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PARTIE I - Le référentiel expérimental

The exploitation of plant and animal resources in the Palaeolithic: specific approaches for specific questions

Sandrine Costamagno, Émilie Claud, Céline Thiébaut, Maria Gema Chacón‑Navarro et Marie-Cécile Soulier
Cet article est une traduction de :
L’exploitation des ressources végétales et animales au Paléolithique : quels outils méthodologiques pour quelles questions ? [fr]

Texte intégral

1 – Introduction

S. Costamagno, C.Thiébaut, É. Claud

A - The benefits of an experimental approach

1Numerous researchers, archaeologists, anthropologists, and philosophers of science have examined the principle of actualism and its application in archaeology (ethnoarchaeology and experimental archaeology) from an epistemological or theoretical point of view (Ascher, 1961; Gould, 1965; Gallay, 1980, 2007, 2011; Binford, 1981; Gould, Watson, 1982; Wylie, 1982, 1985; Gifford-Gonzalez, 1989b; Testart, 2006; Roux, 2007). As emphasized by A. Gallay (2011: 80) in his work Pour une ethnoarchéologie théorique: “the archaeologist who works in a closed system… is incapable of proposing functional interpretations of the economic, social, political, or ideological significance of the object in society, or explanations of a historical nature, on the basis of the archaeological record alone”. Indeed, all archaeological interpretation requires analogical reasoning that rests on data drawn from archaeological, anthropological, or even experimental observations.

2The actualistic approach can draw on different disciplinary fields.

3The first, ethnology, assumes different forms and aims according to the individual researcher. Far from the direct analogy characteristic of early prehistoric research, the transcultural or “general” anthropology, as conceived of by A. Testart (2006), today opens a wide field of possibilities to consideration in archaeological research based on a rich body of ethnographic and ethnohistorical research. Correlations thus identified support the development of specific criteria for the evaluation of archaeological interpretations.

4As for ethnoarchaeology, it rests on the analysis, in contemporary or historically recent cultures, of material acts observed in the past with the aim of improving our understanding of the past (Gallay, 2011). For A. Gallay (2011) or V. Roux (2007), the ultimate objective of ethnoarchaeology is the search for universal mechanisms based in human nature that take on culturally distinct forms depending on the contexts in which they occur. It is the identification of these patterns in different areas of ethnological research that confirms a mechanism to a rule of human behaviour. This ethnoarchaeology, extremely ambitious in both its basic tenets and the anthropological questions that it tends to address, rests nonetheless on the general concepts common to all ethnoarchaeological inquiry, regardless of the field of application (Binford, 1978; Pétrequin, Pétrequin, 1984, 1993; Roux, 2000). In L. R. Binford’s Middle Range Theory, actualistic studies are framed as a way to identify “the relationship between dynamic properties of the past about which one seeks knowledge and the static material properties common to the past and the present” (Binford, 1981: 29). In this perspective, L. R. Binford drew extensively on his ethnoarchaeological or ethnohistorical observations of the Nunamiut in order to support his eco‑materialist views of hunter-gatherer societies in the Palaeolithic.

5Since the work of C.K. Brain (1976, 1981) and A. Hill (1978), the study of taphonomy has also bene-fited from the actualistic approach in the development of studies in neotaphonomy. The original aim of neotaphonomic analysis, which persists to this day, was to establish the signatures (attributes) of different agents that modify bone in archaeological environments (Behrensmeyer, 1978; Brain, 1981; Binford, 1981; Shipman, Rose, 1983; Andrews, Cook, 1985; Blumenshine et al., 1994; Costamagno et al., 2005; Letourneux, Pétillon, 2008; Mallye et al., 2009; Mallye, Laroulandie, 2014…). In the last thirty years (Blumenschine, 1988), issues of equifinality (Lyman, 1994b) have been addressed with the testing of specific taphonomic scenarios (see, for example, the abundant literature on the issue of predation by early members of the genus Homo by Blumenschine, Capaldo, Domínguez-Rodrigo, Egeland…). In this sense, it is not actualistic observations that are employed, but the experimental approach. The latter has been applied in a number of areas in archaeology: functional analyses (Stordeur, 1983; Plisson, 1991; Anderson, 1992; Shea et al., 2002; Maigrot, 2003; Sidéra, Legrand, 2006; Claud, 2008), technological analyses (Pelegrin, 1991; Greenfield, 2002; Mathieu, Mayer, 1997; Aubry et al., 2008), and archaeozoological analyses (Egeland, 2003; Nillsen, 2000; Domínguez-Rodrigo, 2008…).

6Experimental archaeology, like ethnoarchaeology, rests on a hypothetico-deductive approach: “An experiment is by definition a method of establishing a reasoned conclusion against an initial hypothesis, by trial or test” (Reynolds, 1999: 156). For J. R. Mathieu (2002: 1): “Experimental archaeology is a sub-fi of archaeological research which employs a number of different methods, techniques, analyses, and approaches within the context of controllable imitative experiment to replicate past phenomena (from objects to systems) in order to generate and test hypotheses to provide or enhance analogies for archaeological interpretation”. In contrast to laboratory experiments, experimental archaeology seeks to test hypotheses in conditions that are close as possible to archaeological reality (Outram, 2008). It is this approach that we have chosen to apply throughout the PCR because it seems the best suited to address the complexities of the past. As A. Outram (2008: 2) points out: “a gulf is left between laboratory work and how processes may have been achieved in the past, with a limited range of materials, technologies and a lesser control upon the environment”. Though they are not conducted in a laboratory, the experimental protocol developed in archaeological experiments are no less valuable; the validity of the results obtained depends on a rigorous approach. Though the conditions are less tightly controlled than laboratory conditions, the protocol must limit the number of variables that could influence the phenomena under analyses, thus allowing for replication and the proposal of inferences. The development of protocol for the different experiments we have conducted required a phase of preparation in which specialists in several fields were involved (use-wear analysts, archaeozoologists, specialists in lithic analysis) in order to respond to the concerns of each while restricting the overall number of variables. As can be seen in the description of the protocol, the imperatives of some specialists required others to make certain concessions in the experimental process (see below). The application of a quantitative comparative analysis of the effectiveness of stone tools requires the control of a number of parameters (edge angle, morphology in plan and cross-section of the active zone, outline and length of the edge), such that only a single parameter varies over the course of each experiment, which seems impractical in the context of live experiments. Thus, even though we include several remarks on the effectiveness of different tool-types in various activities in our results, our experimental approach was not designed to quantify in an empirical manner the effectiveness of different types of tools in a butchery activity (see Poplin, 1972; Walker, 1978; Jones, 1980; Mitchell, 1995, 1998; Machin et al., 2007; Galàn, Domínguez-Rodrigo, 2014). We have focused instead on the traces left on stone tools in the exploitation of plant and animal resources. Amongst the five categories of experiment listed by P. J. Reynolds (1999), our experiments belong to the second: “Processes and function experiments”. That is to say, the aim of the experiments is a better understanding of the function of tools, their modalities of use, and the technological procedures for certain practices. With regard to the scales of observation (Mathieu, 2002), our experiments fall at different levels of inference. The study of the morphological attributes of butchery marks depending on the tool type and raw material used aims at identifying the tool used and belongs to the fi level of inference, the object. The objective of the various experiments conducted on lithic tools was the creation of a reference collection of use-wear traces on several tool types that occur at the study sites (bifaces, flake cleavers, denticulates, points). Raw materials other than flint were used at some sites in response to particular circumstances. These studies related to the function of the tools belong to the second level of inference: use. Other questions were addressed at the same level of inference, such as the degree of effectiveness of a given tool in a specific activity. Finally, at the third level of inference (process), the morphology and placement of cutmarks in butchery operations were applied to the reconstruction of operational sequences in butchery.

