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Twenty years on, a new date with Lascaux. Reassessing the chronology of the cave’s Paleolithic occupations through new 14C AMS dating

« Speed dating » à Lascaux. De nouveaux repères 14C pour les occupations paléolithiques de la grotte
Sylvain Ducasse and Mathieu Langlais
p. 130-147

Abstracts

Aside from the stylistic debates and quarrels fueled by the studies of its painted and engraved walls, the Lascaux Cave stands out by its very weak and contradictory radiometric framework (Delluc and Delluc 2012). In addition to this, no comprehensive, interdisciplinary study of the rich archaeological assemblages has been conducted for almost forty years (Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979). The LAsCO project (Langlais and Ducasse coord.) aims to fill this gap by proposing a global reassessment of the osseous and lithic artifacts, ornaments, ochres and lamps. As part of this work, a new effort has been made to clarify the Paleolithic chronology of the human activities documented by this stratified evidence. Five reindeer remains taken from the cave’s main areas (Axial Gallery, Passageway, Nave, Shaft), some showing clear evidence of anthropic exploitation, were therefore selected to be dated in order to test (1) the chronological homogeneity of the occupations, as already suggested by a high typo-technological coherence and, if this was confirmed, (2) the hypothesis of an attribution to the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition phase, as indicated by prior inter-site comparisons (Langlais 2010 ; Ducasse et al. 2011; DEX_TER project: Ducasse and Langlais coord.). All the selected samples were sent to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) and run on a MIni CArbon DAting System (MICADAS) after an ultrafiltration pretreatment. While the sample from the Passageway area failed due to low collagen yield, the other four produced reliable and highly comparable measurements centered on a 14C age of 17,600 uncal. BP (21.5-21 cal ka BP). These results confirm the two basic assumptions described above and contradict the diachronic framework defined by the 1948-2002 radiometric data, while restoring a certain degree of chronological consistency which fits well with the main typo-technological features of the lithic and osseous equipment (Allain 1979, Leroy-Prost 2008 and ongoing analysis). After a brief outline of the existing radiometric data and a detailed description of the sampling and dating strategy, the reliability of the results and their impact on our understanding of the cave’s phase(s) of occupation(s) are discussed in depth. While the issue of the precise “cultural” attribution of the dated assemblages and the links between the latter and the parietal art are beyond the scope of this paper, these new data represent a first but significant step towards a global renewal of the highly controversial chronological framework of the Lascaux Cave.

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This research was carried out as part of the LAsCO and DEX_TER projects, both coordinated by the authors and funded by the Direction Regionale des Affaires Culturelles de Nouvelle Aquitaine (French Ministry for Culture) and the LabEx Cluster of Excellence “LaScArBx” (ANR-10-LABX-52). We are grateful to Jean-Jacques Cleyet-Merle, director of the MNP, for granting us access to the Lascaux collections and to Catherine Cretin for ensuring the best possible study conditions. We would like to thank Le Bugue Town Hall for delegating the responsibility for the Glory collection to the MNP, including the dated artifacts. We would also like to thank Stéphane Madelaine for his helpful advice and availability during the sample selection phase. Many thanks to Xavier Muth for the bone pictures derived from the 3D photogrammetric models and to Brigitte Delluc and Valerie Feruglio for providing us with highly valuable information about the previous 14C dating programs. Our sincere thanks to Aitor Ruiz-Redondo for his last minute proofreading and to William Banks for his linguistic help. We would like to thank Emma Henderson, Thomas Higham and staff from the ORAU laboratory. Lastly, we are grateful to the four reviewers for their very useful and constructive suggestions that helped us to improve the initial manuscript.

1 | The Lascaux Paradox: the shoemaker’s children always go barefoot

1The story of the age and cultural attribution of the parietal art of Lascaux is a long-running one: the most famous Paleolithic painted cave is also one of the least understood in terms of chronology. This question is far from trivial, however, as locating Lascaux through time means placing it within a techno-socio-economic environment, as part of a wider dynamic anthropological system. From the very first Gravettian hypothesis proposed by H. Breuil or D. Peyrony (Breuil 1950 - p. 361 and raised again in Jaubert 2008 - p. 462-463) to the Solutrean attribution defended notably by N. Aujoulat (Aujoulat 2004) and the more “traditional” Magdalenian theory (Glory 1964 ; Allain 1979 ; Delluc and Delluc 2012), no consensus would appear to be emerging after nearly 80 years of scientific debate. The relevance of this simple question is open to debate, since the idealized homogeneous Lascaux could theoretically house several Lascaux as prehistorians have often noted (e.g. Leroi-Gourhan 1971 - p. 258 ; Aujoulat 2004 - p. 56-61). The elements used to argue in favor of these chronocultural assumptions are uneven and based mostly on (1) stylistic comparisons (sometimes compared with sites that are also poorly dated, leading to circular reasoning) and/or (2) archaeological remains discovered during the early surveys (i.e. the Ravidat and Laval collections), the construction of the ventilation system (1957-1958) and the Breuil, Blanc, Bourgon (1948-1949) and Glory (1960-1961) excavations in the Shaft.

2Beside the main typo-technological features of the lithic and osseous industries variously considered as chronoculturally diagnostic (Allain 1979) or, on the contrary, ubiquitous (Aujoulat 2004 - p. 59), the archaeological record has frequently been used as datable material (i.e. charcoal : see below), since the black paintings of Lascaux remain undatable because of the use of manganese dioxide. Less well known is the fact that Lascaux went down in the history of radiometric dating by being one of the first Paleolithic sites to be dated by the inventor of the radiocarbon method himself (Arnold and Libby 1951). Thus, forty years before the Chauvet case (Chauvet et al. 1995 – p. 110-114), the very first charcoal 14C ages from Lascaux already upset the stylistic chronology, contradicting the “Pope of Paleolithic Prehistory” who did not accept the results (Breuil 1954) and ushering in the still-debated issue of the contemporaneity between the paintings and the archaeological assemblages (e.g. Nougier 1963 - p. 29).

3Despite this controversy, one could argue that conservation issues have dominated scientific research (e.g. Lacanette et al. 2007 ; Martin-Sanchez et al. 2014 ; Lacanette and Malaurent 2015 ; Xu et al. 2015), and in turn the so-called “Sistine Chapel of Prehistory” has been “sanctuarized” by prehistorians, not only physically but also scientifically. Aside from the important work conducted on the parietal art (e.g. Aujoulat 2004, 2002 ; Chalmin et al. 2004) and one-off research led in the framework of the recent publication of Glory’s unfinished monograph (e.g. Leroy-Prost 2008 ; Vannoorenberghe 2008 ; see below), no comprehensive, interdisciplinary study of the rich archaeological assemblages has been done for years now. As the 2020s approach, new attribution arguments are therefore rare and only five discordant radiocarbon dates are available to discuss the chronological issue of the Upper Paleolithic occupations of the cave. Only two of them have been obtained since the 1979 monograph (see below).

