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L'élevage des caprinés néolithiques dans le sud-est de la France : saisonnalité des abattages, relations entre grottes-bergeries et sites de plein air

Daniel HELMER, Lionel GOURICHON, Hassan SIDI MAAMAR & Jean-Denis VIGNE

fr Anthropozoologica 40 (1) - Pages 167-190

Published on 02 September 2005

Neolithic caprine husbandry in the South-East of France: culling seasons, relationships between the sheepfold-caves and open field sites

New archaeozoological methodological progress and the increase of age data allow us to revisit and to improve the current hypothesis related to Neolithic caprine husbandry in the South-East of France. This paper is based on the revision of 12 culling profiles from sheepfold-caves, and on 15 profiles from open-field, cliff or rock-shelter sites, considered on all the duration of the Neolithic, i.e. three millennia and a half. In addition, it proposes a new method for determining the slaughtering season, basing on the measurement of the vestibular heath of the enamel of the fourth lacteal lower premolar. The culling profiles show that cave and open field sites played very different husbandry functions, that the same functions persisted all along the Neolithic period, and that the differences between then increased at the end of the Neolithic, as an expression of the complexification of the techno-economic systems. The lacteal tooth height classes evidence three seasonal culling period a year for young caprines of less than two year old, and allow to discuss the modalities of occupation of the sites (permanent, summer sites). The complementarity between the open-field (consummator) and the sheepfold-cave sites (productors), the evidence of summer altitude sites, the practice of sharing the flocks into several parts and the seasonality of culling suggest that, as early as the Early Neolithic, true soils have existed, and allow hypothesis concerning the mobility and the social structure of the Neolithic shepherds.
Keywords :
South-East of France, Neolithic, sheep and goat husbandry, sheepfold, seasonallity, archaeozoology.
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