7In the PCR, we designed the experiments to respond to particular research questions rather than start from specific archaeological situations. This approach allowed us to better respond to our questions by testing different possible scenarios without an a priori outcome. This is not only the most relevant method for functional studies; it is also the very foundation of the discipline (Semenov, 1964; Plisson, 1991). With regard to the fauna, we began by responding to the difficulty, at the current state of archaeozoological practice, of interpreting the complex webs of butchery marks observed on bones. Except in rare cases (for example Vigne, 2005), it is often very difficult to identify particular actions in butchery practices based on the marks left on bones, and to form hypotheses that can be tested via an actualistic approach. In our opinion, these challenges are a result of specific weaknesses in our interpretive frameworks (see below), which we aimed to address through the PCR. The use of replicas of Mousterian tools encountered in the various study assemblages and the rigorous protocol applied has produced a set of comparative reference material that is relevant to the sites included in our analyses, and to Middle Palaeolithic sites in general. The reference collections developed for the faunal samples are also applicable to other chrono‑cultural contexts.

B - The experimental reference collection: from the exhaustive to the essential

8The experiments conducted between 2006 and 2012 within the context of the PCR were developed on the basis of the results obtained and the observations made on archaeological and experimental material. This flexibility proved essential, as it allowed us to adapt our approaches from one year to the next in response to the new questions, challenges, or constraints that arose. Our experimental approaches, which were not intended to be exhaustive, were dictated by archaeological questions related to the techno-economic sphere and the assemblages studied. The resulting reference collection presented in this volume is based on close to 500 active zones on lithic tools as well as the analysis of nine animal carcasses processed experimentally.

9The experimental approach that we have chosen is geared toward the creation of a reference collection of the traces that result from diverse human activities, both subsistence and technological. This project has benefited from a unique combination of the knowledge and competencies of specialists in several sub-disciplines from its earliest stages. Thus, the development and implementation of the experimental protocol were achieved during collaborative sessions, especially the processing of animal carcasses. As we mentioned in the introduction, these experiments and activities were guided by the reconstruction of two distinct but interrelated chaînes opératoires (figure 2): the exploitation of wood (from felling to the fabrication of objects) and the acquisition and processing of animal carcasses (from acquisition to the exploitation of marrow and hides).

Figure 2 - Chaînes opératoires of the acquisition and treatment of plant and animal products

Figure 2 - Chaînes opératoires of the acquisition and treatment of plant and animal products

CAD: C. Thiébaut and M. Coutureau

2 - The technological sub-system of the exploitation of plant materials

É. Claud, C.Thiébaut, S. Costamagno, M.-G. Chacón Navarro

A - The use of plant materials: naturally indirect evidence

10Plant materials from the Middle Palaeolithic are very rarely preserved. The use of wood in the Early and Middle Palaeolithic is evidenced by a few exceptional discoveries of wooden spears at the sites of Lehringen, Schöningen (Germany), and Clacton-on-Sea (England) (Movius, 1950; Junkmanns, 2001; Dennel, 1997; Thieme, 1997; Oakley et al., 1977), a wooden point at Ljubljansko Barje (Slovenia), carbonized objects and negative impressions of wood preserved by the travertine flows at Abric Romaní (Spain) (Carbonell, Castro-Curel, 1992; Castro-Cruel, Carbonell, 1995; Gaspari et al., 2011). The study of these remains allows us to determine the nature of the objects (raw wood, hunting weapons, hafts, containers,…), the type of wood used and even traces related to fabrication. Phytoliths are sometimes preserved in sediments, as at Abric Romaní, where the analysis of thin-sections revealed the remains of plants that could have been used in bedding (Cabanes et al., 2007), but such research is not systematically undertaken. Outside of these exceptional cases of organic preservation, plant materials are primarily recovered in the form of charcoal, the study of which can reveal the type of wood, its state prior to combustion and the methods of acquisition (collection of dead or rotting wood, felling of green wood, …) as well as the functional properties (Théry-Parisot, 2011).

11The possible techniques of acquisition and transformation of wood or other plant materials for the fabrication of objects or consumption is only identifiable in most cases, through the study of indirect evidence, such as the discovery of tools that reveal the likely existence of hafting or use-wear traces on lithic tools that attests to their use on plant materials.

12Before the development of use-wear analysis in France in the 1980s, interpretations of tool functions were techno-typological, defining certain objects according to their presumed functions largely on the basis of ethnographic analogy (for an overview, see Demars, 1986). The effectiveness of Clactonian notches and denticulates in the sawing and scraping of wood was demonstrated experimentally (Bordes, 1961a; Kantman, 1970a, 1970b), supporting the idea that these tools might be dedicated to woodworking and, more generally, to the assumption that the different types of tools identified in lithic industries had distinct functions. This hypothesis substantiated the functionalist model proposed by L. R. Binford (1966, 1973), to the detriment of other models, explaining the basis for the diversity of Middle Palaeolithic industries in Western Europe (see for example Bordes, 1961b, 1973; Mellars, 1969). An environmental explanation was also proposed by N. Roland (1980, 1991): denticulates, used in woodworking, were produced in greater numbers during more temperate periods when woody resources were more abundant, while side scrapers, used for hide working, were produced in greater abundance during colder periods.

13The first use-wear analyses conducted in France on Middle Palaeolithic industries by S. Beyries (1987a, 1987b, 1988a, 1988b; Beyries, Boëda, 1983) and P. Anderson‑Gerfaud (1981, 1990) revealed a predominance of woodworking in comparison to other activities, based on the frequencies of traces identified. Indeed, up until the early 1990s, the tools bearing traces indicative of wood-working were far more numerous than those used in hide working and butchery (figure 3). Though notched pieces were most frequently associated with woodworking, only the Clactonian notches were identified as specialised tools based on the presence of use-wear exclusively associated with woodworking (Beyries, 1987a). Other types of tools presented traces resulting from use on a variety of materials (meat, hide, wood and even bone), thus contradicting the models proposed by L. R. Binford and N. Roland. These pioneering studies in lithic use-wear analysis conducted on French sites focused primarily on the identification of the materials worked and not on the reconstruction of the precise motions applied. Thereafter, use-wear analyses conducted on other industries in Western Europe similarly failed to provide insights into the modes of woodworking; the tools dedicated to this activity often proved to be rare, or even absent (see especially Geneste, Plisson, 1996; Lemorini, 2000; Locht et al., 2002; Martínez et al., 2005; Martinez-Molina, 2008; de Araújo Igreja, 2008; Pasquini, 2008).

Figure 3 - Overview of the use-wear data provided by studies conducted on samples of more than 30 pieces, and published between 1980 and 2002

Figure 3 - Overview of the use-wear data provided by studies conducted on samples of more than 30 pieces, and published between 1980 and 2002

After Claud, 2004 and the following references: Anderson-Gerfaud, 1981; Frame, 1986; Beyries, Boëda, 1987; Beyries, 1987a, 1993b; Lemorini, 2000; Locht et al., 2002

14In combination with use-wear analysis, indications of hafting were sometimes identified on Middle Palaeolithic tools, illustrating the likely use of wood for the fabrication of hafts. These indications consist of wear traces (for example Anderson-Gerfaud, Helmer, 1987; Beyries, 1987b; Lemorini, 2000; Rots, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015b) or adhesives in the form of residues or micro-residues stuck to tool surfaces as at Königsaue (Germany), where pieces of birch pitch bear impressions of a wooden haft (Grünberg, 2002; Mazza et al., 2006; Pawlik, Thissen, 2011; Cârciumaru et al., 2012). Finally, in the last ten years, at multiple European sites, flint points bearing impact damage resulting from their use as projectile or thrusting points naturally suggest that they were mounted on a shaft, probably of wood (see Part II, chapters 2 and 4).