4After being at the forefront of the emerging radiometric dating method, the Lascaux archaeological context has been under-explored for several years despite the thorny questions raised about its homogeneity, age and chronocultural attribution. The LAsCO project aims to fill this gap by proposing a global reassessment of the archaeological remains. As part of this, a new effort has been made to clarify the chronology of the Paleolithic human activities documented by this stratified evidence. Before the detailed presentation of the typo-technological and functional analyses of the lithic and osseous equipment, and setting aside the issue of their links with the parietal assemblages (beyond the scope of this paper), we present here the results of a new dating program, reopening the debate twenty years on, in the light of new dating practices and quite new comparison data.

2 | Review of the existing data: a sixty-year story

5Proposing a solid review of the available radiometric data from the Lascaux Cave (tabl. 1 and fig. 1) amounts to an exegesis of different sources whose degree of precision is highly variable. As is often the case with radiometric data, it is crucial to return to the original sources, as several contradictions can appear from one paper to another. In this specific case, and besides the re-transcription errors, some of these contradictions can be explained by constant improvements to the dating method with “real-time” effect, as illustrated by the Groningen ages corrected by the laboratory in light of the “Suess-effect” (Suess 1955) (table 1: GrO lab code became GrN after correction). A. Glory’s papers and archives, the latter luckily published by G. and B. Delluc (Glory 2008), remain indispensable since the prehistorian conscientiously reported a lot of information regarding the nature, size (sometimes very precisely) and location of the dated samples. He also summed up the discussion with the laboratories when needed, allowing us to follow his global strategy step by step and discuss the results critically. On the contrary, apart from the recent dating effort focused on the calcite flowstone (see below and Genty et al. 2011), we will see that the publication of the direct AMS ages on osseous equipment (Aujoulat et al. 1998 versus Delluc and Delluc 2012 versus Valladas et al. 2013) suffers from imprecisions and contradictions that unfortunately limit our interpretations.

Tableau 1. Summary of 14C ages obtained at Lascaux Cave from 1951 to 2011. *: refers to the codification system used by C. Leroy-Prost (Leroy-Prost 2008). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).
Récapitulatif de l’ensemble des mesures 14C obtenues à Lascaux entre 1951 et 2011. * : codification utilisée par C. Leroy-Prost (Leroy-Prost 2008).

Tableau 1. Summary of 14C ages obtained at Lascaux Cave from 1951 to 2011. *: refers to the codification system used by C. Leroy-Prost (Leroy-Prost 2008). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Récapitulatif de l’ensemble des mesures 14C obtenues à Lascaux entre 1951 et 2011. * : codification utilisée par C. Leroy-Prost (Leroy-Prost 2008).

Figure 1. A sixty-year story: summary of the 1951-2011 14C ages from Lascaux (beta counting and AMS methods) and currently accepted calibrated chronological intervals for the main areas of the cave (see table 1; cave plan from Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979, figure 22, modified).
Soixante ans d’histoire : bilan des datations 14C obtenues à Lascaux entre 1951 et 2011 (comptage Beta et SMA) et intervalles chronologiques calibrés pour chacun des principaux secteurs de la grotte (cf. tableau 1 ; plan de la grotte d’après Leroi-Gourhan et Allain 1979, figure 22, modifié).

Figure 1. A sixty-year story: summary of the 1951-2011 14C ages from Lascaux (beta counting and AMS methods) and currently accepted calibrated chronological intervals for the main areas of the cave (see table 1; cave plan from Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979, figure 22, modified).Soixante ans d’histoire : bilan des datations 14C obtenues à Lascaux entre 1951 et 2011 (comptage Beta et SMA) et intervalles chronologiques calibrés pour chacun des principaux secteurs de la grotte (cf. tableau 1 ; plan de la grotte d’après Leroi-Gourhan et Allain 1979, figure 22, modifié).

6Whereas all the 14C ages on charcoal, organic matter and antler artifacts are reported in table 1 with details of the major inconsistencies, the following sub-section proposes a comprehensive review of the four main dating programs carried-out since 1951.

2.1 | The initial dating effort by Glory: first tests on charcoal (1951-1962)

7The very first Lascaux samples that were selected for dating by the 14C method correspond to charcoals discovered during the 1948-1949 excavation of the Shaft by H. Breuil, S. Blanc and M. Bourgon. These charcoals were collected between several blocks that were interpreted as stone lamps by the excavators and were sent to W.F. Libby and J.R. Arnold from the Chicago laboratory. The result of 15,566 ± 900 BP was published in 1951 (lab code C 406: Arnold and Libby 1951 ; Glory 1964 ; indicated as 15,516 ± 900 BP in Leroi-Gourhan, Evin 1979) and gave a preliminary sense of the chronological framework of the cave’s Paleolithic occupations, contradicting the previous Gravettian hypothesis proposed by Breuil and Peyrony (Breuil 1950, 1952).

8In 1957, A. Glory tasked the Groningen laboratory with dating three large batches of charcoal from the Passageway (two batches from G section: see fig. 1) and from the entrance scree cone (one batch collected in B section, layer 16). Since 14C ages could not be obtained from any of these samples, Glory decided to submit two further samples of carbonaceous material from what he calls “the first [of three] carbonaceous layer” sealed by a calcite layer (the second one being situated, according to him, within the Paleolithic layer: Glory 1964). While the first sample (150 g) was taken between layers 16 and 17 of the entrance scree cone (fig. 1), the second one (50 g) was taken from the bottom of a gour in the Passageway area (G section) and more precisely “on the surface of the calcite” (Leroi-Gourhan and Evin 1979 – p. 83). The results provided evidence of a Mesolithic age component on top of the archaeological deposit, but without any associated industries (GrN 1182: 8,510 ± 100 BP or GrO 1182: 8,270 ± 100 BP for the layer 16 sample; GrN 1514: 8100 ± 75 BP or GrO 1514: 8,060 ± 75 BP for the Passage one). This evidence was confirmed a few years later (1962) with the age of 9,070 ± 90 BP (GrN 3184) obtained from a sample collected within layer 1 of the Passageway, corresponding to layer 17 of the entrance (Glory 1964).

9The sampling of a few “big fragments [of charcoal], removed from the bottom of the archaeological layer” (i.e. layer 3; Glory 2008 - p. 91) enabled the Groningen laboratory to obtain a far more accurate measurement than the first one from the Shaft, in 1958. The age of 17,190 ± 135 BP (GrN 1632 or GrO 1632: 16,950 ± 135 BP; indicated as 17,190 ± 140 BP in Leroi-Gourhan and Evin 1979 - p. 83) thus confirmed the Magdalenian chronology of the cave’s Paleolithic occupations. Finally, in 1961, a charcoal sample collected by A. Glory during his excavation of the Shaft (R section, layer 3) was dated by the Saclay laboratory, giving an age of 16,100 ± 500 BP (Sa 102; indicated as 16,000 ± 500 BP in Leroi-Gourhan and Evin 1979).

