Mousterian scraper from Saint-Germain-et-Mons

bergeracois

bergeracois2This is an enormeous large (15 cm long) scraper on a thick Levallois flake from the SaintGermainetMons, a commune in the Dordogne department in Aquitaine in southwestern France near Bergerac. The scraper is made from the typical local flint (Bergeracois chert). Such findings are an invitation for discussing the end of the Middle Paleolithic Neanderthal culture in S/W-France.

A “Levallois Mousterian with large scrapers” and a “Discoidal-Denticulate Mousterian”, have been proposed as a possible ending phase for the Late Middle Paleolithic in South-western France. These entities are dated firmly before the Heinrich Event 4, but if the Levallois Mousterian is systematically younger than the Discoidal-Denticulate Mousterian and if both entities are systematically younger than the MTA-B remains unclear.

Stratigraphically, both complexes are all more recent than the MTA, as it is generally regionally defined, when it is present in the same sequences (for example the Discoidal-Denticulate Mousterian at Le Moustier and La Quina). The Levallois Mousterian with large scrapers could be typologically confused with “Ferrassie Mousterian” assemblages due to the presence of recurrent centripetal Levallois debitage  and a tool component dominated by scrapers, particularly, large double and convergent scrapers. This entity is known from the sequence of Rochers de Villeneuve in the Vienne where it overlies a Discoid-Denticulate Mousterian and is dated to ca 41-45 k.a. BP. MtDNA analysis of a human femur fragment recovered from this level has confirmed its attribution as being Neanderthal.   Levels E, F1, and F2 from the Grotte du Bison and the late Mousterian at Galerie Schoepflin at Arcy (Yonne) present a comparable succession whereby a Levallois Mousterian overlies a Discoid-Denticulate Mousterian.

It remains unclear if these late Middle Paleolithic complexes fill the temporal gap between the latest Middle and earliest Upper Paleolithic in S/W-France or coexisted with a late MTA. Anyhow there is no MTA stratigraphically above the Levallois Mousterian with large scrapers and / or a Discoidal-Denticulate Mousterian.  On the other hand the MTA is the last Middle Paleolithic before the earliest Upper Paleolithic on numerous sites in the area.

Recent research therefore suggests a clear rupture with no transitional stage between the Late Middle Palaeolithic (MTA-A/B followed by  a Discoid-denticulate Mousterian, which is occasionally followed by a Levallois Mousterian with large side scrapers) and the beginning of the Upper Palaeolithic. The MTA-A/B-Chatelperronian succession may be a construct of excavation bias and a priori assumptions from the early 20th century.

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