La percussion lancée dans l’Aurignacien ancien du Bergeracois : quelques exemples issus des sites de Barbas III, Vieux Coutets, Les Garris et Cantalouette II (Dordogne, France)


fr Comptes Rendus Palevol 21 (18) - Pages 363-389

Published on 10 May 2022

This article is a part of the thematic issue The thrusting percussion during Palaeolithic: indentifying its use, related tools, timespan

Launched percussion in the Early Aurignacian from Bergerac region: some examples from Barbas III, Vieux Coutets, Les Garris and Cantalouette II (Dordogne, France)

In order to illustrate the launched percussion activities during the Early Aurignacian, we have selected four of the 15 sites appertaining to this technocomplex in the Bergerac region, in Southwestern France. The occupation of this territory, very rich in good quality flint nodules, some of which display imposing morphologies and dimensions, shows a certain functional complementarity between the different Aurignacian occupations, from the specialized occupation to the habitat site. In addition to technological particularities, such as the production of large blades (greater than 20 cm) or the coexistence of curved and straight lamellar production systems, this Early Aurignacian also illustrates some remarkable symbolic behavior expressed in body ornaments and artistic depictions. In these sites, the tools used in launched percussion, although always present, represent a marginal tool category, showing also a great diversity of functions. Three major classes of tools have been recognized: blunt impact tools, sharp impact tools, and linear blunt tools (an intermediate form between the other two). Each of these groups is oriented towards complementary uses within the range of activities made in these occupations. The blunt impact tools comprise a wide range of hammer-stones that take part in different phases of knapping activities, such as the opening of new blocks or the reconfiguration of cores, according to their physical and mechanical properties. Also, the traces left by these hammers are visible on other artifacts left on the sites, such as notches of carinated end-­scrapers. The sharp impact tools comprises a diversified range of cutting tools made on different blanks (preforms, cortical flakes, blades) obtained in laminar production. These tools present a particular morpho-functional structure of active or prehensive parts, natural or made, that improves an ergonomy essentially based on mass. This ergonomy, combined with the kinetics of launched percussion, gives these tools a great efficiency in chopping medium and hard organic materials. Finally, the linear blunt tools is represented by a single tool with blunt linear active zones, formed by open dihedrals with angles between 85 and 115°. The kind of activity made with this tool seems different, it bears traces of recurrent impacts similar to those present on tools used for grinding, pounding or crushing, suggesting also the presence of an anvil. These tools are very often associated with the transformation of plants. This panoply of diversified percussive tools complements the activities perceived on the other cutting and scrapping tools. This, again, illustrates the variety of activities made at this sites, basically the acquisition and transformation of organic perishable materials (of plant and animal origins), contributing to demonstrate that the Early Aurignacian occupations of the Bergeracois are much more complex thansimple flint workshops.


Tools, thrown percussion, Early Aurignacian, Dordogne, France

Download full article in PDF format Order a reprint