2.2 | Additional data as part of the monograph study (1975)

10Almost fifteen years after the A. Glory’s seminal effort, two further charcoal samples were submitted to radiometric measurement for the publication of the monograph. Thus, in 1975, charcoals collected by Glory at the foot of the “Upside-down Horse” and a sample taken by Arl. Leroi-Gourhan in the Terminal Passage, both located in the Axial Gallery area (fig. 1), “right above the Magdalenian layer” (Leroi-Gourhan 1979 - p. 71), were sent to J. Evin to be dated at the CDRC Laboratory in Lyon. These samples gave two Mesolithic-like ages (Ly 1196: 7,510 ± 650 BP for the “Upside-down Horse”; Ly 1197: 8,660 ± 360 BP for the Terminal Passage) that were similar to previous ages obtained from different parts of the cave entrance (see above). Non-anthropic and/or unintentional transport of recent charcoals, from the entrance to several deeper areas of the cave (through flows and/or floods and/or carried under some visitors’ feet?) was thus confirmed. As suggested by Arl. Leroi-Gourhan: “water flows were undoubtedly strong in the Boreal times, during the formation of the calcite floor located at the cave entrance and in the Bull’s Chamber. This water carried charcoals into the Passageway and also probably to the Terminal Passage, within the clay layer located at the top of the Paleolithic layer » (ibid.).

2.3 | Twenty years later: changing method, changing samples (1998-2002)

11By the end of the nineties, after a second gap of more than twenty years and despite over nearly 50 years of method developments and improvements (e.g. Evin and Oberlin 2000), the chronological framework of the most famous European cave still remained very sparse. At that time, only three ages could be related to the Paleolithic occupations and they had been obtained between 1951 and 1961. Alongside a comprehensive reassessment of the parietal art (Aujoulat 2002, 2004), N. Aujoulat and colleagues therefore decided to perform new radiometric analyses (Aujoulat et al. 1998). Thanks to recent methodological improvements allowing dating of significantly smaller and better purified samples (e.g. Valladas et al. 2000 ; Tisnérat-Laborde et al. 2003), they chose two antler artifacts from the Breuil, Blanc and Bourgon excavation at the foot of the Shaft Scene (1948-1949) for direct dating. The first one (fig. 2A, no1) was described as “a fragment of antler splinter” (Aujoulat et al. 1998 - p. 320) and may correspond to LSX 17 in the Leroy-Prost inventory (Leroy-Prost 2008 - p. 128), showing edges of grooves on both sides that suggest the use of the groove and splinter technique (Allain 1979 - p. 108 ; Pétillon and Ducasse 2012 - p. 457). The second one, whose dating was announced in 1998 (Aujoulat et al. 1998 - p. 321), carried out in 2002 but not published until 2011 (Genty et al. 2011), was from the Blanc collection and corresponded in principle to the fragment of an antler point with a longitudinal groove pictured in the 1998 paper (fig. 2A, no2; Allain 1979, figure 92, no 1; LSX 15 in Leroy-Prost 2008). Note that in 2012, G. and B. Delluc described this second antler artifact as LSX 20 (fig. 2A, no3, Allain 1979, figure 92, no 3 ; Delluc and Delluc 2012 - p. 395), introducing a clear ambiguity since this artifact, along with LSX 15 and 17 that were destroyed entirely for dating purposes, no longer exists in the collections stored at the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac (Leroy-Prost 2008 - p. 142). In any event, the two samples were submitted to the LSCE laboratory in Gif-sur-Yvette and dated by the AMS method.

Figure 2. The 1998-2002 AMS dating program.
Le programme de datation AMS 1998-2002.

Figure 2. The 1998-2002 AMS dating program. Le programme de datation AMS 1998-2002.

A – no1-2: dated antler artifacts from the Shaft; note that there is an ambiguity as to the “identity” of the GifA-101110 sample (LSX 15; no2), sometimes deemed to correspond to LSX 20 (no3; Delluc and Delluc 2012); B – 1998-2002 results compared to the Magdalenian-like ages previously available: a diachrony? The vertical grey line centered on 21 cal ka BP corresponds to the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition boundary according to Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 and Banks et al. 2019. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).

A - no1-2: objets en bois de renne datés issus du Puits ; notez qu’une ambiguïté existe sur « l’identité » de l’échantillon GifA-101110 (LSX 15 ; no2), parfois relié à LSX 20 (no3 ; Delluc et Delluc 2012) ; B – Comparaison entre les résultats 1998-2002 et les âges magdaléniens obtenus précédemment : les indices d’une diachronie ? La ligne verticale grise centrée autour de 21 cal ka BP correspond à la transition entre Badegoulien et Magdalenien d’après Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 et Banks et al. 2019.

12The results gave significantly older ages than the previous ones (GifA 95582: 18,600 ± 190 BP and GifA 101110: 18,930 ± 230 BP; see above and table 1; Aujoulat et al. 1998 ; Genty et al. 2011 ; Valladas et al. 2013), fueling a new chronocultural attribution hypothesis that, according to the authors, was more in keeping with the stylistic features of the parietal art, stated as being situated at the “transition between the Upper Solutrean and the Badegoulian” (Aujoulat 2004 - p. 59).

13While we are acutely aware that the spread of the AMS method and improvements to purification pretreatments generated a kind of “ageing” phenomena that was quite systematic for the Western European LGM time span (e.g. Bryant et al. 2001 ; d’Errico et al. 2005 - p. 274 ; Geneste 2002 - p. 31), and even if it remains difficult to discuss the chemical reliability of these two measurements, the first one (18,600 ± 190 BP or 22.9-22 cal ka BP) deserves comment. Firstly, contrary to what may sometimes have been claimed (e.g. Geneste 2010 - p. 201 ; Petrognani and Sauvet 2012), it is clearly not compatible with a Solutrean attribution, since the most recent work has shown that the 23-21 cal ka BP interval corresponds to the development of the Badegoulian technical traditions in present-day France (Ducasse et al. 2014 ; Banks et al. 2019 ; Ducasse et al. in press). Then, apart from the Gravettian issue, the oldest dated and undisputed evidence of the use of groove and splinter technique (GST) in the Upper Paleolithic in Western Europe is known around 21-20.5 cal ka BP and corresponds to an exclusively Magdalenian phenomenon (Pétillon and Ducasse 2012 - p. 457). Use of the GST at the Lascaux Cave would therefore be at least a thousand years earlier than any other directly-dated GST evidence from southwest France (ibid., see also Ducasse et al. 2019) and would thus be the first and sole confirmed case of the use of this method during the Badegoulian (see below).