15Based on these lines of evidence, it seemed necessary to include an experimental track focused on woodworking, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of certain tools, create experimental reference collections for comparison with archaeological assemblages, in order to assess the prevalence of woodworking relative to other activities, examine the relationships between different modes of use (modes of action, especially) and the characteristics of the tools (types, morphology of the active zones, raw materials) and attempt to identify the effects of environment and cultural traditions on the modes employed.

16A contrario, the acquisition and transformation of other, non-woody plant materials, such as grasses, herbaceous plants, tubers, roots, or fruits, were subject to a limited number of experiments under the PCR. Indeed, the practice of such activities has rarely been identifi in use-wear studies of Middle Palaeolithic tools, that is to say, in a limited number of assemblages and a small proportion of artefacts (Anderson-Gerfaud, 1981; Beyries, 1987a, 1993b; Geneste, Plisson, 1996; Lemorini, 2000; Bourguignon et al., 2002; Lazuèn, Delagnes, 2014; Lazuèn, Gonzáles Urquijo, 2014). The first regular evidence occurs near the end of the Palaeolithic (Jacquier, 2015) or even during the Mesolithic (Guéret, 2013). Three studies of residues (Hardy, 2004 at La Quina; Hardy, Moncel, 2011 at Payre; Pawlik, Thissen, 2017 at Inden-Altdorf in Germany) have systematically demonstrated a strong presence of non-woody plant residues. However, their basis in archaeological reality could be questioned on the grounds of methodological problems tied to potential contamination (for a discussion of this topic, see Part II, chapter 4.2.F). The study by A. Pawlik and J. Thissen (2017) at Inden‑Altdorf, combining residue and use-wear analysis also provides evidence for non-woody plant materials processing. However, the descriptions and photographs depict surface states comparable to certain forms of post-depositional alteration, suggesting a possible natural source for these patterns (see Part II, chapter 4.2.F). Ethnographic sources on the gathering and processing of wild plants by hunter-gatherers, although few, show that the use of sharp tools for these activities is rare (Hayden, 1977; van Gijn, 1989a; Harlan, 1992). Plants are often gathered by hand and the roots and tubers often extracted with the aid of a digging-stick. Thus, even if non-woody plants could have played a substantial role in Neanderthal subsistence, notably as food (Hardy et al., 2012; Weyrich et al., 2017), it is probable that their acquisition and potential processing left little to no traces on stone tools. Finally, the publications that address use-wear related to the plant processing (fabrication of arrows, basketry, plaiting, harvesting of grains) on experimental and archaeological material from more recent contexts (end of the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) are comparatively numerous, and very well illustrated (see for example Anderson, 1992; Juel Jensen, 1994; Gassin, 1996; Clemente-Conte, Gibaja Bao, 1998; Caspar et al., 2005; Beugnier, Crombé, 2007; Guéret, 2013; Jacquier, 2015). The micro‑traces are often very pronounced and can easily be distinguished from those linked to other activities (butchery, woodworking, hide working) and serve as a basis for the recognition of similar traces in our own study assemblages, at least in the cases that have been well enough preserved to allow for interpretation of micro-traces (see Part II, chapter 2.1).

17During our experiments, we hafted several tools. The objectives of this practice, though varied (adapting a tool to a specific task such as felling a tree or shooting at an animal; comparing the effectiveness of a hafted tool with that of a tool held in the bare hand; comparing the intensity of the use-wear traces produced on the edge under the two modes of prehension) did not include the purposeful production of traces related to hafting in order to deduce the criteria for their identification. This would require an entire project itself, such as the one developed for the late Upper Palaeolithic by V. Rots (2010) and, especially, archaeological assemblages that are very well preserved. Traces of hafting were nonetheless observed, at low magnification on the experimental pieces that were hafted in the PCR project. The large majority of archaeological assemblages in our study are not well preserved enough to conserve micro-traces related to hafting, or, to be more specific, to allow us a distinction to be made between bright spots related to hafting (Rots, 2004, 2010) and bright spots of natural origin.

B - Experimental collections related to plant material

18The experimental reference is comprised of 149 active zones used in the process of acquiring or processing wood (table 1) and four zones used in the cutting of wild grasses (on three flint bifaces and a quartzite flake used to gather wall barley and molinia). We considered several different variables in the construction of this experimental reference collection:

  • tool type: the experimental collection set is composed of replicas of different tools that make up the Middle Palaeolithic study assemblages. It includes unmodified and retouched blanks: 19 unmodified blanks (flakes and points), 18 retouched points, 14 denticulates, 11 Clactonian notches, 25 flake cleavers, and 62 bifaces;

  • raw material: blanks made of flint (n =101), quartzite (n =38) and, to a lesser extent, ophite (n =9) and microgranite (n =1) were used. The flint was primarily obtained from the south of France (Senonian brown and black, Bergeracois, Sault) and quartzite and ophite from the alluvia of the Garonne River and its tributaries or the deposits in the French Pyrenees and the terraces of the Lot River;

  • prehension style: most of the tools were barehanded. Some of the bifaces and the flake cleavers used in percussion were hafted in wood handles, in order to put more force behind the blows and render use more comfortable. In fact, unsurprisingly, the felling of trees with a flake cleaver or biface held in the hand proved laborious and painful. The handles used were straight and, less frequently, curved and with a male or a juxtaposed arrangement (sensu Storder, 1987). Leather bindings and/or adhesives with resin, wax, or ochre bases were used to affix the pieces in the haft;

  • types and states of wood used: as the types of wood exploited at the study sites is rarely known (with the exception of Grotte du Noisetier, Théry‑Parisot in Mourre, 2010), the choice of the types and state (green, dry, burnt) was guided by the objective of working wood of varying density and hardness in order to produce the most varied use-wear possible. For hardwood, we worked boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), oak (Quercus sp.), black locust (Robinia pseudacacia), and wild cherry (Prunus avium). Amongst the softer woods were populus (Populus sp.), pine (Pinus sp.), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), cornus (Cornus sp.), maple (Acer sp.), ash (Fraxinus sp.), ivy (Hedera helix), hackberry (Celtis australis), and willow (Salix sp.). Lastly, wood of intermediate hardness, such as hazel (Corylus avellana) and beech (Fagus sylvatica) were also worked;

  • modes of use and activities: different activities were practised, involving different modes of action (table 1): from acquisition by chopping or sawing to transformation by bark-stripping, sectioning, scraping, sharpening, perforating, polishing, employing percussion or continuous contact (pressure) motions, in a longitudinal, transverse, or rotational motion. This diversity of activities was performed in order to document the potential variability of traces, especially macroscopic traces, according the mode of action and therefore the intention of the artisan.

19Wood was acquired by chopping trunks or branches of different types and states of freshness. Two flake cleavers were used to section dry, partially burnt wood in order to test their effectiveness in felling standing deadwood that was burnt at the base (Pétrequin, Pétrequin, 1993). Two modes of felling were performed: percussion by percussion and sawing (continuous contact in linear motion, figure 4). These modes were tested with several types of tools, following a logic of effectiveness. The total number of zones used in these activities is 44, including 20 flake cleavers and 11 bifaces used in percussion, usually hafted and 13 pieces, usually small unmodified or retouched blanks, used in sawing.

20With regard to the shaping of wood, the objectives were highly varied. We focused our efforts on the production of specific utilitarian objects: spears, handles, shafts, and structures for the hides processing.

21After the felling of a trunk or trimming of a branch, one of the first activities is the stripping of the bark according to one of two approaches: percussion or scraping (figure 5). Ten blanks in total were exclusively consigned to this activity (table 1).

