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The beginning of the Beuronian with segments at Balagny-sur-Thérain (Oise, France)

Clément Paris, Thierry Ducrocq, Nicolas Cayol, Sylvie Coutard, Sylvain Griselin, Colas Guéret, Caroline Hamon et Charlotte Leduc
p. 215-267
Cet article est une traduction de :
Le début du Beuronien à segments à Balagny-sur-Thérain (Oise, France) [fr]

Résumés

Résumé. La fouille préventive du gisement de Balagny-sur-Thérain (Oise, France) a été réalisée en 2015. Situés dans la plaine alluviale du Thérain, deux secteurs ont été fouillés sur une surface totale de 441 m². Malgré une séquence stratigraphique compactée, la nappe de vestiges, composée de pièces lithiques et de quelques restes osseux, est bien conservée avec peu de bouleversements post-dépositionnels. Les mesures radiocarbone et les différentes études permettent de rattacher l’occupation au complexe des industries à pointes à base retouchée et segments connues dans le nord de France (« Beuronien à segments ») et datées entre 9200 et 8700 BP non calibré, soit entre 8500 et 7500 cal. BC. La fouille et l’étude de ces concentrations, spatialement proches, s’insère dans les problématiques actuelles sur la palethnologie et la mobilité de ces groupes mésolithiques. Balagny-sur-Thérain documente également la première partie de ce Beuronien à segments, avec quelques particularités qui se dégagent au niveau des armatures. Enfin, la découverte d’un fragment d’armature inséré dans un os de sanglier illustre de manière concrète les activités cynégétiques. Cette trouvaille est exceptionnelle dans le contexte du Mésolithique en France.

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Texte intégral

Location and stratigraphic context

1A rescue excavation of the Balagny-sur-Thérain site, located in the alluvial plain of the Thérain (fig. 1), was carried out in 2015. Two sectors were excavated over a total area of 441 m² (Meso I and Meso II, fig. 3). The stratigraphic sequence is compacted, but the layer of remains, composed of lithics and a few bone remains, is nonetheless well preserved, with little post-depositional disruption. After the departure of Mesolithic groups, this part of the valley was abandoned, which seems to have limited the possible mixing of material from diachronic occupation phases (palimpsests). The Mesolithic remains come from an overlying black, possibly loessic, silt. This blackish silt could correspond to a small horizon of marsh-type soil in a slightly hydromorphic environment and indicates a stabilisation of the alluvial plain. Topographically, the occupation is located on a flat area a few dozen to a few hundred metres from the river.

Fig. 1 – Geographic and topographic location of the Balagny-sur-Thérain site.

Fig. 1 – Geographic and topographic location of the Balagny-sur-Thérain site.

IGN, 1/25 000th and BD Alti.

Fig. 3 – Location of the excavated areas (orange), as well as of the related test and diagnostic trenches (beige).

Fig. 3 – Location of the excavated areas (orange), as well as of the related test and diagnostic trenches (beige).

Dotted lines: protohistoric and contemporary ditches; blue: remains uncovered during manual excavation (polygon) and mechanical excavation (blue circle).

Plan S. Hébert; CAD C. Paris.

Taphonomic elements

2From a taphonomic point of view, the industry is physically and typo-technologically homogeneous. No diachronic remains were observed, apart from a few easily identifiable Iron Age elements. There is some vertical dispersion of remains, but this is fairly typical in this type of context, mainly due to bioturbations. The initial organisation of the human occupation thus only seems to have been partially modified by natural processes after the site was abandoned. It is thus pertinent to proceed with the spatial distribution of remains in order to identify the different activity zones.

Radiocarbon dating

3The conservation of bone remains, particularly burnt bone, not only provides information on group subsistence practices, but also enabled us to obtain four radiocarbon measurements at around 9150 BP uncalibrated, i.e., 8400 cal. BC (fig. 6; table 2).

Fig. 6 – Radiocarbon dates from Balagny-sur-Thérain and their calibration (intcal 20).

Fig. 6 – Radiocarbon dates from Balagny-sur-Thérain and their calibration (intcal 20).