2.4 | Confirming the age and determining the time span activity of the calcite gours (2011)

14As part of a program aiming to achieve a better understanding of the past hydrologic activity in the cave in order to discuss the links between preservation of the paintings and water flows, an extensive dating program combining U-Th and 14C methods was carried-out (Genty et al. 2011). Following the first evidence from the studies by Glory and Arl. Leroi-Gourhan (see above), Genty and colleagues obtained no less than 32 14C ages from the calcite of the gours and from charcoals trapped in it or organic matter extracted from it (table 1; note that only the dated charcoals and organic matters are reported here). The results enabled them to estimate the maximum time range for the gour formation and activity between 9.5 and 5.5 cal ka BP (compared with 10.5-7.2 cal ka BP for previous data: table 1) and, in so doing, to consider the role of these hydrological phenomena on the conservation of parietal art as almost inexistent since “the calcite gour had been inactive for several thousand years” (Genty et al. 2011 - p. 498) when the “inventors” of the cave entered into it.

2.5 | A contrasting picture revealing a complex diachronic story and/or biased data?

15Taken as a whole and considering their standard deviations once calibrated, Paleolithic-like ages from Lascaux document the 23.5-17 cal ka BP interval (fig. 2B), that is to say a wide time range encompassing the very end of the Upper Solutrean (and/or the very beginnings of the Badegoulian), the Late Badegoulian and the Lower and Middle Magdalenian. This could be considered a demonstration that the cave was occupied over a long period of time. But if we now exclude those ages with standard deviations of more than 200 years (that blur the chronological picture considerably), the documented time range would be concentrated between the Badegoulian (23-21 cal ka BP; see above) and the first part of the Lower Magdalenian (21-19.5 cal ka BP: Langlais et al. 2015), or might simply match the Badegoulian timespan. This would be notably the case if we only chose to focus our attention on the AMS dates that correspond theoretically to the most reliable data in terms of sampling conditions and method accuracy, and would be systematically preferred to beta counting ages because of the well-known comparability issues (see above). Although these two dates could refer to the chronology of the “classic” raclette-yielding Badegoulian industries as documented for example at Le Cuzoul de Vers, layers 1 to 21 (Ducasse 2010 ; Clottes et al. 2012; layer 6 dated to 18,640 ± 71 BP or 22.7-22.3 cal ka BP and 18,730 ± 110 or 22.9-22.4 cal ka BP: Ducasse et al. 2014), the nature of the first dated artifact (GST) and the main characteristics of the industries which are lacking in classic Badegoulian typo-technological features, as already stated by Allain (Allain 1979), challenge either our ability to recognize certain technocomplexes in specific “symbolic” contexts or –and this will be the standing hypothesis of the present paper– the reliability of the measurements themselves.

16In short, and without venturing too far into the debate around the “cultural” attribution of the lithic and osseous industries (that will be the subject of a future publication), it appears that following the first three main dating programs, the chronology of the Paleolithic occupations of the Lascaux Cave, although not aberrant, remains extremely imprecise and raises several methodological issues. We should bear in mind that it is the result of almost fifty years of intermittent and generally limited work (four dates in more than thirty-five years between 1962 and 1998, in the framework of 2 distinct programs), over a period that demonstrated the shortcomings of the 14C method and brought significant improvements, leading notably to very different sampling strategies (i.e. from bulk charcoal samples to single manufactured artifacts). The diversity of (1) the laboratories involved from 1951 to 2002, (2) the methods used, (3) the type of material dated and (4) the sampling strategies therefore limits the comparability of the results, not only among themselves, but also with the radiometric framework now accepted for the most part of the Upper Paleolithic in present-day France (e.g. Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 ; Banks et al. 2019). It is on account of this situation that we decided to design a new dating program able to overcome these issues and to clarify the picture, parallel to the comprehensive analysis of the archaeological record led in the LAsCO project.

3 | A new dating program: mains goals and sampling strategy

17Conceived as the first phase of a wider dating program at Lascaux, the work presented here was carried out to test (1) the chronological homogeneity of the occupations, as already suggested by a high typo-technological coherence (Allain 1979 and ongoing work) but challenged by the state of the art recalled above and, if that was confirmed, (2) the hypothesis of an attribution to the “Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition” phase, fueled by several prior inter-site comparisons (Langlais 2010 ; Ducasse et al. 2011; DEX_TER project). While benefiting from the most recent improvements in radiocarbon dating, we therefore set up, to the extent possible, a reproducible, transparent, and simple but robust sampling strategy that allows results to be compared, reviewed, and discussed in the framework of future research endeavors.

3.1 | What about dating bones?

18While new direct AMS dating on osseous artifacts should theoretically be the most cost-effective alternative since it would allow an absolute chronology of specific and representative typological and technical facts, we chose –mainly for conservation reasons– to begin by focusing our attention on a forgotten part of the archaeological record available for dating, namely the faunal remains. If this choice may seem surprising, it should be recalled that the published faunal spectra show a fairly homogeneous assemblage dominated by reindeer remains (Rangifer tarandus; NR=217 out of a total of 248: Vannoorenberghe 2008 - p. 170, table XXI), several anatomical portions of which show evidence of carcass processing (op. cit.). In addition, these reindeer remains are represented in the main areas of the cave (op. cit. - p. 179, table XXII) and as far as we know, they have surprisingly never been submitted to radiometric dating, not even with negative results. The first phase of this dating program therefore aimed to select reindeer samples from the main areas in order to test the contemporaneity of the butchery activities across the cave and, in doing so, refine the time-span of the Paleolithic occupations and activities. Some of the very rare secondary species (e.g. deer, boar and hare), which raise the question of their association with the Paleolithic component, may be the subject of a second dating program (see below).

19Since the faunal assemblages studied and published by Bouchud (1979) have not been located for now, the available corpus from which we made the selection corresponds to the Glory “treasure” found in the late nineties in his house at Le Bugue, Dordogne (Delluc and Delluc 2008). This assemblage of 115 pieces yielded close to 100 items of reindeer remains from the Entrance (N=8), the Axial Gallery (N=5), the Passageway (N=15), the Shaft (N=8), the Nave (N=7) and the Chamber of the Felines (N=55) (Vannoorenberghe 2008). It has been examined at the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les-Eyzies-de-Tayac (MNP) with the collaboration of S. Madelaine. Based on relevant criteria such as clear labelling (allowing an unambiguous spatial location), evidence of anthropic modification (i.e. cut-marks, etc.) and/or a sufficient available mass and/or a good state of conservation, we selected the following five pieces discovered in the Nave, Passageway, Shaft and Axial Gallery areas (fig. 3, 4 and tabl. 2):

  • - ECH1: diaphyseal fragment of left humerus from the Nave, labelled “Nef-car”;

  • - ECH2: diaphyseal fragment of right tibia from the Nave, labelled “Nef” and showing a percussion notch;

  • - ECH3: diaphyseal fragment of left tibia from the Passageway, labelled “Passage” and showing cutmarks;

  • - ECH4: diaphyseal fragment of right humerus from the Shaft, labelled “Puits 1960 10 -C²-; this bone was discovered during the 1960-1962 Glory excavation and is reported on the plan published in 1979, situated right by the famous sandstone lamp (fig. 4; Leroi-Gourhan 1979 - p. 69);

  • - ECH5: Left radius from the Axial Gallery, labelled “Cheval inversé”, that is to say that it was collected at the foot of this specific painted panel.