22Then, the shaping of the wood preforms was approached experimentally, involving varied actions according to the objective. Both fresh and dry blanks were sawed, perforated, thinned, grooved, and/or sharpened (figures 6-7), employing different modes of action (see Part I, chapter 2.4.B.a).

Table 1 - Summary of the experimental tools used in the acquisition and treatment of wood: lithic raw materials and types of tools according to the activities and the modes of action employed.

Table 1 - Summary of the experimental tools used in the acquisition and treatment of wood: lithic raw materials and types of tools according to the activities and the modes of action employed.

Figure 4 - Tree trunk felling

Figure 4 - Tree trunk felling

a: by percussion with a hafted or hand-held flake cleaver; b: by sawing with a flint denticulate

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 5 - Bark stripping

Figure 5 - Bark stripping

a: stripping bark from a standing truck by percussion with a flake cleaver; b: stripping bark by percussion with a flake cleaver; c: stripping bark by scraping with a flake cleaver; d-e: stripping bark by scraping with a quartzite flake

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 6 – Shaping

Figure 6 – Shaping

a: thinning by percussion with a flake cleaver; b: thinning by scraping with a flake; c: spear manufacturing by scraping with a notch

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 7 – Shaping

Figure 7 – Shaping

a: perforation with a quartzite point; b: perforation with a flint point; c: sawing with a flint notch; d: grooving with a flint flake

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 8 - Polishing a spear point by scraping with a quartzite notch

Figure 8 - Polishing a spear point by scraping with a quartzite notch

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

23In the end, five spear-points in wood, pre-treated by heating, were polished by light scraping with a sharp edge (figure 8) and, to a lesser extent, by rubbing or abrasion (on the surface of a quartzite denticulate).

  • the duration of activities: the durations of the various activities ranged from a few minutes to several hours, allowing us to evaluate the effect of duration of use on the tool and the formation of use-wear.

3 - The technological subsystem for the exploitation of animal resources

S. Costamagno, É. Claud, M.-C. Soulier, C.Thiébaut

24The technological subsystem for the exploitation of animal resources unfolds in several stages, from the acquisition of the animal (hunting, scavenging) to its consumption (Castel et al., 1998; Vigne, 1998). Inspired by the work of A. Tresset (1996), figure 9 presents a schematic view of different stages of this chaîne opératoire. The number of stages is relatively small (skinning, extraction of blood and organs, breaking down the carcass, dismemberment, defleshing disarticulation, extraction of tendons, fracturing of bone to various ends), but their frequency, their organization, and the techniques employed can vary according to several factors (Speth, 1983; Bartram, 1993; Beyries, 1993a). This multiplicity of factors that can potentially affect the sequence of transformation of animal carcasses has long been recognized: “There was no standard ‘Indian Method’ of butchering buffalo. Butchering was, in fact, a highly variable process, and the techniques chosen depended on a number of equally variable factors – the time of year, whether meat was for immediate use or for laying in a supply, the distance from camp, the use to be made of the hides, if any, the tribe of Indians involved” (Wheat, 1972: 98). Wheat (1972) and R. L. Lyman (1987) generated an exhaustive list of these factors (table 2).

Table 2 - Exploitable resources on an animal carcass

Skinning

Recovery of blood

Recovery of bones

Evisceration

Extraction of the brain

Extraction of teeth

Defleshing

Removal of periosteum

Recovery of the hooves

Disarticulation

Extraction of marrow

Recovery of antlers or horns

Removal of tendons

Extraction of grease from bone tissue

Recovery of feathers

Modified from Lyman, 1987

25All available studies on traditional societies indicate strong relationships between the subsystem of animal resources exploitation and social and symbolic systems (Yellen, 1977a; Simoons, 1994; Lalhou, 1998; Vialles, 1998; Chenal-Velarde, Velarde, 2004). In every society, eating is bounded by rules, rites, and interdictions (for example Guevara, 1988; Malaurie, 1989; Simoons, 1994; Stefanson, Palsson, 2001; Politis, Saunders, 2002; d’Iatchenko et al., 2007). For example, the Yakuts in Russia eat neither brain nor spinal marrow, which are considered to be the source of the life force of animals (Ferret, 2010). Bone grease, highly valued by people living in this cold climate, is sometimes used in ritual practices (Karlin, Tchesnekov, 2007). Dietary practices play a significant role in the construction of social identity (Havelange, 1988; Lalhou, 1998; Serra Mallol, 2010). Activities associated with the butchery of carcasses can also be guided by cultural factors. For example, the Maya avoid all contact with bone during butchery out of respect for the animal (Brown, Emery, 2008). The Evenki disarticulate all of the skeletal elements with caution (Abe, 2005) while the Dena’ina pulverise them meticulously (Russell, 1995). Faunal remains, remains of the alimentary practices of Palaeolithic societies, are therefore evidence of technological and cultural traditions, just like remains of material culture. In this sense, understanding animal butchery chaînes opératoires provides insight into intentions, technological knowledge, and even cultural practices (Dumont, 1987; Vigne et al., 1987). In the archaeological record, it is primarily anthropogenic traces present on bones including butchery cutmarks, traces of percussion, use, or transformation that allow us to reconstruct a comprehensive chaîne opératoire of animal exploitation (for example, Castel et al., 1998; Laroulandie 2004; Fontana et al., 2009; Johnson, Bement, 2009; Leduc, 2010; Costamagno, 2012; Mallye et al., 2013; Soulier, 2013, 2014). Lithic use-wear analyses can iden-tify the types of tools used in butchery and the mode of action (cutting, scraping, percussion) (Semenov, 1964; Keeley, Newcomer, 1977; Frison, 1979; Beyries, 1993a; Plisson, 1993). The morphology of butchery tools and their modes of use can vary from one society to another (see above).

Figure 9 - Schematic illustration of the technological sub-system for the exploitation of animal resources

Figure 9 - Schematic illustration of the technological sub-system for the exploitation of animal resources

Modified from Tresset, 1996; CAD: M. Coutureau

26Similarly, the ethnographic record shows that the chaîne opératoire of hide processing is subject to great variation. These chaînes opératoires are more or less complex, affected by cultural traditions, the social status of the individual, the ultimate purpose of the hides (shelter, clothing, bedding, bags, shoes, …), the dimension and thickness of the hides, and even the season (Robbe, 1975; Hayden, 1990; Beyries, 2002; Ibanez et al., 2002). Amongst the stages identified in this activity (defleshing, hair-removal, tanning, curing, softening, dyeing, …; see Chahine, 2002), hide defleshing is often considered crucial and requires the use of tools with a sharp edge in the case of ungulates (Chahine, 2002; Beyries, 2008). The skin of small, furry animals can be rather easily separated from the underlying fatty tissues by hand, rendering defleshing superfluous (Hayden, 2002). In the archaeological record, use-wear analysis has been successfully applied to identify the types of tools used in hide working, and presented the possibility of partially reconstructing the methods adopted: types of tools used, modes of action and prehension, state of the hides, potential presence of additives, or even blanks used and position of the artisan (Hayden, 1979a; Siegel, 1984; Adams, 1988; Hayden, 1993; Beyries, 2008). Certain steps of this work could be achieved without tools, with simple cobblestones, or with tools in perishable materials (for example, wood hides‑moothers), and the entire range of methods employed in the sequences cannot be reconstructed on the basis of lithic use-wear analysis alone (Adams, 1988; Plisson, 1993).

27It is important to keep in mind that certain tools are sometimes used in several distinct phases of a sequence, such as successive steps in processes of butchery or hide working (Plisson, 1993), which complicates efforts at identifying single, specific steps by use-wear analysis.

