Perspectives sur l’étude des productions lithiques simples au Néolithique: Le cas de la culture Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain par le prisme du site de Vasseny (Aisne)

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Abstract

The study of Neolithic lithic industries has most frequently focused on blades or axes productions to shed light on the complexity of the social and economic organization of the first agro-pastoral populations. However, the collections are almost systematically composed of artifacts from so-called simple productions. As they are an integral part of this technical subsystem, they provide a counterpoint that offers equally essential and complementary elements to decipher the behaviour of these populations, closely linked to the domestic sphere. However, the status of these productions remains to this day poorly defined and still discussed, both in their aims and their production methods. The proposed study focuses on the Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture (4950-4750 BC). The site of Vasseny (Aisne) provided a small lithic corpus that was well suited to the development of a detailed study method on simple productions.
This site , localised in the Aisne, has delivered a little occupation attributed to the end of the early Neolithic, more precisely to the Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture. This culture represents the final stage of the Danubian colonization in northern France and Belgium. On the site, at least three farmsteads were discovered. Around 1800 siliceous pieces were dug up and they constitute a small assemblage which was very suitable to led a study of so-called simple productions. Indeed, the status of these productions remains still unclear, both in their nature and their modalities of production. Thus, it is the level of know-how of the knappers which is at the moment discussed. These uncertainties result of the existence of very small facetted pieces on the BQY/VSG assemblages which are interpreted as cores or tools according to the researchers. Furthermore, the modalities of debitage are sometimes qualified of neglected due to a multidirectional operating scheme or more ordered by the identification of a successive unipolar scheme. More recently, a study tends to identify that these debitage are conducted by a flint hard hammerstone which provides technical marks close to the clumsiness ones (Biard et Riche, 2018). They argue that the knappers level of know-how could not be so bad. Thus, the anthropological implication is important for the restitution and the interpretation of the production’s organization of the tools in Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain context. Furthermore, Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain’s lithic production is based on a dual structure involving blade production, on the one hand and “simple” productions on the other. This raises the question of the status of knappers in charge of these productions. Indeed, does this duality opposing laminar productions / simple productions reflect the autonomy regarding the blade knappers of a whole section of the production of the supports of lithic tools? This disconnect between "complex" productions requiring high levels of know-how and a certain degree of artisanal specialization and domestic simple productions seems to be a model of production that will be successful during the Middle Neolithic.
So, this study includes the development of a fine studying method to highlight more precisely the objectives and the modalities of these productions. This method rests on two main elements: morphometric analysis and diacritical sketches. The morphometric analysis was performed on flakes tools and negatives of removal of cores and facetted pieces. Comparing the dimensions of the tools to these negatives of removals led us to isolate some facetted pieces which cannot provide flakes in agreement with the dimensions searched for flakes tools. It contributes so to identify two objectives of these productions. Furthermore, lots of these facetted pieces have some marks which can probably result from their use. The more they have, the less they can still produce flakes close to the unit needed. The diacritical sketches were also conducted on flakes tools, cores and facetted pieces. By this way, it is demonstrated that the modality of production is mainly based on successive sequences of unipolar debitage. To sum up, this study contributes to identify two simple productions. One is a flakes production and the other one is a facetted tools production. These two productions can be autonomous or integrated. They are realized using a hard hammer stone and the chaînes opératoires are simples without any predetermination.
The discussion integrates comparisons with other Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain sites where fine studies of simple productions were conducted. First, it must be underline that just few are available and mostly linked to the work of a collective research program (Allard et al., 2013, 2014 and 2015). The comparisons made suggest first that it seems that the simple productions are not homogenous at the scale of the Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture. In Upper-Normandy, the facetted tools production doesn’t seem to exist. In the contrary, the highlight of a laminar flakes production has never been made until now for the Paris Basin or the Belgium sites. On these last ones, particularly in the west part of Belgium, a production of “pseudo-fries” on edge flakes has been identified and seems peculiar to this region. So, the nature of these simple productions seems to be different, depending on the geographical and probably environmental contexts. Moreover, the operating mode of production couldn’t be the same in all the extension area of the culture studied. If recent studies have demonstrated the predominance of a unipolar method, somes still show a bipolar or a multidirectional organisation. The development of studies included diacritical sketches and quantification of the main patterns would in the future lead to a better overview of this possible heterogeneity of debitage organisations. In the same way, some have demonstrated the use of flint hammerstones on Upper-Normandy sites. I suggest that it is probably not the case everywhere, depending on the environment and the ease of the access to flint raw materials. This requires the continuation of experiments to have solid references including both types of mineral percussion, flint and stone. A fine comparison of marks, including quantitative data on the frequency of the different discriminant characters, will allow a re-examination of the different archaeological series to shed light on this question and that which underlies the level of expertise of the knappers. The simple productions, subject to a stabilization of the study method coupled with a multiplication of analyzes, could help to distinguish chronological or identity subgroups superimposed on the different technical traditions identified for the laminar production of the Blicquy / Villeneuve-Saint-Germain populations.
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)657-679
JournalBulletin de la Société Préhistorique Française
Volume116
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2019

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