Figure 3. The 2019 AMS dating program: dated samples (reindeer) from the Nave (no1-2), Passageway (no3), Shaft (no 4) and Axial Gallery (no5); all the pictures are derived from the 3D photogrammetric models.
Le programme de datation AMS 2019 : échantillons datés (renne) issus de la Nef (no1-2), du Passage (no3), du Puits (no4) et du Diverticule axial (no5) ; montage des différentes vues réalisé d’après les modèles photogrammétriques.

Figure 3. The 2019 AMS dating program: dated samples (reindeer) from the Nave (no1-2), Passageway (no3), Shaft (no 4) and Axial Gallery (no5); all the pictures are derived from the 3D photogrammetric models.Le programme de datation AMS 2019 : échantillons datés (renne) issus de la Nef (no1-2), du Passage (no3), du Puits (no4) et du Diverticule axial (no5) ; montage des différentes vues réalisé d’après les modèles photogrammétriques.

(X. Muth, ©Get In Situ; infography S. Ducasse).
(X. Muth, ©Get In Situ; infographie S. Ducasse).

Figure 4. Location of the dated samples and new AMS ages within the main cave areas; the white letters on black correspond to the stratigraphic sections described by Glory (cave plan from Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979, figure 22, modified).
Localisation des échantillons datés et des mesures obtenues au sein des principaux secteurs de la grotte ; les lettres blanches sur fond noir correspondent aux coupes stratigraphiques relevées par Glory (plan de la grotte d’après Leroi-Gourhan et Allain 1979, figure 22, modifié).

Figure 4. Location of the dated samples and new AMS ages within the main cave areas; the white letters on black correspond to the stratigraphic sections described by Glory (cave plan from Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979, figure 22, modified).Localisation des échantillons datés et des mesures obtenues au sein des principaux secteurs de la grotte ; les lettres blanches sur fond noir correspondent aux coupes stratigraphiques relevées par Glory (plan de la grotte d’après Leroi-Gourhan et Allain 1979, figure 22, modifié).

3.2 | Sampling and dating methods

20After a 3D photogrammetric recording, each selected bone was subject to a sampling phase prior to submission to the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). This sampling phase was performed at the MNP and consisted of a simple sawing with a Dremel circular saw (Black&Decker RT 650) equipped with fiberglass wheels (cut-off wheel no409). A new wheel was used for each bone in order to avoid any inter-sample pollution. As far as possible, we sampled areas without any labelling information and in an apparent good state of preservation. As reported in table 2, the obtained sample masses varied from 1.4 to 2.3 g in weight and the masses lost during sampling did not exceed 0.3 g in weight.

Tableau 2. New AMS ages (MICADAS) on reindeer remains collected in the main areas of the cave (Glory collection stored at Museum of Prehistory in Les-Eyzies). Note that since the ECH5 sample has been dated twice, the two measurements were “R_Combine” using OxCal program (see the last row). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).
Nouvelles datations SMA sur vestiges attribués au renne et issus des principaux secteurs de la grotte (collection Glory conservées au MNP). Dans la mesure où l’échantillon ECH5 a fait l’objet de deux mesures, celles-ci ont été combinées via le logiciel OxCal (fonction « R_Combine » ; voir la dernière ligne du tableau).

Tableau 2. New AMS ages (MICADAS) on reindeer remains collected in the main areas of the cave (Glory collection stored at Museum of Prehistory in Les-Eyzies). Note that since the ECH5 sample has been dated twice, the two measurements were “R_Combine” using OxCal program (see the last row). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Nouvelles datations SMA sur vestiges attribués au renne et issus des principaux secteurs de la grotte (collection Glory conservées au MNP). Dans la mesure où l’échantillon ECH5 a fait l’objet de deux mesures, celles-ci ont été combinées via le logiciel OxCal (fonction « R_Combine » ; voir la dernière ligne du tableau).

21According to the laboratory information, the pretreatment phase followed the usual standard, including systematic ultrafiltration (Brock et al. 2010). However, instead of using the regular accelerator mass spectrometer, ORAU included the Lascaux samples in the schedule of the acceptance-testing phase for their new MIni CArbon DAting System (MICADAS: e.g. Fewlass et al. 2018; E. Henderson, personal communication).

4 | Results and discussion

22Apart from the ECH3 sample from the Passageway that failed due to low collagen yield and deprived us of a time stream for this specific area, all the other samples delivered an age considered as chemically reliable by the laboratory (tabl. 2 and tabl. 3). It is interesting to note that this intra-laboratory reliability was tested by a double check of the ECH5 sample (Axial Gallery, “Cheval inversé”) that was dated twice, delivering two strictly similar ages. As recommended by Bronk Ramsey (2009 - p. 341) and indicated in the final row of table 2, these two measurements were combined before calibration using the “R_Combine” tool in OxCal v.4.3.2 (Bronk Ramsey 2017; see also https://c14.arch.ox.ac.uk/​oxcalhelp/​hlp_analysis_eg.html). The four highly consistent and quite accurate ages obtained by the ORAU lab allow us to restrict the reindeer carcass processing —and by extension the associated industries— to a very short period of time between 21.8 and 21 cal ka BP (table 2 and fig. 4) with a certain focus around 21.5-21 cal ka BP (i.e. about 17,600 ± 90 uncal. BP). These results provide striking confirmation of the consistency of the two tested hypotheses are reminiscent of the initial 14C framework available notably for the Passageway-layer 3 (17,190 ± 135 uncal. BP : 21-20.5 cal ka BP; beta counting method; fig. 2). They open up a whole area of debate requiring detailed discussion and probably further analysis to interpret their great discrepancy with the Shaft AMS data from antler artifacts.

Tableau 3. Detailed chemical results.
Détail des données chimiques.

Tableau 3. Detailed chemical results.Détail des données chimiques.

4.1 | Challenging the diachronic hypothesis: is Lascaux a “one-shot” occupation?

23Based on the remarkable synthesis of Allain (1979) and the recent work of Leroy-Prost (2008), as well as on our own observations (Langlais 2010 - p. 275-277 and SD unpublished pers. obs. 2013/2014), all of which emphasize the strong typo-technologic coherence of the lithic and osseous industries, the first underlying question of this dating program was to discuss the archaeological value of the diachrony inherited from the 1948-2002 14C essays (fig. 2; probably due to various methodological causes: see above). Once calibrated, the results presented here restore a certain degree of chronological consistency, showing strict 14C contemporaneity between the Nave and the Axial Gallery, and high compatibility with the lightly older age obtained for the Shaft (fig. 4). Leaving aside the C-406 and Sa-102 measurements that show very high standard deviation and are thus useless (table 1), we can see that these new AMS ages on reindeer bones differ significantly from the Gif-sur-Yvette data on antler artifacts, as the latter are about 1,000 years older without any chronological overlap with the former (fig. 5). There are therefore two possible conclusions to explain this difference: either the bones (and subsequently the butchery activities) and antler worked artifacts (and subsequently the manufacture and/or deposit of these pieces) actually correspond to distinct chronological events inside the Shaft, or the chemical reliability of the ages produced in the late nineties and the early 2000s must be called into question.