After Reimer et al. 2020.

Table 2 – List of radiocarbon dates from Balagny-sur-Thérain.

Table 2 – List of radiocarbon dates from Balagny-sur-Thérain.

Artefacts

4Lithics represent the bulk of the archaeological remains (N=2019), as they were not affected by weathering processes. Debitage took place in situ. The number of bone remains is however significant (N=208), especially for Meso II, but is probably largely underestimated due to poor bone preservation.

5The study of the lithic industry shows that the sole objective of the Balagny-sur-Thérain knappers was the production of blades/bladelets. All knapping stages seem to be represented, from initiation to abandonment. Microliths are largely predominant, showing that the primary production aim was to make arrowheads from laminar blanks. A few rare domestic-type tools complete the corpus.

6The modest-sized knapped blocks were selected from the vicinity of the site, probably from the valley floor. Shaping and knapping are simplified and reflect a certain opportunism (fig. 9). For example, block initialization follows natural convexities, and maintenance phases during knapping are reduced to a minimum. The produced blades/bladelets are fairly standardised, with rather small dimensions (around 5 cm in length), some irregularities, and a predominantly triangular cross-section. All these elements are characteristic of the Mesolithic, notably the "Coincy style" defined by J.-G. Rozoy (1968).

Fig. 9 – Various reassembly sequences of lithic cores from Meso II, presenting a single striking plane.

Fig. 9 – Various reassembly sequences of lithic cores from Meso II, presenting a single striking plane.

Photographs S. Lancelot.

7Mesolithic knappers selected relatively elongated blanks, with two sharp edges, a rectilinear profile and above all a thickness of between 4 and 2 mm. This last criterion was crucial for implementing the oblique fracturing process known as the microburin technique. The Balagny microlithic spectrum is essentially characterised by the association of segments and points with a retouched base (fig. 15). It was clearly geared towards the preparation of hunting with the production of microliths in situ, used to replace damaged elements.

Fig. 15 – Meso II microliths.

Fig. 15 – Meso II microliths.

1-6. Points with un-retouched bases; 7. Various microliths; 8-16. Points with retouched bases; 17-40. Lithic segments; 41-44. Triangles.

Drawings S. Lancelot.

8Some relatively rare retouched domestic-type tools were found alongside the microliths. These consist of 14 elements, including scrapers (4), burins (4) and retouched blades and flakes. Functional analysis on a sample of blanks also identified several used raw blades/bladelets (11). This analysis illustrates segments of operation chains geared towards the acquisition of foodstuffs (hunting and butchery). The identified activities, such as scraping hide and rigid vegetation, are most certainly secondary to the main hunting function.

9The lithic industry is also characterised by three Montmorencian-type prismatic tools. These tools are linked to specific activities (Griselin 2021) and are part of the Beuronian tradition found throughout the Paris Basin.

10Bone remains are often burnt and fragmented (71% of bone remains), but also comprise some large unburnt elements. Part of the faunal remains from Mesolithic occupations generally come from combustion waste. However, spongy bone is considered to be better fuel than compact bones. The combined presence of compact and spongy bone fragments in the burnt remains of Balagny-sur-Thérain does not point to the use of bone as fuel, but suggests rather that bone waste was intentionally or unintentionally thrown into the fire.

11This bone assemblage results from one or more hunting episodes targeting wild boar populations, particularly females accompanied by their young. Similar hunting strategies are often documented at other contemporaneous sites in the region. In view of the small number of hunted individuals (MNIf=3), these appear to be relatively short occupations of small human groups, with the slaughter and processing of whole carcasses on site, for the immediate consumption of resources.

12The discovery of a projectile impact with lithic fragments embedded in a wild boar humerus, and above all, the possible healing of this wound, provides concrete evidence of hunting activities (fig. 26). This find is exceptional in a Mesolithic context in France.

Fig. 26 – Top: projectile point impact(s) with lithic fragment embedded (1 and 2) in the cranio-lateral surface of a wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2 (photographs F. Verdelet; CAD C. Leduc); center: detail of the embedded lithic within the cranio-lateral surface of a wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2. A. General view of embedded lithic fragments 1 and 2 (magnification × 8); B. Detail of embedded lithic fragment 2 (magnification × 20); C. Detail of embedded lithic fragment 1 (magnification × 12; photographs C. Guéret; CAD C. Leduc). Bottom: reconstruction of the angle and orientation of the shot responsible for the projectile point impact producing three embedded fragments within the wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2.

Fig. 26 – Top: projectile point impact(s) with lithic fragment embedded (1 and 2) in the cranio-lateral surface of a wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2 (photographs F. Verdelet; CAD C. Leduc); center: detail of the embedded lithic within the cranio-lateral surface of a wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2. A. General view of embedded lithic fragments 1 and 2 (magnification × 8); B. Detail of embedded lithic fragment 2 (magnification × 20); C. Detail of embedded lithic fragment 1 (magnification × 12; photographs C. Guéret; CAD C. Leduc). Bottom: reconstruction of the angle and orientation of the shot responsible for the projectile point impact producing three embedded fragments within the wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2.

Chronocultural attribution

13Radiocarbon measurements and the lithic study show that the Mesolithic occupation is linked to the complex of industries in the north of France with retouched base points and segments, dated between 9200 and 8700 BP uncalibrated ("segmented Beuronian"), i.e., between 8500 and 7500 cal. BC (Ducrocq 2009). Dating shows that the Balagny-sur-Thérain deposit corresponds in particular to the first part of this Beuronian with segments. This assemblage is characterised by some original features. The morphometry of segments and retouched base points is clearly distinguishable in typical Beuronian industries but somewhat different here. In addition, the excavation of this site confirms once again the attribution of Montmorencian-type prismatic tools to regional Mesolithic industries with points with retouched bases.

Spatial analysis and function of the site

14In terms of spatial distribution, three concentrations of remains were observed (one on Meso I and two on Meso II - North and South). They are similar in size, extend over a small area of about ten square metres each and are composed of several hundred pieces. The remains are essentially lithic and faunal, with an area containing heated elements that could be interpreted as a non-constructed hearth. Functional analysis reveals diversified but not very intense activities (flint knapping, repair of hunting weapons, carcass processing, hide scraping, etc.). Hunting activities are oriented towards wild boar, but the minimum number of individuals is relatively low. The occupation(s) therefore appear(s) to be brief, with disparately intense activities per concentration, with, for example, more varied and abundant remains to the north of Meso II.

Conclusions

15On account of the typology of the microlithic lithic assemblage, dominated by segments and retouched base points, this assemblage can clearly be linked to a series of sites in northern France dated to the end of the Preboreal chronozone or the first half of the Boreal chronozone. The excavation of these closely clustered concentrations is part of current research on the palethnology and mobility of these groups. The Balagny-sur-Thérain site thus shows once again that the juxtaposition of several concentrations does not necessarily correspond to a series of brief occupations but can, in certain cases, be explained by a more extensive settlement materialised by strictly contemporaneous concomitant concentrations (Ducrocq, 2013). The continued study of these groups should yield abundant data on this phase of the Mesolithic, in particular in order to address questions of territoriality and the palethnological reconstruction of these societies.

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Bibliographie

Ducrocq T. 2009 – Éléments de chronologie absolue du Mésolithique dans le Nord de la France, in Crombé P., Van Strydonck M., Sergant J., Boudin M., Bats M. (dir.), Chronology and Evolution within the Mesolithic of North-West Europe, Newcastle, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, p. 345-362.

Ducrocq T. 2013 – Le Beuronien à segments dans le Nord de la France. Prémices d’une approche palethnologique, in Valentin B., Souffi B., Ducrocq T., Fagnart J.-P., Seara F., Verjux C., Palethnographie du Mésolithique, Recherches sur les habitats de plein air entre Loire et Neckar. Actes de la Table ronde internationale de Paris (26-27 novembre 2010), Paris, Société Préhistorique Française, p. 189-206.

Griselin S. avec la collaboration de Hamon C. 2021 – Fabrication et fonction des outils de type montmorencien. Nouveau regard à partir des découvertes récentes sur les habitats mésolithiques, Paris, Société Préhistorique Française (Mémoires de la Société Préhistorique française 66), 234 p.

Rozoy J.-G. 1968 – L'étude du matériel brut et des microburins dans l'Épipaléolithique (Mésolithique) franco-belge, Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 65 (1), p. 365-390.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1 – Geographic and topographic location of the Balagny-sur-Thérain site.
Crédits IGN, 1/25 000th and BD Alti.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 317k
Titre Fig. 3 – Location of the excavated areas (orange), as well as of the related test and diagnostic trenches (beige).
Légende Dotted lines: protohistoric and contemporary ditches; blue: remains uncovered during manual excavation (polygon) and mechanical excavation (blue circle).
Crédits Plan S. Hébert; CAD C. Paris.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Titre Fig. 6 – Radiocarbon dates from Balagny-sur-Thérain and their calibration (intcal 20).
Crédits After Reimer et al. 2020.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 51k
Titre Table 2 – List of radiocarbon dates from Balagny-sur-Thérain.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 103k
Titre Fig. 9 – Various reassembly sequences of lithic cores from Meso II, presenting a single striking plane.
Crédits Photographs S. Lancelot.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 162k
Titre Fig. 15 – Meso II microliths.
Légende 1-6. Points with un-retouched bases; 7. Various microliths; 8-16. Points with retouched bases; 17-40. Lithic segments; 41-44. Triangles.
Crédits Drawings S. Lancelot.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 202k
Titre Fig. 26 – Top: projectile point impact(s) with lithic fragment embedded (1 and 2) in the cranio-lateral surface of a wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2 (photographs F. Verdelet; CAD C. Leduc); center: detail of the embedded lithic within the cranio-lateral surface of a wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2. A. General view of embedded lithic fragments 1 and 2 (magnification × 8); B. Detail of embedded lithic fragment 2 (magnification × 20); C. Detail of embedded lithic fragment 1 (magnification × 12; photographs C. Guéret; CAD C. Leduc). Bottom: reconstruction of the angle and orientation of the shot responsible for the projectile point impact producing three embedded fragments within the wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa) humerus at Balagny-sur-Thérain, sector 2.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/3891/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 209k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Clément Paris, Thierry Ducrocq, Nicolas Cayol, Sylvie Coutard, Sylvain Griselin, Colas Guéret, Caroline Hamon et Charlotte Leduc, « The beginning of the Beuronian with segments at Balagny-sur-Thérain (Oise, France) »Gallia Préhistoire, 62 | -1, 215-267.

Référence électronique

Clément Paris, Thierry Ducrocq, Nicolas Cayol, Sylvie Coutard, Sylvain Griselin, Colas Guéret, Caroline Hamon et Charlotte Leduc, « The beginning of the Beuronian with segments at Balagny-sur-Thérain (Oise, France) »Gallia Préhistoire [En ligne], 62 | 2022, mis en ligne le 22 juin 2023, consulté le 28 mai 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/3891 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/galliap.3891

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Auteurs

Clément Paris

INRAP Hauts-de-France, Passel, ArScAn UMR 8068 Temps, Paris – France

Thierry Ducrocq

INRAP Hauts-de-France, Glisy – France

Nicolas Cayol

INRAP Hauts-de-France, Passel, UMR 8215 Trajectoires, Paris – France

Articles du même auteur

Sylvie Coutard

INRAP Hauts-de-France, Glisy, UMR 8591 LGP-Environnements Quaternaires et Actuels, Meudon – France

Sylvain Griselin

INRAP Grand-Est, Strasbourg, UMR 8068 Temps, membre rattaché à l’UMR 7044 Archimède – France

Colas Guéret

UMR 8068 Temps, Paris – France

Caroline Hamon

CNRS, UMR 8215 Trajectoires, Paris – France

Articles du même auteur

Charlotte Leduc

Inrap Grand-Est, Metz – France

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