Acheulian in the Charente and adjacent regions

charenteThis is an Acheulian handaxe from the Charente (10 cm long).

During the last 40 years, research on deposits of the early Middle Pleistocene has increased in Western Europe.  This is, among others, the case in England with Boxgrove and Happisburgh, in Northern France with Cagny, and Soucy, in Central France with the Noira, Italy with Notarchirico and in Spain with Atapuerca and Aridos.

In the Poitou-Charentes, numerous Acheulean sites have been discovered since the beginning of Prehistoric research in the nineteenth century. In the Charentes, the gravels of Saint- Amand-de-Graves, Saint-Même-les-Carrières, Mainxe, Saint-James and Jarnac are well known for their Acheulian industries (http://www.aggsbach.de/2012/03/saint-meme-les-carrieres-300000-years-ago/) . The Alluviums of Charente-Maritime are also very rich in archaeological findings from the early Paleolithic. Unfortunately, the system of river terraces in these regions is only poorly differentiated and poorly understood, making the dating of Archaeological deposits difficult.

In Vienne, North of Chatellerault, several Acheulian sites are known from surface collections since the 19th century (http://www.aggsbach.de/2010/12/lower-paleolithic-in-the-poitou-charentes/). The same holds true for the rich Acheulian findings at the Creuse River.

At a site called The Revaudiere near Yzeures-sur-Creuse, the terrace of 15-22 m delivered an exceptional elegant Acheulian industry.  However, the lithics were collected without stratigraphic context and programs of direct dating have not been undertaken till now.

Recently first data about the site La Grande Vallée, Colombiers near Chatellerault with five dated archaeological levels were published. They   provide a more comprehensive understanding of the local Acheulian, dated to ca 500 k.a. BP by several lines of evidence. The bifaces, which form the majority of the retouched tools from this site are as sophisticated as the handaxes from Boxgrove and demonstrate that an early Acheulian is not necessarily an “Acheuleen primitive” with crude implements.

Suggested Readings:

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=27105789

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/bspf_0249-7638_1962_num_59_9_8097

http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/pica_0752-5656_1988_num_1_1_1581

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