Figure 5. New AMS 14C ages compared to the 1998-2002 ages from the Shaft. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).
Comparaison des nouvelles dates AMS (2019) avec les mesures obtenues entre 1998 et 2002 pour le Puits.

Figure 5. New AMS 14C ages compared to the 1998-2002 ages from the Shaft. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Comparaison des nouvelles dates AMS (2019) avec les mesures obtenues entre 1998 et 2002 pour le Puits.

24Although the first hypothesis must wait for further investigations, it could echo with the descriptions of Glory that highlight the existence of a discrete “paleosol” underlying the archaeological layer in the Shaft (Glory 2008 - p. 74-78 ; Leroi-Gourhan 1979 - p. 66). Furthermore, since the anatomical structure of the corpus of dated reindeer bones could theoretically correspond to a single individual (intentionally?) dispersed throughout the main sectors (see above), the possibility that the obtained ages could document a very specific event within a hypothetic long-term occupation of the cave (i.e. between 23.5-21 cal ka BP) cannot be totally dismissed. However, pending further evidence supporting this first hypothesis, we consider that the current archaeological evidence matches the second hypothesis best. Beside the already mentioned high coherence of the lithic and osseous industries that lack Solutrean and Badegoulian specific artifacts but which is consistent with the 2019 ages (see below), inter-site comparisons lead to consider the two Gif ages as outliers. First, as already stated, the technological features of GifA 95582 (GST) appear to clearly contradict its Badegoulian-like 14C age. As illustrated in figure 6, direct dating of numerous antler manufacturing waste from French Badegoulian and Magdalenian contexts document the chronological succession of the knapping technique-older than 20.5 cal ka BP ― and the GST ― younger than 21 cal ka BP. Second, if we consider the other directly dated artifact to be LSX 15 (fig. 2A #2), it would be the first confirmed case of a Badegoulian antler point with longitudinal groove since it has been previously demonstrated that this kind of typological association results from chronocultural admixtures with Magdalenian artifacts (e.g. Pégourié Cave, Lot : Ducasse et al. 2019). Lastly, even if this argument is not decisive as such and cannot be generalized, we must recall that examples of discrepancies between laboratories have sometimes been documented, and may not be due exclusively to archaeological issues. In that respect, the specific case of Gandil rockshelter (Tarn-et-Garonne) appears to be relevant since it also involves the Gif-sur-Yvette laboratory. The Lower Magdalenian layers 23 and 25, shown to be a unique archaeological assemblage (Langlais et al. 2007), delivered two self-consistent but very different series of AMS ages (table 4): 1,000 years separate the Gif and Lyon ages, with the former giving the older and least consistent results with respect to the typo-technological features (Langlais 2010 - p. 129 ; Jaubert 2013 ; Valladas et al. 2014).

Tableau 4. The inter-lab comparability issue: example from Gandil rockshelter (Tarn-et-Garonne). Data-lists according to Langlais et al., 2007 and Jaubert, 2013. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).
La question de la comparabilité inter-laboratoire : L’exemple de l’abri Gandil (Tarn-et-Garonne).

Tableau 4. The inter-lab comparability issue: example from Gandil rockshelter (Tarn-et-Garonne). Data-lists according to Langlais et al., 2007 and Jaubert, 2013. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).La question de la comparabilité inter-laboratoire : L’exemple de l’abri Gandil (Tarn-et-Garonne).

25In any event, archaeological evidence and inter-site comparisons lead us to opt for considering the 1998-2002 results as highly questionable, pending new contradictory data.

4.2 | A winning bet: the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition hypothesis confirmed

26The second question was highly dependent on the answer to the first one. If we now consider, in the light of the results presented in table 2, that the most part of the archaeological remains discovered in the main areas of the cave correspond to a chronologically coherent assemblage dated between 21.5 and 21 cal ka BP, we are consequently able to globally confirm our starting hypothesis (Langlais 2010 ; Ducasse et al. 2011): while a radiometric measurement is —of course— not equal to a cultural attribution, we can still clearly affirm that the industries of Lascaux are linked with the increasingly complex Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition phase, as several items of evidence already suggested through inter-site comparisons (Ducasse et al. 2011, figure 31 and 36 ; Delluc and Delluc 2012).

27On a purely chronological level and by comparing with the regional and extra-regional chronological frameworks defined through recent AMS dating (Langlais et al. 2015 ; Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 ; Banks et al. 2019 ; Ducasse et al. 2019, in press), the results obtained here fall within the last third of the Late Badegoulian time-span (fig. 6 and table 5). As Lassac, Aude (Sacchi 1986 ; Ducasse 2010 ; Pétillon and Ducasse 2012), La Contrée-Viallet, Allier (Lafarge 2014) or Casserole, Dordogne (Ducasse et al. submitted) show, the very end of the raclette-yielding Badegoulian can currently be set around 17,500 ± 100 uncal. BP, i.e. between 21.5-21 cal ka BP. To date, and beside the Gif-sur-Yvette AMS ages for Gandil layer 23-25 (see the review above and table 4), no “classic” French Lower Magdalenian industry yielding backed microbladelets and GST (sensu Saint-Germain-la-Rivière lower ensemble, Gironde: Langlais et al. 2015; or Le Taillis des Coteaux AG-IIIa: Primault et al. 2007 ; Primault 2010) has been dated to before 17,100 ± 100 uncal. BP, i.e. between 21-20.5 cal ka BP. Furthermore, while this chronological milestone is also valid for directly dated GST manufacturing wastes as stated above, it is quite interesting to note that numerous directly-dated antler flakes from the Badegoulian and/or undertermined or unclear chronocultural contexts appear to be strictly contemporaneous with the new AMS ages obtained for the Lascaux assemblages (fig. 6; Pétillon and Ducasse 2012 ; Bourdier et al. 2014 ; Chauvière et al. 2017 ; Ducasse et al. 2019). Among them, several taphonomically-questionable and/or anciently excavated sites yield very specific lamelles à dos dextre marginal (LDDM) that we propose to link with a significant part of the lithic hunting equipment from Lascaux (Ducasse et al., 2011 and ongoing study). The same specific type of retouched bladelets have notably been documented at Bouyssonie Cave (Corrèze; Langlais et al. in press), at Les Scilles, layer B attributed to the Lower Magdalenian (Haute-Garonne; Pétillon et al. 2008 ; Langlais et al. 2010) and Solvieux, layer 3A attributed to the Late Badegoulian (Dordogne; Sackett 1999, plate 15 ; Ducasse et al., 2011 and pers. obs.), in association with shaped sandstone lamps strongly recalling the famous Lascaux brûloir (Glory 1961 ; Beaune et al. 1986 ; Beaune 1987) which has been indirectly dated through the result delivered by the ECH4 bone sample (17,817 ± 96 uncal. BP : 21.8-21.2 cal ka BP; fig. 4).

Tableau 5. Selection of AMS 14C dates covering the currently admitted Badegoulian and Lower Magdalenian time span, used in Fig. 6 (MSU: medium-sized ungulate; GST: groove-and-splinter technique). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).
Sélection de datations par SMA couvrant l’intervalle chronologique aujourd’hui admis pour le Badegoulien et le Magdalénien inférieur (cf. fig. 6 ; MSU : ongulé de taille moyenne ; GST : double rainurage).

Tableau 5. Selection of AMS 14C dates covering the currently admitted Badegoulian and Lower Magdalenian time span, used in Fig. 6 (MSU: medium-sized ungulate; GST: groove-and-splinter technique). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Sélection de datations par SMA couvrant l’intervalle chronologique aujourd’hui admis pour le Badegoulien et le Magdalénien inférieur (cf. fig. 6 ; MSU : ongulé de taille moyenne ; GST : double rainurage).

Figure 6. The 2019 AMS 14C ages for Lascaux compared to the LGM chronocultural framework in Southwest France: the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition hypothesis. The “Badegoulian-like” and “Lower-Magdalenian-like” dating refer to compatible ages made on supposedly Badegoulian-specific (K) and Magdalenian-specific (GST) antler manufacturing wastes from mixed assemblages and/or old excavations (CdV: Cuzoul de Vers; CoCu: Combe-Cullier; FG: Fontgrasse; PCB: Petit Cloup Barrat; PEG: Pégourié; SG: Saint-Germain-la-Rivière; TdC: Taillis-des-Coteaux; see table 5). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).
Comparaison des nouvelles dates AMS de Lascaux (2019) avec le cadre chronoculturel du DMG dans le sud-ouest de la France : l’hypothèse de la transition badegoulo-magdalénienne. Les datations distinguées sous les appellations « Badegoulian-like » et « Magdalenian-like » correspondent à des mesures d’âge compatibles obtenues à partir de déchets techniques en bois de cervidé considérés comme caractéristiques sur le plan « culturel », mais issus d’industries mélangées et/ou de fouilles anciennes.

Figure 6. The 2019 AMS 14C ages for Lascaux compared to the LGM chronocultural framework in Southwest France: the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition hypothesis. The “Badegoulian-like” and “Lower-Magdalenian-like” dating refer to compatible ages made on supposedly Badegoulian-specific (K) and Magdalenian-specific (GST) antler manufacturing wastes from mixed assemblages and/or old excavations (CdV: Cuzoul de Vers; CoCu: Combe-Cullier; FG: Fontgrasse; PCB: Petit Cloup Barrat; PEG: Pégourié; SG: Saint-Germain-la-Rivière; TdC: Taillis-des-Coteaux; see table 5). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Comparaison des nouvelles dates AMS de Lascaux (2019) avec le cadre chronoculturel du DMG dans le sud-ouest de la France : l’hypothèse de la transition badegoulo-magdalénienne. Les datations distinguées sous les appellations « Badegoulian-like » et « Magdalenian-like » correspondent à des mesures d’âge compatibles obtenues à partir de déchets techniques en bois de cervidé considérés comme caractéristiques sur le plan « culturel », mais issus d’industries mélangées et/ou de fouilles anciennes.

28Thus, we would not say here that the industries of Lascaux are Badegoulian, no more than we would argue for a Lower Magdalenian attribution since the classic typo-technological criteria defining these two technocomplexes are lacking. Given the current increasing complexity of the panorama for the 21.5-20.5 period, we will limit ourselves to underlining the now clearer links existing between Lascaux and the LDDM-yielding industries known across this chronologic interval, that are currently being defined (e.g. Langlais et al. 2018, in press ; Primault et al. in press). Far beyond the chronological issue, any answer to this question should await a comprehensive typo-technological reassessment of these specific assemblages and such work is currently being conducted within the framework of the DEX_TER project.

5 | Conclusion

29The results presented in this paper are a first but significant step towards a global renewal of the highly controversial chronological framework of the Lascaux Cave. Twenty years after the last 14C essays, this new dating program provides a series of highly coherent ages that could easily be related to the very specific lithic and osseous industries discovered in the main cave’s areas. By depicting strong inter-area contemporaneity and confirming a Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian chronology, the previous diachronic framework and the surprisingly old ages often used to defend a Solutrean attribution are brought into question, not only for the archaeological assemblages, but also for the cave art. While the issue of the links between the new radiometric framework presented above and the parietal art have still to be discussed in light of interdisciplinary and crossover studies, our results fly in the face of the Solutrean attribution hypothesis of the industries, in line with their main typo-technological features.

30To precise this new chronology and to continue to systematically test this new coherence parallel to our petrographic, typo-technological and functional reassessment (ongoing work A. Averbouh, S. Caux, S. Ducasse, J. Jacquier and M. Langlais), two more dating programs are already planned. The next one can be performed in the short-term and will concern, as far as possible, other faunal remains corresponding to (1) secondary Paleolithic-like species (horse, red deer) and (2) postglacial-like species (deer, boar and hare). The hypothetical third program may be possible over the medium-term for heritage status reasons and would consist in new direct dating of a typo-technological selection of bone and antler artifacts from the main areas of the Cave (i.e. points and/or tools, decorated or not), as successfully done in globally comparable chronological contexts (e.g. Pétillon and Ducasse 2012 ; Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 ; Chauvière et al. 2017 ; Ducasse et al. 2019). Favored by recent methodological advances (Cersoy et al. 2017), such an approach would directly challenge the archaeological reliability of the results obtained through the seminal work of the Gif-sur-Yvette laboratory (Aujoulat et al. 1998 ; Valladas et al. 2013).

31In any event, this new date with Lascaux kept its promises by paving the way for exciting and challenging new questions. One certainty remains: we will be seeing each other again!