A - From use-wear to the reconstruction of group needs and activities

28Although use-wear analyses conducted on Middle Palaeolithic lithic tools in the 1980’s recognized the exploitation of animal resources (for example, Anderson-Gerfaud, 1980, 1990; Frame, 1986; Beyries, 1987a, 1993b) such as hide, the identification of traces linked to butchery was at first most likely confronted with a problem that is both methodological and taphonomic (see figure 3, and for a discussion of this subject, Part II, chapter 4.1). More recent studies have demonstrated that a considerable number, or even the majority, of tools bearing traces served in butchery activities, with the precise step undetermined (for example, Geneste, Plisson, 1996; Lemorini, 2000; Locht et al., 2002; Martínez-Molina, 2005; Pasquini, 2008; Claud, 2008). This level of interpretation could be obtained in one case, at Grotta Breuil, thanks to the combination of tool-function results with zooarchaeological data (Alhaïque, Lemorini, 1996).

29Our objective throughout the PCR was thus to construct a set of reference tools related to specific steps in the processing of animal carcasses (skinning, removal of meat and tendons, scraping of the periosteum prior to fracturing, disarticulation) in order to characterise the resulting use-wear at low to high levels of magnification. The goal was to examine the variation of butchery traces according to the raw materials (flint vs. quartzite) and tool-type (point, denticulate, notched piece, flake cleaver, biface) and to create a comparative reference for the differentiation of use-wear related to butchery from use-wear related to other activities. An additional aim was to define the variability of use-wear traces according to the step in the butchery process, in order to potentially reach a similar level of precision in the analysis of archaeological assemblages. For the zooarchaeologists as well, the study of marks left on faunal remains, whether from butchery, transformation, or use, constitutes an invaluable tool of reference for the reconstruction of the chaînes opératoires of animal resources exploitation (Castel et al., 1998; Laroulandie, 2004; Fontana et al., 2009; Leduc, 2010; Costamagno, 2012; Soulier, 2013; Chevallier, 2015). Traces of percussion reveal processes of marrow extraction (see Henri-Martin, 1910; Noe-Nygaard, 1977; Blumenschine, 1988; Brugal, Defleur 1989; Bunn, 1989; Cabrol, 1993; Alhaique, 1997; Anconetani, Ardèvol, 1998; Pickering, Egeland, 2006; Jin, Mills, 2011) and/or breaking down of carcasses (Gifford‑Gonzalez, 1989a; Vigne, 2005). Butchery cutmarks could indicate activities such as skinning, carcass disarticulation, meat removal, and/or tendons extraction (see Henri-Martin, 1906; Delpech, Villa, 1993; Tagliacozzo, Fiore, 1998; Castel, 1999; Costamagno, 1999; Laroulandie, 2000; Turner, 2002; Chiquet, 2004; Fiore et al., 2004; Pérez Ripoll, 2004; Tomé, 2005; Vigne, 2005; Leduc, 2010; Costamagno, 2012; Müller, 2013; Soulier, 2013). Even though cutmarks are amongst the earliest traces to be identified as signatures of human activities on animal bones (Lartet, 1860; Henri‑Martin, 1906, 1907 on ungulate bones from the site of La Quina; Milne-Edwards, 1875 cited in Laroulandie, 2007 on bird remains), it was not until the work of J. E. Guilday et al. (1962) followed by G. C. Frison (1970) that the fi systematic recording of butchery marks in archaeological assemblages was conducted. Since the 1980’s, zooarchaeologists have benefited from the ethnographic reference collections of L. R. Binford (1981), which connected specific types of cutmarks to specific stages of the butchery chaîne opératoire. Most widely used in prehistoric archaeology, this reference collection suffers from some biases and/or omissions (see Part I, chapter 3.1). One of the objectives of the PCR was to provide the zooarchaeological community with a new reference collection related to the use of Mousterian tools and documenting steps of the butchery process that were not referenced by L. R. Binford, such as the extraction of tendons. In parallel, based on the studies of M. Domínguez‑Rodrigo et al. (Domínguez-Rodrigo et al., 2009; de Juana et al., 2010), a second objective was to identify potential distinctive morphological criteria of the cutmarks that might aid in the identification of the tool used in different stages of carcass exploitation as a complement to the results of lithic use-wear analysis. Finally, in the experiments conducted as part of the PCR, certain parameters were varied (the butcher, the tool) with the aim of determining the impact of these two variables on the frequency of cutmarks left on the bones. Indeed, as cutmarks are epiphenomenal (Lyman, 1992), the factors that influence their occurrence and relative abundance remain poorly understood by the zooarchaeological community (see Part I, chapter 3.1).

30With regard to the phase of carcass acquisition, if we exclude layer E at Mandrin, in which a very large number of points present impact traces (Metz, 2015), the use of projectile points in the Middle Palaeolithic of Western Europe is only demonstrated at a few sites that have yielded a small number of points (often fewer than five) compatible with use as in hunting weapons (Caspar in Locht et al., 2002; Villa, Lenoir, 2006, 2009; Rios-Garaizar 2006, 2010, 2016; Galvan Santos et al., 2007-2008; Mussi, Villa 2008; Soressi, Locht, 2010; Locht et al., 2015; Rots, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015b; Lazuén, 2012a, 2012b; Daffara et al., 2014; Metz, 2015; see Part II, chapter 4.3 for a summary and discussion). The identification of points that have sustained impact at Middle Palaeolithic sites in Western Europe is hampered by the lack of experimental reference collections relevant to lithic implements from the period, aside those produced by S. Beyries and H. Plisson on Levallois points from the Levant (Plisson, Beyries, 1998). In the majority of cases, the interpretations seem to stem solely from the observation of stigma considered diagnostic of impact on references of Upper Palaeolithic tool types (Plisson, Geneste, 1989), without an experimental reference collection that would allow one to determine the diagnostic criteria unique to Middle Palaeolithic points. Fractures considered diagnostic of hunting activities have been produced experimentally during debitage and by trampling (Pargeter, 2011). These results cast doubt on assemblages that have yielded a small number of impacted points, as the damage could result from taphonomic factors (Pargeter, 2011). One of the objectives of the PCR is therefore to clarify the status of lithic points in the hunting equipment of Neanderthals in Western Europe, based on a reference collection of points, unmodified or retouched and in flint or in quartzite, employed in various activities including as perforating hunting weapons (see below and Part I, chapter 2.8).

31As for the working of hides, though it has been documented in Middle Palaeolithic lithic assemblages since the first use-wear analyses, there is little detailed data on the chaînes opératoires of hide processing for the period. The movement of the tool against the hide is not always indicated in publications, nor is the state of the hide, and the tool is only rarely assigned to a specific phase of hide processing, usually defleshing. Only the study conducted by C. Lemorini (2000) of several levels at La Combette and Grotta Breuil provided a relatively detailed interpretation of the tools used in hide working: the states of the hides, the presence of additives, the movements employed, and the steps of the chaîne opératoire. Proto-tanning with the use of animal fats was thus demonstrated at both sites, as was defleshing and the creation of “buttonholes” (cutting and perforation). The hide processing is frequently inferred, but ultimately little documented in terms of the methods employed. We hope, with this PCR, to contribute to the identification of the tools preferred for these activities and to potentially describe the different phases, including the modes of action, the states of hides treated, and if possible the phase in which each tool was used.

B - Experimental reference collections and the acquisition and processing of animal materials

32With the exception of experimentation on bone retouchers, which is a non-dietary use of animal materials, only the fi three steps of the chaîne opératoire – acquisition, transformation, and preparation/ production – were examined in the PCR. In addition to the practices of acquisition documented through the projectile experiments, different butchery operations were conducted in the experimental sessions: skinning, extraction of organs, breaking down the carcass, dismemberment, disarticulation, defleshing, extraction of tendons, scraping of the periosteum, and fracturing of bones for marrow. In parallel, several experiments were conducted on the processing of fresh and dry hides. Finally, in order to document the variability of traces produced by contact with soft materials (meat, tendons), medium-hard materials (dry hide, wood), and hard materials, experiments were conducted on different hard animal materials (antler, horn, bone, shell).

