Flechettes of the Gravettian technocomplex


This is a flechette from the Abri Pataud / Les Eyzies, originally defined at the  the la Gravette site (www.donsmaps.com/)  from the lower “Perigordian” strata of La Gravette , found during the early 20th century.

Flechettes are leaf-shaped points characterized by short, semi-abrupt retouch, sometimes inverse, at one or both extremities of the blade blank, extending sometimes along one or both margins.

This tool was found frequently associated with other fossil-directeurs of the Gravettian, including Font Robert points and Noailles burins. However, these associations are often from sites with a poorly defined stratigraphic context because the majority of excavations of the Gravettian deposits took place between 1890 and 1940 (Pair non Pair, Oreille d’Enfer; Grotte de la Crouzade, Abri Vignaud, La grotte de « chez Serre » at  Noailles,  Mas Nègre, Puyjarrige).

During the last decades, it became clear that especially early Gravettian deposits are often characterized by the presence of flechettes (La Vigne Brun, Abri Pataud, Brillenhöhle, Geißenklösterle, Hohle Fels), but flechettes are rarely a major component of the ensembles, with the exception at the lower Gravettian levels at the type site of la Gravette (the “Bayacian”) and the Aggsbach site in Lower Austria.

At La Gravette, according to Lacorre, an Aurignacian is followed by the “Bayacian”, with the flechettes being the only projectiles, followed by three Gravettian strata with no flechettes but a lot of Gravette-points.  The originality of the “Bayacian” has long been questioned by the Archaeological community (Sonneville-Bordes 1958; Delporte 1972; Rigaud 1988). A new technological study has now demonstrated the integrity of this level, and shown a specific and unique chaine opératoire for the production of flechettes at the type-site. The situation differs for the Gravettian deposits at La Vigne Brun. Here the flechettes are associated with Gravette-points and the production of both projectiles is part of a continuum.

About the Gravette site:


A more “typical” flechette, than the artifact shown here, comes here:


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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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2 Responses to Flechettes of the Gravettian technocomplex

  1. …..The gisement or archeological site of La Gravette is not easy to find and has no identification as to its significance as the type site for the Gravettian culture. It contains a sequence of Aurignacian and Gravettian as well as a level with darts that has been called the Bayacian Lacorre 1960 Delporte 1972 .. page 4 of the above On July 14 1930 Lacorre and Neuville opened a trench at the site of La Gravette though the site was not seriously excavated until much later 1940 – 1954 …. Note I present below this abridged and translated version of the very important paper by Delporte 1972 in an effort to make its important conclusions better known. The site of la Gravette has very scant information about it available on the internet which is a lamentable state of affairs for the type site of the Gravettian.

  2. Katzman says:

    Thank you for the comment. Of course the history of La Gravette is lamentable. A lot of artifacts were stolen and a part of the collection was sold abroad in a clandestine operation. The site is overgrown by weeds and renewed excavation was not possible until recently due to legal aspects. Hopefully renewed excavations of this multilayered site will be tackled during the near future.
    In addition we do not exactly know if the “Bayacien” is a construct of Lacorre or an authentic technocomplex, found at the site as described in original publication. It remains strange, that the “Bayacien” should be present at only one site. But the results of the “Chaine operatoire” approach cannot be ignored. For me it seems improbable, that both the flechettes and the corresponding cores were simply set aside for a secondary reconstruction of the stratigraphy.

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