the greatest variability, both in terms of dimensions and raw materials. They are usually medium sized objects: between 50 and 100 mm for a weight of 90 to 500 g. Most are made of quartz, but there is great variability in the choice of raw material including gneiss, granite and quartzite. - 43 pounding stones They are river pebbles that show much more violent traces of impacts on the extremities or edges, often with splinters, sometimes altering the shape and volume of the support. They are more numerous on the Aurignacian sites. They are always among the biggest river pebbles with traces of percussion: between 80 and 130 mm for a weight of 200 to 900 g. A piece from Castanet measures 1400 g. The raw materials used are almost exclusively quartz and quartzite. - 22 choppers/hammerstones These are river pebbles with voluntary flake detachments to create more or less sharp ridges, which typologically can be called choppers. They all have very significant percussion and crush marks on their ridges. Most of them come from the Aurignacian sites. They are very similar in traces, dimensions and raw materials to pounding stones and probably had the same use. - 3 soft stone hammerstones These are two spherical calcareous pieces and a small flint pebble with a very thick and soft cortex. They are among the smallest hammerstones and were probably used for flint knapping. - 20 maillets (mallets) According to the definition of S. de Beaune (2000), these are small river pebbles, usually elongated, showing groups of more or less intense percussion marks, which can form a clear depression on the river pebble surface. They have relatively small dimensions: between 60 and 110 mm in length for 20 to 70 mm in width and weights from 20 to 130 g. The raw materials used are varied, but are generally fine grained and compact rocks (lithographic limestone, diorite, etc.). Quartz is never used. - 49 flint objects reused in percussion Most of these objects are cores, but there is also one large flake, some carinate scrapers and one carinate scraper rought-out. Some have such intensive percussion marks that the edges have almost completely disappeared, which gives them an almost spherical appearance. With lengths between 30 and 80 mm for a weight of 30 to 300 g, they are among the smallest hammerstones. It is in the Gravettian sites that they are most numerous. We have several hypotheses concerning their uses: as hammerstones for flint knapping, bush-hammers or even lighters. - 9 intermediate pieces They are all from Castanet. They are quite voluminous flints with traces of percussion and crushing on two opposing areas. In most cases, these traces are relatively less intense. - 25 anvils These are objects of very varying sizes, weighing from 300 g to several kilos. Many of them have traces of anvil use, but also traces of use as pounding stones, flint knapping hammerstones, cutting supports, grinders or for chopper shaping. Quartz is the dominant material, but almost all the quartz pieces were also used as hammerstones. The five Aurignacian and Final Gravettian sites of the Vézère valley have all delivered quite large quantities of objects bearing use-stigmata of activities related to percussion, with a total of 275 pieces. In addition to being abundant, the percussion material in the five sites is relatively diverse. There are different categories of tools that revealed different uses, not just flint knapping. On the other hand, it appears that for each given type of tool, the uses seem to be the same in both cultures. Among the raw materials used, quartz pebbles are widely used, irrespective of site and culture. Alongside this dominant material, a considerable diversity of materials was selected. This diversity may vary depending on the type of object/use, but also the site/culture.
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Contributor : Laurent Chiotti <>
Submitted on : Thursday, January 7, 2021 - 10:53:06 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 6, 2021 - 3:06:04 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 6:40:50 PM


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Laurent Chiotti. Outils de percussion au Paléolithique supérieur ancien : l’exemple de sites aurignaciens et gravettiens en Vallée de la Vézère (Dordogne, France). 2021. ⟨mnhn-03101544⟩



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