33Concerning the fauna, only the results relevant to butchery operations that require cutting tools are included here. The experiments involving fracturing, for disarticulation and the extraction of marrow or brains, will be addressed in other publications. The studies on bone retouchers have already been published (Mallye et al., 2012b) and are not presented here in detail, but are referenced in the final general discussion as well as in the discussion of site function at three sites (Les Pradelles, Les Fieux, Grotte du Noisetier). With regard to the lithic reference collections, we have analysed and included all of the tools that present a sharp or perforating active zone that was used, with the exception of pieces in schist, regardless of the activity. Surfaces are not included in the study (three bifaces used to abrade the surface of a hide).

a - Acquisition

34The experiments relevant to the acquisition of carcasses were conducted on two adult sheeps (Ovis aries) and two red deers (Cervus elaphus), killed shortly before the experiments. The carcasses were suspended in anatomical position with cords or chains (fi 10a). Amongst the 107 points used as weapons, the majority (n =95) were in flint and 12 were in quartz or quartzite. Different types of points were used for axial hafting (n =100) or latero‑distal hafting (n =7) (tableau 3, figure 10b). For the first sheep carcass, 15 points and two bifaces hafted axially were propelled with the use of a spear gun designed for under-water use. For the other carcasses, the points were hafted and used on thrusting spears (n =92).

Figure 10 - Carcass acquisition simulation. a: device for carcass suspension used in a thrusting experiment; b: detail of the axial hafting of a quartzite point with adhesive

Figure 10 - Carcass acquisition simulation. a: device for carcass suspension used in a thrusting experiment; b: detail of the axial hafting of a quartzite point with adhesive

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Table 3 - Pieces used as hunting weapons

Sheep

Doe

Mechanical propulsion

Thrusting

Thrusting

Total

Axial hafting

Axial hafting

Lateral hafting

Unretouched points

7

0

19

0

26

Retouched points

7

13

6

2

28

Mousterian points

1

17

18

5

41

Points in quartz or quartzite

0

0

12

0

12

Bifaces

2

0

0

0

2

Total

17

30

55

7

109

35The potential traces left by the impact of these weapons on the bones were not studied. None-theless, we did observe traces of impact on some of the red deer ribs that are comparable to those described by C. Letourneux and J.-M. Pétillon. More systematic observations are still necessary.

b - The butchery of carcasses

The lithic tools

36The lithic reference collection related to butchery comprises 164 active zones (table 4). It includes unretouched pieces (74 active zones on flakes and points) and retouched edges: points (9 active zones), denticulated (33 active zones), cleavers on flakes (24 active zones) and bifaces (24 active zones). They are made on flint (n =76), quartzite (n =76), and, more rarely, on ophite (n =3) and schist (n =9). The provenance of raw materials is identical to the reference lithic collection used in the acquisition and processing of plant materials.

Table 4 - Tools used in butchery (by number of active zones)

Table 4 - Tools used in butchery (by number of active zones)

Table 4 - Tools used in butchery (by number of active zones) - continued

Table 4 - Tools used in butchery (by number of active zones) - continued

37The large majority of active zones served in cutting, with some elements used to remove scraps of meat in a transverse motion and some bifaces and flake cleavers used in percussion, to remove meat, disarticulate by force, or segment the vertebral column. The latter mode of action is effective in accelerating carcass processing (Frison, 1979) and is indispensable in breaking down the rib cage of large ungulates (Vallet, 1997).

38With rare exceptions (figures 11, 15), the tools were held in the bare hand, sometimes protected with a piece of leather (figures 12-16). Indeed, recourse to hafting did not seem necessary or advantageous for tools used in resting gestures (as opposed to percussion). Butchery requires the effective penetration of the flesh with the tool, especially when accessing the joints for dismemberment. Therefore, the tool handle must not impede the penetration of the tool and must be adjusted to the tool, which can require a lengthy process of handle fabrication, as in the case of bifaces, for example (Claud 2008; Part I, chapter 2.10). The lithic tools must be glued or pinched into the handle and not juxtaposed to it, because the contact with flesh dampens connective bindings, causing them to stretch and lose their effectiveness (Frison, 1979). Nonetheless, the hafting of two small Levallois points in quartzite used to remove the meat from a bison carcass seems to have improved the effectiveness of the points, making them easier to manipulate. The handles were fairly thin, did not impede penetration of the tool, and were made fairly quickly (from partially-split wood). The flake cleavers used to fracture the ribs and segment the vertebral column of the bison were hafted in wood handles. Indeed, the penetration of the tool in these cases was fairly shallow, and the objective required a force that surpassed that allowed when the tools were hand-held. The handle also absorbed partially the shocks from the blows, making the exercise much more comfortable for the user (figure 11).

Figure 11 - Ribs disarticulation from a bison carcass by percussion with a hafted flake cleaver

Figure 11 - Ribs disarticulation from a bison carcass by percussion with a hafted flake cleaver

Photograph: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

The species processed

39The faunal reference collection related to the butchery of complete carcasses is comprised of 12 carcasses from different species (table 5). In order to restrict the number of variables, these experiments were conducted primarily on red deer carcasses (Cervus elaphus) (n =9). This species was preferred because it was both easy to access and provided an excellent correlate for the mid-sized ungulates widely hunted in the Middle Palaeolithic in Europe such as red deer, reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), and ibex (Capra ibex). Concurrently, occasional experiments were conducted on other animal species: cattle (Bos taurus), horse (Equus ferus), reindeer and fox (Vulpes vulpes).

Table 5 - Whole carcasses that were experimentally butchered

Carcass ID

Date

Side

Tool

Raw material

Experimenter

Species

Activities

Boar 1

june 2007

R

denticulate

flint

C. Thiébaut

boar

disarticulation defleshing

june 2007

L

mousterian point

flint

S. Costamagno

boar

disarticulation defleshing

Sheep 1

oct. 2007

R

pseudo-Levallois point

flint

S. Costamagno

sheep

defleshing

oct. 2007

L

unmodified flake

quartzite

L. Streit

sheep

disarticulation defleshing

Red deer 1

oct. 2007

R

denticulate

flint

C. Thiébaut

red deer

defleshing

oct. 2007

L

mousterian point

flint

A. Coudenneau S. Costamagno

Red deer

defleshing

Red deer 2

june 2008

R

Unmodified flake

quartzite

V. Mourre

doe

defleshing

june 2008

L

denticulate

flint

A. Coudenneau S. Costamagno

doe

defleshing

Red deer 3

oct. 2008

R

denticulate

quartzite

V. Mourre

doe

defleshing

oct. 2008

L

unretouched point

flint

M.-P. Coumont

doe

defleshing

Red deer 4

oct. 2009

R

flake cleaver

quartzite

M. Deschamps

doe

defleshing

oct. 2009

L

denticulate

quartzite

V. Mourre

doe

defleshing

Red deer 5

june 2010

R

flake cleaver

quartzite

V. Mourre

young red deer

defleshing

june 2010

L

flake cleaver

ophite

M. Deschamps

young red deer

defleshing

Red deer 6

18 oct. 2010

R

unmodified flake

fine quartzite

A. Val

young doe

defleshing

18 oct. 2010

L

unmodified flake

schiste

C. Thiébaut

young doe

defleshing

Red deer 7

20 oct. 2010

R

unmodified flake

fine quartzite

S. Costamagno

doe

disarticulation

20 oct. 2010

L

unmodified flake

fine quartzite

G. Chacón S. Costamagno

doe

disarticulation

Bison 1

april 2011

-

various

various

various

bison

disarticulation defleshing

Red deer 8

03 oct. 2012

R

denticulate

quartzite

V. Mourre

doe

defleshing

03 oct. 2012

L

denticulate

quartzite

V. Mourre

doe

defleshing

Red deer 9

04 oct. 2012

unmodified flake

flint

butcher pro 1

doe

disarticulation

unmodified flake

flint

butcher pro 2

doe

disarticulation

Activities employed in the complete butchery of carcasses

40Of the 12 carcasses, 11 half-carcasses were cut up with quartzite tools and 11 with flint tools (figures 12-16). Ophite and schist were only used on two half-carcasses (figure 16, table 6). The tools used in the processing of these carcasses are listed in table 4. With the exception of two carcasses that were already eviscerated, evisceration was achieved with Mousterian stone tools. The carcasses were systematically skinned according to methods that varied according to specific questions. In most cases, the longitudinal incision running along the leg toward the evisceration incision was positioned on the medial surface of the legs, but for certain half‑arcasses, it was placed in another position (see below). The placement of the starting incision around the legs also varied, from the upper leg to just above the hooves (table 7).

Table 6 - Number of half-carcasses experimentally butchered according to the lithic raw material and type of tool used. The bison carcass was butchered with different types of tool and is not listed in this table

Flint

Quartzite

Ophite

Schist

Total

Unmodified flake

2

5

-

1

8

Denticulate

3

4

-

-

7

Flake cleaver

-

2

1

-

3

Mousterian point

2

-

-

-

2

Unretouched point

1

-

-

-

1

Pseudo-Levallois point

1

-

-

-

1

Total

9

11

1

1

22

41The carcasses were systematically dismembered by detaching the scapula from the trunk and femur from the pelvis. The operations performed on the axial skeleton were fairly variable (table 8). The head was systematically separated from the vertebral column. It was sometimes skinned, sometimes defleshed, or heated and then fractured for extraction of the brain. The post-cranial axial skeleton was, in almost all cases, defleshed and sometimes sectioned into multiple segments. In several instances, the ribs were separated from the vertebral column either by fracturing / flexion or with the aid of a sharp-edged tool (table 8). In the experiments, the appendicular skeleton was either entirely disarticulated or entirely defleshed (table 7). In the latter case, the muscle masses were removed by sectioning at the level of the muscle attachments but the bones and limbs were never scraped. The tendons of extensor muscles hoof‑flexors were removed from certain carcasses, as were the tendons on the posterior surface of the phalanges, in fewer cases (table 7). In some experiments, the phalanges were disarticulated from the metapodials; in others, they were disarticulated from each other (table 7). No limb bones were fractured for marrow.

Activities performed on the other carcasses

42Skinning, fleshing, disarticulation, and extraction of tendons were conducted with points on reindeer carcasses (n =2). Four forelimbs of sheep, seven of cow, and one of horse were defleshed and disarticulated with bifaces (n =8). A Mousterian point and an unmodified flake were used for defleshing one fox carcass. Eleven active zones were used to scrape the ribs of the horse and the long bones of the cattle and lamb (table 6). Nine active zones were used in percussion for the disarticulation of the vertebral column of different species (horse, bison, lamb). Finally, three flake cleavers were used to fracture three cow femurs to extract marrow.

Table 7 - Activities related to skinning and disarticulation of the limbs from whole carcasses

Table 7 - Activities related to skinning and disarticulation of the limbs from whole carcasses

The location of the initial incision of the skin is listed in the column titled “fi circular incision”. In certain cases (red deer 8), a second circular incision was made at a lower position. The column “Longitudinal incision below circular incision” is only indicated if a longitudinal incision was made below the initial circular incision. In the“Defleshing” column, the term “coarse” is used to designate less intensive butchery that did not involve contact between the tool and the bones. The point of disarticulation is listed in the column“Disarticulation zeugopod / autopod”

Figure 12 - Wild boar right half carcass processing chaîne opératoire with flint denticulates

Figure 12 - Wild boar right half carcass processing chaîne opératoire with flint denticulates

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 13 - Red deer 2 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with flint denticulates

Figure 13 - Red deer 2 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with flint denticulates

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes).

Figure 14 - Red deer 2 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with quartzite denticulates

Figure 14 - Red deer 2 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with quartzite denticulates

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 15 - Red deer 3 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with quartzite denticulates

Figure 15 - Red deer 3 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with quartzite denticulates

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 16 - Red deer 6 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with unmodified flakes in quartzite and schist

Figure 16 - Red deer 6 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with unmodified flakes in quartzite and schist

Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes

Table 8 - Butchery activities conducted on the axial skeletons of complete carcasses

Table 8 - Butchery activities conducted on the axial skeletons of complete carcasses

Blank fields indicate when an activity was not performed while checked boxes indicate when it was, with a note specifying the tool that was used. If the activities were not performed with the same tools used on the limbs, the tool is indicated in the column “Side”. The activities that required percussion are indicated with the abbreviation “percu”. Abbreviations: CRA: cranium, ATL: atlas, CER3: third cervical vertebra, THO7: seventh thoracic vertebra, LUM 3: third lumbar, SAC: sacrum, CAU: caudal vertebra, RIB1: first rib.

c - Processing of animal products

Hide working

43Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), sheep, boar, horse, red deer, cow, and bison hides were processed. Several steps were necessary and we employed 49 tools in different raw materials and various modes of action (table 9).

Table 9 - Summary of the tools used in hide working (in terms of number of active zones).

Table 9 - Summary of the tools used in hide working (in terms of number of active zones).

44The first step of hide processing consists in the creation of holes for stretching the hides prior to defleshing. The hides were pierced or incised with various tools in flint (unmodified flakes, macro-denticulate, Mousterian point) (figure 17a). The hides were then stretched on the ground or on a wooden frame (figure 17b). Defleshing, the goal of which is to clean the hides of all traces of fat or meat, was achieved on fresh hide (n =17) (figure 17b-d) or on dry hide (n =4) (figure 18), primarily by cutting, more rarely by scraping and percussion. Three flake cleavers, two Mousterian points in flint, 11 unmodified flakes and three bifaces were used in this phase.

45The removal of hair from a red deer dry hide was conducted with an unmodified flake in quartzite (figure 18d). These experiments were not pursued further because we confirmed that hair can easily be removed from hides without the use of stone tools, by masceration in standing water for several days, after which the hairs detach naturally (Chahine, 2002). Furthermore, hair removal is not required in hide working, and the conservation of hairs on a hide improves its insulating power.

46A doe skin, a boar skin, and a goat skin were treated with ochre, and bifaces were used to apply the powder to the surface of the skin, with the goal of abrasing (the final phase of cleaning, smoothing), colouring, and preserving them. The edges and/or surfaces of the tools were used. These very occasional experiments were conducted in an attempt to reproduce the signs of friction observed on the surfaces of some archaeological bifaces (Claud, 2008), in parallel with several other experiments involving mineral materials. The traces present on these pieces are not described in detail in this monograph, even in the chapter dedicated to the experimental bifaces; we refer the reader to the photographs and descriptions available in the doctoral thesis of one of the authors (Claud, 2008).

47Finally, the fabrication of hide objects involved the use of rotational motions (perforation) for the creation of “buttonholes”, as well as cutting motions for the production of leather thongs (figure 19a). Dry hide, tanned and untanned, was cut and perforated with tools in flint and in quartzite: unmodified flakes, points, denticulates, and bifaces. Thongs were softened with two Clactonian notches in flint, a denticulate in quartzite, and an unmodified flake, by rubbing the hide across the concavity of a notch or an unmodified edge with a concave outline (figure 19b).

