When I visited “le nord” in the 1980ies, people of this part of France appeared to me alarmingly impoverished. At this time I could not imagine, that decreasing wealth would be a common phenomenon during the coming years for many inhabitants of the western countries after the neoliberal reforms, that started during the 1980ies.
About 1905-1915, Victor Commont , professor at the normal school at Amiens, worked extensively with Paleolithic materials from the region around the Somme Valley and established a local chronology before the WW I. He was also engaged in the survey of sites in the Aisne and Oise region, where he detected most of the “MTA” sites under discussion in this post. The tireless professor even visited military trenches in in the Picardie / Nord searching for Paleolithic material after the Germans had left the devastated landscapes and after the battlefront had moved towards the German border during the end of the war. During such a trip he fell ill with pneumonia and died in Abbeville on April 4th 1918.
In Northern France the MTA is characterized by rather large, thin triangular and cordiform bifaces made on flakes. Such ensembles include a strong Levallois-component, scrapers, points and denticulates and sometimes a lot of “Upper Paleolithic” artifacts. MTA ensembles have been identified at:
- St Juste en Chaussee (Oise)
- Catigny (Oise)
- Versigny (Oise)
- Marcoing (Nord)
- Hamel (Nord)
- Tillet (Seine et Marne)
Furthermore, the MTA in N-France encompasses different facies, for example without thin triangular bifaces but with small handaxes (e.g. Hamel) and other bifacial industries like the Micoquian, represented by the presence of pradniks, (Mont de Beuvry and Champlost).
The MTA of N-France show some similarities with the MTA of S/W-France (OIS3) but is dated earlier (OIS 5d–5a). If there are any relations between the two technocomplexes is uncertain. Actually we lack of comparative studies regarding this question.
This small handaxe (8cm long) displays the typical morphological characteristics of the Versigny artifacts, which were collected by Colliez in the 1930ies. Such artifacts are usually made of flint, covered by a thick orange patination. Beside the artifacts, no deeper scientific information about Versigny is available. While other sites (St Juste en Chaussee , Catigny) were scientifically evaluated, Versigny remained a pure “collectors site”
About the MTA in the North: