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An original example in Provence of Recent/Late Neolithic collective burial: the site of Collet-Redon (Martigues)

Aurore Schmitt, Bruno Bizot, Vincent Ollivier, Victor Canut, Jean-Louis Guendon, Laurine Viel, Claude Vella et Daniel Borschneck
avec la collaboration de Laure Ploquin
Traduction de Louise Byrne
p. 5-7
Cet article est une traduction de :
Un exemple inédit en Provence de sépulture collective du Néolithique récent/final : le site de Collet-Redon (Martigues) [fr]

Résumés

Découverte en 2006, une sépulture collective, située à 200 m au nord du site de Collet-Redon à La Couronne (Bouches-du-Rhône), a fait l’objet de deux campagnes de fouilles en 2014 et 2015. Localisée dans le fond du vallon des Chappats dont l’activité sédimentaire a permis sa conservation, elle est implantée dans une fosse et bénéficie d’un dispositif bâti et d’un pavage. Deux couches ont été identifiées. La première semble avoir reçu des dépôts primaires, en partie vidangée par la suite. La seconde est composée d’un individu incomplet en connexion et d’un amas d’ossements dissociés le long d’une des parois. Au moins 11 individus (adultes et immatures) sont nécessaires pour expliquer la composition de la série ostéologique. Le mobilier associé aux défunts se limite à 7 perles en calcaire. Quatre datations sur os humains situent l’utilisation de la tombe au Néolithique récent ou au tout début du Néolithique final, avant le plein développement des sépultures collectives en Provence. La position chronologique, la localisation, l’originalité du dispositif bâti ainsi que les caractéristiques du fonctionnement de cette sépulture sont discutées à la lumière des connaissances actuelles des pratiques funéraires de la fin du Néolithique dans le midi de la France.

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Notes de la rédaction

This article is not quite a traduction but rather is a long summary of the french article « Un exemple inédit en Provence de sépulture collective du Néolithique récent/final : le site de Collet-Redon (Martigues) ».

Texte intégral

1The site of Collet-Redon (La Couronne, Martigues) was excavated between 1960 and 1982 and yielded domestic occupations from the Late Neolithic and the Bronze Age. In 2006, a collective grave was discovered during the digging of a trench for palaeoenvironmental observations, 200 m to the north of the site in the Chappats valley (Cauliez et al. 2006). After a test excavation, and in the absence of archaeological objects, a radiocarbon date on human bone placed the tomb between the Middle and Late Neolithic (3632-3372 cal. BC). Considering the paucity of funerary data for this period in Provence, this site is of major interest and was thus exhaustively excavated over two seasons in 2014 and 2015.

2The Chappats valley is on the southern outgrowth of the Cretaceous anticline of the Nerthe mountain range. This relatively sinuous valley carves a path to the Mediterranean (Anse du Verdon) through Cretaceous limestone and Miocene calcarenites in discordance on the latter (fig. 2). The section studied at the level of the grave corresponds to one of the most marked sinuosities and is conducive to trapping Holocene sediments (fig. 4). The sediments are not very thick, in keeping with the low sedimentary supplies and transits in this type of dry valley, and rapid destocking during the most significant morphogenic events. The sedimentary sequences of the Chappats valley only occur in a modest Holocene infilling with homogenous morphology (near absence of organization in terraces) lying directly on the Valanginian substratum. A relatively “calm hydrometeorological” period characterizes conditions contemporaneous with the grave (Benito et al. 2015a and 2015b). This is associated with a stabilization of sedimentation before a new incision phase. Around 1800-1500 cal. BC, stormy episodes and Mediterranean floods increased in intensity (Sabatier et al. 2012), possibly reactivating episodes of gully erosion and the interlocking of sedimentary layers. The frequency and intensity of this trend are accentuated until the Little Ice Age. However, this intervenes in a context marked by very low sedimentary productions and transits, given the climatic context and the intrinsic characteristics of the catchment basin. In addition to the location of the grave at a slope discontinuity forming a ledge and a sinuous section of the valley, these different elements guaranteed its conservation.

Fig. 2. Paleoenvironmental trench and the grave in their geological and geomorphological context

Fig. 2. Paleoenvironmental trench and the grave in their geological and geomorphological context

CAD: V. Ollivier, LAMPEA

Fig. 4. The catchment area of the vallon des Chappats and the location of the geomorpholocial paleoenvironmental trench opened in 2006

Fig. 4. The catchment area of the vallon des Chappats and the location of the geomorpholocial paleoenvironmental trench opened in 2006

CAD: V. Ollivier, LAMPEA

3The grave is aligned along a northeast/southwest axis and is implanted in a rectangular pit 2.4 m long by 2.2 m wide, conserved over a depth of 25 cm. To the east, about 0.6 m2 were removed by the digging of the geomorphological trench leading to its discovery (fig. 10). Two parallel walls were built against the north-western and south-eastern walls. Each of them is made of two large foundation blocks (fig. 11 and 12).

Fig. 10. Plan of the pit, the walls, the edges, the bones of SU 7 and pairings

Fig. 10. Plan of the pit, the walls, the edges, the bones of SU 7 and pairings

CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES

Fig. 11. Overhead photo of the first foundation of the northwest wall

Fig. 11. Overhead photo of the first foundation of the northwest wall

Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES

Fig. 12. Plan of the pit, walls, borders and paving in SU 12 and the bones in SU 11

Fig. 12. Plan of the pit, walls, borders and paving in SU 12 and the bones in SU 11

CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES

4These blocks come from landslides of the local substratum (Cretaceous limestone) available near the site and were not shaped. The north-eastern edge is different from the other walls. A stone was placed on its side in a small trench carved into the substratum. The northern half of the south-western edge is made up of several stones with smaller dimensions than those used for the walls. They present a dip towards the east. This edge was partly damaged by SU 13 in the continuity of the south-western edge. It is an oval pit carved into the substratum (fig. 18). Part of the surface of the grave is covered in paving made up of decimetre-scale stones (fig. 14 and 19). It was built after the walls and the first funerary occupation.

Fig. 18. Northwest/southeast profile of the pit, SU 13 and the infilling of the tomb

Fig. 18. Northwest/southeast profile of the pit, SU 13 and the infilling of the tomb

CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES

Fig. 14. Plan of the paving, the built structure and SU 13

Fig. 14. Plan of the paving, the built structure and SU 13

CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES

Fig. 19. Overhead view of the paving and the built structure

Fig. 19. Overhead view of the paving and the built structure

Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES

5The infilling is made up of two layers (fig. 8 and 9). SU 11 (layer 1), the lower level of the infilling, extends over the whole surface. It covered bones in connection and dissociated bones. SU 7 (layer 2) is a brown silty series, with very rare small gravels. It covered the paving and the dissociated bones as well as an incomplete individual in connection. The grave and the infilling were covered by SU 9 (fig. 20), a stony-clayey sediment that extended slightly beyond the tomb area, in particular to the west where the density of stones decreases progressively.

Fig. 8. northwest/southeast profile (Agiscan and QGIS) of the SU constituting the infilling of the pit and location of the samples

Fig. 8. northwest/southeast profile (Agiscan and QGIS) of the SU constituting the infilling of the pit and location of the samples

Fig. 9. Northeast/southwest profile (Agiscan and QGIS) of the SU constituting the infilling of the pit and location of the samples

Fig. 9. Northeast/southwest profile (Agiscan and QGIS) of the SU constituting the infilling of the pit and location of the samples

CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES

Fig. 20. View from the east of SU 9

Fig. 20. View from the east of SU 9

Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES

6The grave was excavated and recorded in accordance with the principles of field anthropology (Duday 2005). Layer 2 contains the remains of primary deposits, probably subsequently partly emptied. The MNI is 3 adults and 3 immature individuals. The most represented bones are carpals and phalanges (fig. 24). Layer 1 contains an incomplete individual in connection, situated on the paving, and a heap of dissociated bones along the north-eastern wall (fig. 12 and 27). The best represented bones are long bones. The MNI is 8 (6 adults and 2 children). The formation and the internal chronology of the secondary deposit may correspond to several scenarios. They may be the repeated “reduction” of individuals deposited on the paving but nothing proves that these individuals were not already partially decomposed when they were placed in the grave. The missing elements are the most fragile and may have undergone differential conservation. However, these bones are also those that were not necessarily collected if the dry bones were transferred from the place where the corpses decomposed. They may also be bones from the second layer that were moved to install the paving but were kept in the tomb. In view of this hypothesis, the overall MNI is limited to 7 adults and 4 immature individuals. But the refits and matches observed on the bone and dental material show no link between the two funerary layers.

Fig. 24. NMPS of the bones from SU 11

Fig. 24. NMPS of the bones from SU 11

CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES

Fig. 27. Overhead view of the secondary deposit of SU 7

Fig. 27. Overhead view of the secondary deposit of SU 7

Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES

7The objects associated with the deceased are made up of seven limestone beads (fig. 28). This type of bead is present throughout the Neolithic (Barge-Mahieu 1982).

Fig. 28. Macroscopic photographs of the beads from the grave

Fig. 28. Macroscopic photographs of the beads from the grave

Macroscope Leica Z16 AP0 and Canon 1100D (Beads 1 to 6), stereomicroscope Leica S8 AP0 and Canon 6D WG (bead 7). Magnification x 9.5, except bead  3 x 14 and bead 7 x 17

Photo: L. Viel, LAMPEA

8Four dates on human bones place the beginning of funerary activity between 3710 and 3360 cal. BC and the end between 3490 and 3030 cal. BC.

9In spite of the limits of reconstruction of the internal functioning of the grave, there is no doubt that it was a collective burial. Several individuals were successively buried in the grave and the preservation of the deceased integrity does not seem to have been a prerogative of the group burying the corpses. This is one of the characteristics of the collective funerary system during the Late Neolithic in the South (Sauzade 1983; Leclerc 1999 and 2003; Chambon 2003; Chambon and Blin 2013), currently defined by its functioning. One of the original characteristics of this grave is its chronological position. The genesis of the collective grave in the southeast of France is still topical today. Several sites, particularly in caves (Claustre et al. 1993; Valentin et al. 2003; Guilaine et al. 2015), have yielded plural deposits dating from the Middle Neolithic but the link between these poorly documented deposits and collective graves from the Late Neolithic is not clear, as they were excavated a long time ago or underwent multiple reworking phases linked to the evolution of the cavity infill. Successively deceased corpses were buried together since the Early Neolithic in this region (Coste et al. 1987) but the funerary and social ideology regulating burials was probably very different from the ideology at the end of the Neolithic. The expression “collective grave” includes many configurations which are probably not linked in any way, which explains the discontinuity of this practice in time.

10In Provence, the dolmen from the Château-Blanc funerary complex (Hasler et al. 2002) and perhaps monument ST8 from Juilléras (Lemercier 2010b), are in the same chronological horizon as the Collet-Redon grave. They also contained few individuals. But graves during the third millennium also contain few individuals (Cros et al. 2010) and this cannot be considered as a characteristic of the earliest collective graves.

11Moreover, the chrono-cultural framework of the transition period between the Middle and Late Neolithic is still poorly characterized. The question of the first constructors and users of the first collective graves in Provence remains open.

12The Collet-Redon grave is installed in a rectangular pit, with a built structure against some of the walls. The choice of construction materials is opportunistic as they were available nearby and were not shaped. The structure appears to have been covered but could be repeatedly accessed. However, it was not possible to reconstruct the elevation of the horizontal and vertical position of the covering. A mixed structure in stone and perishable materials seems to be very plausible. This grave with no corridor or tumulus is neither megalithic or monumental. This architecture has not been recorded elsewhere in the southeast of France. It is also difficult to explain the role of this funerary structure in a complex where the most frequent type of grave is the dolmen. On account of the wide time bracket of the radiocarbon dates and the absence of significant objects, it is difficult to determine the possible antecedence of the Collet-Redon grave in relation to the first megalithic collective graves of the region, as they may also precede it by one or two centuries or be contemporaneous. In any event, it appears risky to consider it as the “prototype” of more elaborate funerary architectures. We prefer the hypothesis of a tomb reflecting the same practices as any other Late Neolithic collective grave, but with a more modest and perhaps opportunistic form, if we consider the economy of materials and the fact that they were taken from the immediate environment.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 2. Paleoenvironmental trench and the grave in their geological and geomorphological context
Crédits CAD: V. Ollivier, LAMPEA
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,1M
Titre Fig. 4. The catchment area of the vallon des Chappats and the location of the geomorpholocial paleoenvironmental trench opened in 2006
Crédits CAD: V. Ollivier, LAMPEA
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,0M
Titre Fig. 10. Plan of the pit, the walls, the edges, the bones of SU 7 and pairings
Crédits CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 605k
Titre Fig. 11. Overhead photo of the first foundation of the northwest wall
Crédits Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2M
Titre Fig. 12. Plan of the pit, walls, borders and paving in SU 12 and the bones in SU 11
Crédits CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 838k
Titre Fig. 18. Northwest/southeast profile of the pit, SU 13 and the infilling of the tomb
Crédits CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 149k
Titre Fig. 14. Plan of the paving, the built structure and SU 13
Crédits CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 678k
Titre Fig. 19. Overhead view of the paving and the built structure
Crédits Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,8M
Titre Fig. 8. northwest/southeast profile (Agiscan and QGIS) of the SU constituting the infilling of the pit and location of the samples
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 151k
Titre Fig. 9. Northeast/southwest profile (Agiscan and QGIS) of the SU constituting the infilling of the pit and location of the samples
Crédits CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 157k
Titre Fig. 20. View from the east of SU 9
Crédits Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2M
Titre Fig. 24. NMPS of the bones from SU 11
Crédits CAD: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 326k
Titre Fig. 27. Overhead view of the secondary deposit of SU 7
Crédits Photo: A. Schmitt, ADES
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,0M
Titre Fig. 28. Macroscopic photographs of the beads from the grave
Légende Macroscope Leica Z16 AP0 and Canon 1100D (Beads 1 to 6), stereomicroscope Leica S8 AP0 and Canon 6D WG (bead 7). Magnification x 9.5, except bead  3 x 14 and bead 7 x 17
Crédits Photo: L. Viel, LAMPEA
URL http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/docannexe/image/646/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 576k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Aurore Schmitt, Bruno Bizot, Vincent Ollivier, Victor Canut, Jean-Louis Guendon, Laurine Viel, Claude Vella et Daniel Borschneck, « An original example in Provence of Recent/Late Neolithic collective burial: the site of Collet-Redon (Martigues) »Gallia Préhistoire, 58 | 2018, 5-7.

Référence électronique

Aurore Schmitt, Bruno Bizot, Vincent Ollivier, Victor Canut, Jean-Louis Guendon, Laurine Viel, Claude Vella et Daniel Borschneck, « An original example in Provence of Recent/Late Neolithic collective burial: the site of Collet-Redon (Martigues) »Gallia Préhistoire [En ligne], 58 | 2018, mis en ligne le 30 mai 2018, consulté le 25 octobre 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/galliap/646; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/galliap.646

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Auteurs

Aurore Schmitt

Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, EFS, ADES, faculté de médecine Nord, 51 boulevard Pierre Dramard, 13344 Marseille cedex 15 — aurore.schmitt@univ.amu.fr

Bruno Bizot

DRAC PACA, 23 boulevard du Roi-René, 13617 Aix-en-Provence Cedex 1 et Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, EFS, ADES, faculté de médecine Nord, 51 boulevard Pierre Dramard, 13344 Marseille cedex 15 — bruno.bizot@culture.gouv.fr

Vincent Ollivier

Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, Minist Culture & Com, LAMPEA, 5 rue du Château de l’Horloge, 13094 Aix-en-Provence — ollivier@mmsh.univ-aix.fr

Victor Canut

Service archéologique de la ville de Martigues, 16 boulevard Joliot-Curie, 13500 Martigues — victor.canut@ville-martigues.fr

Jean-Louis Guendon

Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, Minist Culture & Com, LAMPEA, 5 rue du Château de l’Horloge, 13094 Aix-en-Provence — j.l.guendon@orange.fr

Laurine Viel

Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, Minist Culture & Com, LAMPEA, 5 rue du Château de l’Horloge, 13094 Aix-en-Provence — laurineviel@wanadoo.fr

Claude Vella

Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, INRA, Coll France, CEREGE, Europôle méditerranéen de l’Arbois, avenue Louis Philiber, 13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 04 — vella@cerege.fr

Daniel Borschneck

Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, IRD, INRA, Coll France, CEREGE, Europôle méditerranéen de l’Arbois, avenue Louis Philiber, 13545 Aix-en-Provence cedex 04 — borschneck@cerege.fr

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Collaborateur

Laure Ploquin

Aix-Marseille Univ, CNRS, EFS, ADES, faculté de médecine Nord, 51 boulevard Pierre Dramard, 13344 Marseille cedex 15 — pixelaure@aol.fr

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Droits d’auteur

Gallia Préhistoire

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