48As we did not generate an experimental reference collection of side scrapers (see Part I, chapter 2) and because the archaeological study sites did not yield many traces indicative of hide working, our experiments on hide are ultimately limited, compared to our butchery and wood-working experiments , in terms of the number of pieces used and the different processing stages performed. It must be noted that in the interpretation of use-wear on the archaeological tools, in conjunction with these experiments, we used data from previous experimental studies of hide working, especially with side scrapers (Lemorini, 2000; Coudenneau, 2004; Claud, 2008).

Hard animal products processing

49Some experiments involving 32 tools of various types in flint (n =25) and in quartzite (n =7) (table 10) were conducted on hard animal products. The objective was to produce use-wear associated with the working of these materials (dry bone, fresh bone, dry antler, soaked horn, and shell) and to observe the difference in the use-wear traces produced by these activities and those resulting from butchery activities, woodworking, and hide working. Ultimately, these experiments might be useful in identifying tools that were potentially used in working these materials, even if direct evidence of tools and objects made of hard animal products is extremely rare in the Middle Palaeolithic of Western Europe (but see Villa, d’Errico, 2001; Soressi et al., 2013).

50The modes of action employed were relatively varied: perforation, scraping, grooving, percussion and sawing (figure 20).

Figure 17 - Activities performed on fresh hide

Figure 17 - Activities performed on fresh hide

Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 18 - Activities performed on dry hide

Figure 18 - Activities performed on dry hide

Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes

Figure 19 - Production of leather thongs

Figure 19 - Production of leather thongs

Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes

Table 10 - Summary of the tools used to work hard animal materials (in terms of number of active zones)

Flint

Quartzite

Total

Unretouched points and flakes

Bec

Retouched points

Bifaces

Unretouched points and flakes

Treatment of bone

18

Dry bone

9

scraping

3

2

5

engraving

2

2

sawing

1

1

incision

1

1

Fresh bone

9

scraping

1

1

2

sawing

4

4

grooving

3

3

Treatment of antler

4

Dry antler

4

percussion

1

1

sawing

1

1

scraping

2

2

Treatment of horn

5

Soaked horn

5

sawing

2

2

4

perforation

1

1

Treatment of shell

5

perforation

5

5

Total

7

1

9

8

Total

25

7

32

Figure 20 - Working of hard animal materials

Figure 20 - Working of hard animal materials

Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 2 - Chaînes opératoires of the acquisition and treatment of plant and animal products
Crédits CAD: C. Thiébaut and M. Coutureau
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 486k
Titre Figure 3 - Overview of the use-wear data provided by studies conducted on samples of more than 30 pieces, and published between 1980 and 2002
Crédits After Claud, 2004 and the following references: Anderson-Gerfaud, 1981; Frame, 1986; Beyries, Boëda, 1987; Beyries, 1987a, 1993b; Lemorini, 2000; Locht et al., 2002
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 159k
Titre Table 1 - Summary of the experimental tools used in the acquisition and treatment of wood: lithic raw materials and types of tools according to the activities and the modes of action employed.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 257k
Titre Figure 4 - Tree trunk felling
Légende a: by percussion with a hafted or hand-held flake cleaver; b: by sawing with a flint denticulate
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 307k
Titre Figure 5 - Bark stripping
Légende a: stripping bark from a standing truck by percussion with a flake cleaver; b: stripping bark by percussion with a flake cleaver; c: stripping bark by scraping with a flake cleaver; d-e: stripping bark by scraping with a quartzite flake
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 266k
Titre Figure 6 – Shaping
Légende a: thinning by percussion with a flake cleaver; b: thinning by scraping with a flake; c: spear manufacturing by scraping with a notch
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 427k
Titre Figure 7 – Shaping
Légende a: perforation with a quartzite point; b: perforation with a flint point; c: sawing with a flint notch; d: grooving with a flint flake
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 144k
Titre Figure 8 - Polishing a spear point by scraping with a quartzite notch
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 166k
Titre Figure 9 - Schematic illustration of the technological sub-system for the exploitation of animal resources
Crédits Modified from Tresset, 1996; CAD: M. Coutureau
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 193k
Titre Figure 10 - Carcass acquisition simulation. a: device for carcass suspension used in a thrusting experiment; b: detail of the axial hafting of a quartzite point with adhesive
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 174k
Titre Table 4 - Tools used in butchery (by number of active zones)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 324k
Titre Table 4 - Tools used in butchery (by number of active zones) - continued
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 271k
Titre Figure 11 - Ribs disarticulation from a bison carcass by percussion with a hafted flake cleaver
Crédits Photograph: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Titre Table 7 - Activities related to skinning and disarticulation of the limbs from whole carcasses
Légende The location of the initial incision of the skin is listed in the column titled “fi circular incision”. In certain cases (red deer 8), a second circular incision was made at a lower position. The column “Longitudinal incision below circular incision” is only indicated if a longitudinal incision was made below the initial circular incision. In the“Defleshing” column, the term “coarse” is used to designate less intensive butchery that did not involve contact between the tool and the bones. The point of disarticulation is listed in the column“Disarticulation zeugopod / autopod”
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 461k
Titre Figure 12 - Wild boar right half carcass processing chaîne opératoire with flint denticulates
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 273k
Titre Figure 13 - Red deer 2 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with flint denticulates
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 312k
Titre Figure 14 - Red deer 2 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with quartzite denticulates
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 256k
Titre Figure 15 - Red deer 3 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with quartzite denticulates
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 319k
Titre Figure 16 - Red deer 6 half-carcass processing chaîne opératoire with unmodified flakes in quartzite and schist
Crédits Photographs: PCR Des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 307k
Titre Table 8 - Butchery activities conducted on the axial skeletons of complete carcasses
Légende Blank fields indicate when an activity was not performed while checked boxes indicate when it was, with a note specifying the tool that was used. If the activities were not performed with the same tools used on the limbs, the tool is indicated in the column “Side”. The activities that required percussion are indicated with the abbreviation “percu”. Abbreviations: CRA: cranium, ATL: atlas, CER3: third cervical vertebra, THO7: seventh thoracic vertebra, LUM 3: third lumbar, SAC: sacrum, CAU: caudal vertebra, RIB1: first rib.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 308k
Titre Table 9 - Summary of the tools used in hide working (in terms of number of active zones).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-21.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 240k
Titre Figure 17 - Activities performed on fresh hide
Crédits Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-22.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 366k
Titre Figure 18 - Activities performed on dry hide
Crédits Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-23.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 353k
Titre Figure 19 - Production of leather thongs
Crédits Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-24.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 309k
Titre Figure 20 - Working of hard animal materials
Crédits Photographs: PCR des Traces et des Hommes
URL http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/docannexe/image/5137/img-25.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Sandrine Costamagno, Émilie Claud, Céline Thiébaut, Maria Gema Chacón‑Navarro et Marie-Cécile Soulier, « The exploitation of plant and animal resources in the Palaeolithic: specific approaches for specific questions », Palethnologie [En ligne], 10 | 2019, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2019, consulté le 15 décembre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/palethnologie/5137 ; DOI : 10.4000/palethnologie.5137

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Auteurs

Sandrine Costamagno

University Toulouse Jean Jaurès / CNRS, UMR 5608 – Traces
costamag[at]univ-tlse2.fr

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Émilie Claud

University of Bordeaux, UMR 5199 – Pacea / INRAP
emilie.claud[at]inrap.fr

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Céline Thiébaut

University Toulouse Jean Jaurès, UMR 5608 – Traces
celine.thiebaut[at]wanadoo.fr

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Maria Gema Chacón‑Navarro

Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social / Universitat Rovira i Virgili / UMR 7194 – HNHP
gchacon[at]prehistoria.urv.cat fr

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Marie-Cécile Soulier

University Toulouse Jean Jaurès / CNRS, UMR 5608 – Traces
mariecsoulier[at]gmail.com

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Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Palethnologie est mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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