Abri Pataud; Stratum 5; Burin

This is a simple burin from Abri Pataud; Stratum 5 (early Gravettian).

The Abri Pataud (Dordogne, France) sits at the base of imposing limestone cliffs flanking the Vézère River at Les Eyzies.  Pataud was discovered at the end of the 19th century but fortunately it was not until the 1950s that meticulous extensive and deep excavations took place under the direction of Hallam L. Movius. The data quality allows the continuous reevaluation of the archaeological record. The Abri Pataud  delivered a significant archaeological sequence of the Upper Palaeolithic some 9 m deep, which contained 14 discrete occupation horizons spanning the time from an early Aurignacian until the Solutrian. There are nine discrete Aurignacian levels that span the Aurignacian I and Aurignacian II beginning immediately before the Heinrich-Event 4 at ca. 40 k.a. cal. BP.(Higham 2011).

Using adequately predated AMS dates from humanly-modified material calibrated and modeled using a Bayesian statistical method, Higham could demonstrate, that Horizon 5 (early Gravettian) is considerably older than initially thought and in the range of at least 31 k.a. cal. BP. This horizon was deposited during interstadial conditions contemporaneous with the “Maisierien” (GIS 5) at Maisières-Canal and after a significant hiatus between the Horizon 6 (late Aurignacian) and Horizon 5. The palaeoenvironmental data indicate at this time a mixed mosaic landscape of forested areas and more open steppe-like zones and a more moist climate lacking the extremely harsh and cold conditions of previous periods.

This early Gravettian is composed of projectile points like larger Gravettes, Microgravettes and Flechettes (36% of all tools) together with domestic tools (mainly burins [21%] but also scrapers [20% of all tools]). This variability fits well into the spectrum of tools at other “early” sites (Sire, Vigne Brun, AZE Camping de Rizerolles, Willendorf, and Weinberghöhlen).

There is a vivid discussion about the question about where the Gravettian originated and from which preceding technocomplex it evolved (the late Aurignacian with large Font Yves points? the Ahmarian?).  Another question about the Gravettian is why it evolved and apparently spread so rapidly over the Eurasian continent with similar ages for the early phase at Kostenki, Willendorf, Paglicci and Pataud. U. Wierer (2012), working with the Paglicci material thinks, that diffusion of straight and pointed backed armatures was most likely related to the development of new hunting technologies.

 “The concept of producing standardized armatures on bladelets is not an innovation of the first Gravettian. Aurignacian assemblages display the same concept. However, there is a fundamental difference: in general the standardized morphology of the Aurignacian bladelets is already determined by detachment. If there is any retouch at all, it is marginal and does not significantly modify the general shape of the bladelet.  With the first Gravettian a complete change in armature manufacture took place which, starting from this period, characterized the production process until Neolithic times (in areas such as Italy in a nearly uninterrupted way): the systematic use of deep abrupt continuous retouch gave rise to an innovative projectile with a rectilinear profile and a sharply pointed tip” (Wierer U. Quaternary International; in press).

Les Eyzies/ Pataud in 2006:


Suggested Reading:

Abri Pataud / Les Eyzies during the Gravettian: Three Rare Artifacts

New AMS C-14 Dates: http://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S0047248411001588-gr3.jpg

Flechettes reconsidered: http://paleo.revues.org/1572

Gravettien en France: http://paleo.revues.org/1557

Dons Map:  http://donsmaps.com/venusabripataud.html:

Ursula Wierers Article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1040618212003217


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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 Abri Pataud; Stratum 5; Burin

  1. dav says:

    Interesting blog, thank you. But where do you get all those artefacts from? A university collection or some museum?

  2. Pingback: Reindeer phalanges from the Gravettian at Abri Pataud / Dordogne | Aggsbach's Paleolithic Blog

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