A “Flèche de Montclus”

mesolithic aggsbachThis is a trapezoid with unilateral facial retouch (1,6 cm long), a surface find from the Languedoc, known as “Flèche de Montclus”, named after the Montclus rockshelter, 20 km NW of Bagnols-sur-Ceze, Gard. Excavated mainly during the 1950ies, this abri remains a key site for the Mesolithic and Neolithic and Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in S-France. Unfortunately there are diverse stratigraphical problems encountered with the old excavations at the site and we will never know for sure if the “Epi-Castelnovian” strata (Microliths and indications for pottery) , where these projectile points were found represent the Meso-Neolithic transition or just a mix between late Mesolithic and Neolithic strata. The beginnings of Neolithic lifeways in the western Mediterranean region date back to 5700 cal BC. It is believed that this development is a consequence of an expansion of early Neolithic groups from northern Italy to southern France. Existence of these scarcely documented Impressa groups is dated between 5700 and 5600 cal BC. Sometime later, about 5400 cal BC, a new archaeological culture appeared: the Cardial culture, which is thus far the best-documented early Neolithic culture in the western Mediterranean region. The Cardial culture had a well-developed production economy that included foraging (cattle, sheep/goat, and pig) and farming (mainly emmer and einkorn wheat). The impressed decoration executed before firing the vessels obtained with the edge of a Cardium shell and the applied cordons are the most characteristic elements of this culture, which is attested from the Southern Alps to Iberian Peninsula. At about the same time, Neolithic lifeways spread to the hinterland. This continental Neolithisation is mainly related to cultures other than the Cardial culture. montclusOn the basis of available radiocarbon dates the Flèches de Montclus, which remained undated at the eponymous site appear to be a Neolithic arrowhead form of Southern France. They occur not only in Impressa sites but also in Cardial and Roucadourien contexts. A correlation with the Early Neolithic Impressa assemblage, fits in well with the postulated contacts of these people to Liguria and Elba, made on the basis of pottery decoration and where such transverse arrowheads were also typical components of the Impressa assemblage although dating somewhat earlier (from c. 5900 cal BC). The prominent symmetrical trapezoids with facial retouch discovered at Arene Candide in Liguria constitute an interesting link between the Ligurian Impressa and the Cardial of Southern France. Another interesting model is based on the similarity of Flèches de Montclus and the so called Armatures du Châtelet (5600-5200 BC), trapezoids with a bilateral facial retouch, known from the final Mesolithic (Retzien) of the Loire-Atlantique and Vendée. Here the use of facial retouch on trapezoids could indicate the early influence of already established Neolithic societies in the South on Mesolithic communities more in the North-West. On the other side one should not overstrain such analogies: similar projectile points are also known from the Neolithic in the Tenere.

The last photo comes from an excursion guide from 1976, in part identical with the corresponding parts of the “ La Préhistoire française”. Here the Flèches de Montclus were displayed as a part of the “Epi-Castelnovian” culture at the Baume de Montclus Rockshelter. trapeze

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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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