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List of illustrations

Title Tableau 1. Summary of 14C ages obtained at Lascaux Cave from 1951 to 2011. *: refers to the codification system used by C. Leroy-Prost (Leroy-Prost 2008). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Récapitulatif de l’ensemble des mesures 14C obtenues à Lascaux entre 1951 et 2011. * : codification utilisée par C. Leroy-Prost (Leroy-Prost 2008).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-1.png
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Title Figure 1. A sixty-year story: summary of the 1951-2011 14C ages from Lascaux (beta counting and AMS methods) and currently accepted calibrated chronological intervals for the main areas of the cave (see table 1; cave plan from Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979, figure 22, modified).Soixante ans d’histoire : bilan des datations 14C obtenues à Lascaux entre 1951 et 2011 (comptage Beta et SMA) et intervalles chronologiques calibrés pour chacun des principaux secteurs de la grotte (cf. tableau 1 ; plan de la grotte d’après Leroi-Gourhan et Allain 1979, figure 22, modifié).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-2.jpg
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Title Figure 2. The 1998-2002 AMS dating program. Le programme de datation AMS 1998-2002.
Caption A – no1-2: dated antler artifacts from the Shaft; note that there is an ambiguity as to the “identity” of the GifA-101110 sample (LSX 15; no2), sometimes deemed to correspond to LSX 20 (no3; Delluc and Delluc 2012); B – 1998-2002 results compared to the Magdalenian-like ages previously available: a diachrony? The vertical grey line centered on 21 cal ka BP corresponds to the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition boundary according to Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 and Banks et al. 2019. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).A - no1-2: objets en bois de renne datés issus du Puits ; notez qu’une ambiguïté existe sur « l’identité » de l’échantillon GifA-101110 (LSX 15 ; no2), parfois relié à LSX 20 (no3 ; Delluc et Delluc 2012) ; B – Comparaison entre les résultats 1998-2002 et les âges magdaléniens obtenus précédemment : les indices d’une diachronie ? La ligne verticale grise centrée autour de 21 cal ka BP correspond à la transition entre Badegoulien et Magdalenien d’après Barshay-Szmidt et al. 2016 et Banks et al. 2019.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-3.jpg
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Title Figure 3. The 2019 AMS dating program: dated samples (reindeer) from the Nave (no1-2), Passageway (no3), Shaft (no 4) and Axial Gallery (no5); all the pictures are derived from the 3D photogrammetric models.Le programme de datation AMS 2019 : échantillons datés (renne) issus de la Nef (no1-2), du Passage (no3), du Puits (no4) et du Diverticule axial (no5) ; montage des différentes vues réalisé d’après les modèles photogrammétriques.
Credits (X. Muth, ©Get In Situ; infography S. Ducasse).(X. Muth, ©Get In Situ; infographie S. Ducasse).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-4.jpg
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Title Figure 4. Location of the dated samples and new AMS ages within the main cave areas; the white letters on black correspond to the stratigraphic sections described by Glory (cave plan from Leroi-Gourhan and Allain 1979, figure 22, modified).Localisation des échantillons datés et des mesures obtenues au sein des principaux secteurs de la grotte ; les lettres blanches sur fond noir correspondent aux coupes stratigraphiques relevées par Glory (plan de la grotte d’après Leroi-Gourhan et Allain 1979, figure 22, modifié).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-5.jpg
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Title Tableau 2. New AMS ages (MICADAS) on reindeer remains collected in the main areas of the cave (Glory collection stored at Museum of Prehistory in Les-Eyzies). Note that since the ECH5 sample has been dated twice, the two measurements were “R_Combine” using OxCal program (see the last row). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Nouvelles datations SMA sur vestiges attribués au renne et issus des principaux secteurs de la grotte (collection Glory conservées au MNP). Dans la mesure où l’échantillon ECH5 a fait l’objet de deux mesures, celles-ci ont été combinées via le logiciel OxCal (fonction « R_Combine » ; voir la dernière ligne du tableau).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-6.png
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Title Tableau 3. Detailed chemical results.Détail des données chimiques.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-7.png
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Title Figure 5. New AMS 14C ages compared to the 1998-2002 ages from the Shaft. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Comparaison des nouvelles dates AMS (2019) avec les mesures obtenues entre 1998 et 2002 pour le Puits.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-8.jpg
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Title Tableau 4. The inter-lab comparability issue: example from Gandil rockshelter (Tarn-et-Garonne). Data-lists according to Langlais et al., 2007 and Jaubert, 2013. Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).La question de la comparabilité inter-laboratoire : L’exemple de l’abri Gandil (Tarn-et-Garonne).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-9.png
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Title Tableau 5. Selection of AMS 14C dates covering the currently admitted Badegoulian and Lower Magdalenian time span, used in Fig. 6 (MSU: medium-sized ungulate; GST: groove-and-splinter technique). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Sélection de datations par SMA couvrant l’intervalle chronologique aujourd’hui admis pour le Badegoulien et le Magdalénien inférieur (cf. fig. 6 ; MSU : ongulé de taille moyenne ; GST : double rainurage).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-10.png
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Title Figure 6. The 2019 AMS 14C ages for Lascaux compared to the LGM chronocultural framework in Southwest France: the Badegoulian-to-Magdalenian transition hypothesis. The “Badegoulian-like” and “Lower-Magdalenian-like” dating refer to compatible ages made on supposedly Badegoulian-specific (K) and Magdalenian-specific (GST) antler manufacturing wastes from mixed assemblages and/or old excavations (CdV: Cuzoul de Vers; CoCu: Combe-Cullier; FG: Fontgrasse; PCB: Petit Cloup Barrat; PEG: Pégourié; SG: Saint-Germain-la-Rivière; TdC: Taillis-des-Coteaux; see table 5). Calibration was carried out with the OxCal program (v4.3.2: Bronk Ramsey 2017) using the IntCal13 calibration curve (Reimer et al. 2013).Comparaison des nouvelles dates AMS de Lascaux (2019) avec le cadre chronoculturel du DMG dans le sud-ouest de la France : l’hypothèse de la transition badegoulo-magdalénienne. Les datations distinguées sous les appellations « Badegoulian-like » et « Magdalenian-like » correspondent à des mesures d’âge compatibles obtenues à partir de déchets techniques en bois de cervidé considérés comme caractéristiques sur le plan « culturel », mais issus d’industries mélangées et/ou de fouilles anciennes.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/docannexe/image/4558/img-11.jpg
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References

Bibliographical reference

Sylvain Ducasse and Mathieu Langlais, « Twenty years on, a new date with Lascaux. Reassessing the chronology of the cave’s Paleolithic occupations through new 14C AMS dating », PALEO, 30-1 | 2019, 130-147.

Electronic reference

Sylvain Ducasse and Mathieu Langlais, « Twenty years on, a new date with Lascaux. Reassessing the chronology of the cave’s Paleolithic occupations through new 14C AMS dating », PALEO [Online], 30-1 | 2019, Online since 29 May 2020, connection on 14 July 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/paleo/4558 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/paleo.4558

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About the authors

Sylvain Ducasse

CNRS, UMR 5199 « PACEA », Université de Bordeaux, Bâtiment B2, Allée Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, CS 50023, FR-33615 Pessac Cedex - sylvain.ducasse[at]u-bordeaux.fr

By this author

Mathieu Langlais

CNRS, UMR 5199 « PACEA », Université de Bordeaux, Bâtiment B2, Allée Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, CS 50023, FR-33615 Pessac Cedex - mathieu.langlais[at]u-bordeaux.fr

SERP, Universitat de Barcelona, Gran Via de Les Corts Catalanes, 585, E-08007 Barcelona

By this author

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