A small Handaxe from Fontmaure (Vienne)

fontmore aggsbach fontmaure

The  Fontmaure site was first recognized in 1905, plundered by amateures until 1935 ,and finally destructed by quarry operations. Fontmaure is famous for its multicolored jasper artefacts. Artifacts from the site represent a long time span between the Acheulian and the Neolithic.

During his excavations in the 1930ies, the physician L Pradel distinguished two distict Mousterian occupation levels. The first one was characterized by numerous small cordiform and triangular handaxes (< 10cm), and non-levallois mousterian tools (“MTA-A”?). The upper stratum exhibited features of a mousterian with numerous “upper paleolithic” artifacts, especially backed knifes. The blades for these tools are dechached from prismatic cores (“Mousterien a lames”). Unfortunately there are no absolute dates for this interesting ensemble. It could date back to OIS3 or even OIS5.

Fontmaure artefacts are typically small, which reflects the  challenging task of processing an extremely splitery and inhomogeneous raw material. This is also documented by numerous unfinished flakes ( sold for much money today) at the site. While handaxes and blades are usually made from the local jasper, Mousterian points were also sometimes produced from Grand-Pressigny flint, which was imported in some quantities.

While the modern viewer is fascinated by the beauty of Fontmaure-artifacts , it has to be questioned if the Neanderthals were equally  intrigued. Until now, no raw-material transport to other Mousterian sites beyond a radius of 50 km was demonstrated, and even during the Upper Paleolithic the evidence is scare ( Some pieces from the “Perigordian II” at Les Cottes and from the”Aurignacian V” at Laugerie-Haute).

To give an impression about the variety of the raw-materials:






About Katzman

During my whole life I was fascinated by stone age artefacts. Not only the aesthetic qualities of these findings, but also the stories around them and the considerations arising from their discovery, are a part of my blog. Comments and contributions are allways welcome! About me: J.L. Katzman (Pseudonym). Born in Vienna. Left Austria in 1974 and did not regret. Studied Medicine and Prehistory at a German University. Member of a Medical Department at a German University. Copyright 2010-2017 by JLK. All Rights Reserved. You are welcome to use material in these posts so long as you cite the work.
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3 Responses to A small Handaxe from Fontmaure (Vienne)

  1. Andrea Cachee says:

    This is a really great read for me.

  2. Ber says:

    The upper stratum indeed has “features of a Mousterian with numerous artifacts, especially backed knifes”. Is it Chatelperronian? I think this is suggested in the preface to the reedition of Pradel’s PhD thesis on Fontmaure. Why did Pradel – or anyone? – never call it Chatelperronian or, in older synonymous terminology, Perigordien ancien? He knew that latter technology well from his excavations at Les Cottes.

  3. Katzman says:

    The designation of a “Mousterien a Lames” for the Fontmaure upper strata comes from G. Bosinski (in his 1968 Thesis). It is clearly a Middle Paleolithic industry with a laminar aspect. Pradel found mousterian points and scrapers but also blades and bladelets, several burins and endscrapers and several backed blades, resembeling Abri Audit points rather than Chatelperonnian-points (compare them with the wonderful Chatelperonnian-points at Les Cottes!). Pradel also described many backed elements, which he calls : tablettes à bord abattu. They are essentially very different from any Upper Paleoloithic types.

    Le gisement de Moustérien typique final à influences paléolithiques supérieures de Fontmaure (Commune de Vellèches, Vienne)
    Via : Persee

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