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See detailThe Discoid techno-complex (MIS 3) at Ormesson and across the Paris sedimentary Basin: consistency and flexibility of a singular technical choice with relation to the lithological context
Leroyer, Mathieu; Bodu, Pierre; Salomon, Hélène ULg et al

Conference (2014)

During the last decade new excavations and reexaminations of old collection have refreshed our vision of the end of the Middle Palaeolithic. Among those advances, the identification of a "Discoid techno ... [more ▼]

During the last decade new excavations and reexaminations of old collection have refreshed our vision of the end of the Middle Palaeolithic. Among those advances, the identification of a "Discoid techno-complex” during the MIS 3 Interpleniglacial event, which differs deeply with other sub-contemporaneous technological practices, reinforce the idea that this period witnessed distinct stone knapping traditions. However, such claims must be established within different geographical and lithological context, in order to invalidate more parsimonious explanations of technical variability. The newly excavated open-air camp site in Ormesson has provided multiple well preserved archaeological layers. The older is dominated by Discoid flaking method and dates to the MIS 3. These occupations took place in a geographical context where flint is not present in situ but was easily available from different sources within the “daily range” of the site. For instance Gravettian and Châtelperronian have preferentially used Campanian flint available 5 km from the site along the Loing River. So far the lithic chaînes opératoires in the Discoid Mousterian layer are characterised by a more limited technical involvement both in term of flint procurement (lower flint quality) and knapping gesture. At the same time, the Neandertal occupants invested considerable effort to extract, import and select the raw ochreous material, whose numerous remains have been found associated with stone tool in the Layer 4. The fact that they did not take advantage of the same trips not only for ochre but also for better flint supply seems problematic. Another characteristic of Ormesson Discoid assemblage is, for the moment, the scarcity of retouched implements, in particular of notches and denticulates which frequently characterize the techno-complex in South-western France. Are such characteristics representative of a state of progress in the excavations? Are they relevant of local techno-economic tactics, or subtle cultural specificities? In addition to ongoing excavation progress at Ormesson, a complementary way to solve these questions will be to enlarge the scope of the analysis to the whole Paris Basin. In that space, Discoidal assemblages have been now studied from very contrasting geographical and lithological contexts. For instance, Arcy-sur-Cure cave sites, on one side, Beauvais and Mennecy open-air sites on the other side, are respectively located at the very margin and near the center of the limestone dominated basin. As a consequence we observe great variations of flint availability from these different contexts. The preliminary comparison of the datas available confirms the existence of similar knapping methods and goals during a limited period, broadly centered on the MIS 3. But it also suggests some intrinsic adaptability of the Discoid typo-technological system to raw material nature and availability. When replaced in that perspective, the different characteristics of stone tool production currently recognized at Ormesson don’t appear, so far, to underline any cultural peculiarity on that site and fit with a coherent vision of the Discoid techno-complex also in Northern part of France. In return, the singular preservation of Ochre at Ormesson, offers a punctual opportunity to integrate what we increasingly know about these knapping habits with more obscure but anyway complementary aspects of a cultural system. [less ▲]

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See detailAn open-air site from the recent Middle Palaeolithic in the Paris Basin (France): Les Bossats at Ormesson (Seine-et-Marne).
Bodu, Pierre; Salomon, Hélène ULg; Leroyer, Mathieu et al

in Quaternary International (2014), 331

In northern France, most of the sites attributed to the Middle Palaeolithic are open-air sites in which mainly lithic artefacts are found, due to taphonomic conditions often unfavourable to the ... [more ▼]

In northern France, most of the sites attributed to the Middle Palaeolithic are open-air sites in which mainly lithic artefacts are found, due to taphonomic conditions often unfavourable to the preservation of fauna. The lithic assemblages found in most of those open-air sites suggest that the activities on the camp sites were diversified, although flint knapping was often intense due to the proximity of sources of raw siliceous materials. With the exception of very rare open-air sites, fauna is poorly preserved and spatial and economic analyses may often be based on the spatial distribution of lithic artefacts, in particular based on refits and their analysis. Therefore the palaeoethnological approach is difficult to implement in most open-air areas. In contrast, in the Paris Basin, the study of more recent sites from the Tardiglacial, such as the Magdalenian sites of Pincevent or Etiolles, falls within this approach. The recent discovery (2009) and excavation of the open-air site of Ormesson (Seine-et-Marne - France) was initially intended to document a Gravettian occupation floor dated around 26,000 years uncal BP and related to a preferential bison hunt. Whilst checking the thickness of the loess in which the Gravettian level was found, several other prehistoric settlements were discovered (Chatelperronian, Middle Solutrean) including two units attributed to the Middle Palaeolithic. One of them, level 4, seems to be particularly well-preserved. It occurs between one and three meters below the main Upper Palaeolithic occupation. The lithic industry from level 4 belongs to a technical tradition generally attributed to the Middle Palaeolithic: discoid technology. The freshness of the material and the presence of bone fragments attributed in part to horse support a general good state of preservation of this occupation. The Mousterian remains seem to cover at least 500 m2, as currently estimated. Even more exceptional is the close spatial relationship between the discoid industry, the bone pieces, remains of fireplaces and especially the numerous fragments and nodules of red colouring materials. These were brought to the site where they were utilised by the Mousterians. The used surfaces show indisputable scraping traces and facets. These recent discoveries will certainly contribute to the debate on the cognitive capacities of nearly the last representatives of the Middle Palaeolithic and this within a complex stratigraphy which will allow us to make comparisons between the different periods. [less ▲]

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See detailPIXE identification of the provenance of ferruginous rocks used by Neanderthals
Mathis, François ULg; Bodu, Pierre; Dubreuil, Olivier ULg et al

in Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section B, Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms (2014), 331

Les Bossats, near Ormesson, France, is a newly discovered late Mousterian open air site dated to around 47,000 years ago by thermoluminescence. The archaeological level, fossilized by loess, revealed a ... [more ▼]

Les Bossats, near Ormesson, France, is a newly discovered late Mousterian open air site dated to around 47,000 years ago by thermoluminescence. The archaeological level, fossilized by loess, revealed a rich industry based on the discoid mode, associated with numerous fragments of red and yellow iron oxide-rich rocks showing clear traces of powder production (abrasion, striation, scraping), which are exceptional remains for this remote period. Archeological material and geological samples from the close environment were studied by PIXE and by petrographical observations made on thin sections. The geological sources were identified by means of PIXE analyses on two IBA facilities: AGLAE (2 MV tandem) at the C2RMF in Paris and the cyclotron of the IPNAS (University of Liège). We paid particular attention to the comparison of results obtained on both installations by using the same set of geological standards and by a fine evaluation of the limit of detection relative to each trace elements of interest for both experimental set ups. The elemental fingerprint of one geological source of iron-rich concretions corresponds clearly with the archaeological collection. At least, this investigation demonstrates that the colouring materials were minutely selected in the close neighbouring of the site by the Neanderthals. [less ▲]

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See detailNeanderthals see red : production of red powder in the Late Mousterian in Ormesson, France
Salomon, Hélène ULg; Geurten, Stéphanie; Bodu, Pierre et al

Poster (2013, February 07)

Les Bossats, near Ormesson, is a newly discovered late Mousterian site dated around 47.000 B.P. by thermoluminescence. The archaeological level, fossilized by loess, revealed a rich industry based on the ... [more ▼]

Les Bossats, near Ormesson, is a newly discovered late Mousterian site dated around 47.000 B.P. by thermoluminescence. The archaeological level, fossilized by loess, revealed a rich industry based on the discoide mode, associated with numerous fragments of red iron-rich rocks. The geological sources were identified by means of SEM-EDX, XRD, Raman spectroscopy, PIXE and by petrographical observation of thin sections. The past mechanical and morphological modifications of the pigment blocks were characterized by macro-photography, microscopy and topographical micro- measures of the used surfaces. It was thus possible to demonstrate that the colouring materials were selected in the neighbouring by the Neanderthals. Fourteen blocks and fragments show different use wears such as facets, grooves and scars. The Neanderthals implemented numerous techniques in order to produce preferentially red powder. The archaeological remains reveal an organized and versatile processing sequence of red ferruginous materials. During the late Mousterian a great phenomenon in expansion in western Europe is remarkable by the much wider exploitation of mineral red and black materials corresponding to technical modifications and divers utilizations under development. [less ▲]

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See detailAn open-air site from the recent Middle Palaeolithic in the Paris Basin (France): Les Bossats at Ormesson (Seine-et-Marne).
Bodu, Pierre; Lacarrière, Jessica; Leroyer, Mathieu et al

Conference (2012, November)

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See detailLate Mousterian red pigment proceeding in Les Bossats, Seine-et-Marne (France)
Salomon, Hélène ULg; Bodu, Pierre; Geurten, Stéphanie

Conference (2012, June 01)

Les Bossats, near Ormesson, is a newly discovered late mousterian site dated around 47.000 B.P. by thermoluminescence. The archaeological level, fossilized by loess, revealed a rich industry based on the ... [more ▼]

Les Bossats, near Ormesson, is a newly discovered late mousterian site dated around 47.000 B.P. by thermoluminescence. The archaeological level, fossilized by loess, revealed a rich industry based on the discoide mode, associated with numerous fragments of red pigment rocks. The geological sources were identified by means of SEM-EDX, XRD, FT-IR, PIXE and by petrographical observation of thin sections. The past mechanical and morphological modifications of the pigment blocks were characterized by macro-photography, microscopy and topographical micro-measures of the used surfaces. It was thus possible to demonstrate that the colouring materials were brought to the site by the Neanderthals and the supply in raw material was local. Eleven blocks show different use marks such as facets, grooves and scars. The colouring materials employed by the Neanderthals on the camp site were used by different process (scraping, rubbing, crushing and grinding) in order to obtain red powder. The archaeological remains reveal an organized proceeding sequence of red pigment. During the late Mousterian a great phenomenon in expansion in western Europe is remarkable by the much wider exploitation of mineral red and black pigments corresponding to technical modifications and divers utilizations under development. As such, it questions our perception of the humanity of Neanderthal. Did he produced symbol by using pigments or were these minerals part of the economy of subsistence? [less ▲]

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