Saint-Même-les-Carrières 300000 years ago….

This is a classic Acheulian Handaxe from  Saint-Même, found 1973 (18 cm long). The territory of Saint-Même-les-Carrières is situated about ten kilometers south east of Cognac in Western France,near the banks of the Charente and was already introduced during an earlier post (http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/12/mta-charente/) ( http://www.aggsbach.de/2011/01/st-meme-a-biface-as-a-core/), . The intense exploitation of gravel and sand pits for over a century yielded significant series of Early and Middle Paleolithic artifacts, which were collected by the quarrymen and sold to numerous collectors. There were pieces of this site in the collection of the Mortillets and of the Abbe Breuil. One excellent biface, possible from Peyrony’s collection, now symbolizes the old Paleolithic at the new Museum at Les Eyzies (http://www.musee-prehistoire-eyzies.fr/homes/home_id24921_u1l2.htm)

The middle terrace of the Charente (13 to 25 m relative altitude) extends between and Mainxe and Tilloux and has been formed by the alluvial deposits of  former meanders of the river. Several Acheulian complexes are included in these deposits. The absolute age of the middle terrace remains actually unknown. The fauna indicates a Middle Pleistocene age (E. antiquus, E. trogontherii, E. Primigenius, Rhinoceros Etruscus…..).  The low terrace (4 to 13 m relative altitude),  is found between St. Amant de Jarnac and Graves,  contains both Acheulian industries together with remains of E. Primigenius and E. Trogonthérii, and is famous for its “beautiful” handaxes and bifacial cleavers. Finally a Middle Paleolithic without bifaces is incoperated in the low terrace.

With the help of the municipality of the commune of Saint- Meme, a small museum was created 30 years ago bringing together some of the old collections, which are now displayed to a wider audience. The richness of Paleolithic deposits at Saint-Même-les-Carrières was once compared with the abundant material in the Somme valley by P. Fitte, but regular scientific work was never initiated at the site.

 

Suggested Reading:

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/bspf_0249-7638_1933_num_30_1_12113

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/bspf_0249-7638_1983_num_80_2_5420

Comment by Ber:” I last visited the little – two or three showcases then – but worthwhile exhibition in the municipal building of St Meme in 2003. At that occasion I was baffled by one of the most peculiar and beautiful artefacts I ever saw, for real or in the literature, in one of those showcases. It was a VERY regular, bifacially worked FLINT DISK, entirely round, about 17 (!) cms in diameter. For a flint object that size it was very thin, no more than about 2 cms at most. The remarkable thing about it was that it was not a Levallois core – the edges were entirely straight when looked from aside, exactly in the seccant plane, with no signs of Levalllois flake preparation. The piece is by all means a biface, not a Levallois core. In fine working and finishing it is comparable to the finest triangular Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition bifaces known from the fine-grained, “castine”-like upper layer in the quarries around St. Meme. I presume this disk was found in that, probably Weichselian, layer, and that it is MTA too”

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