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Menez-Dregan (Plouhinec, far western Europe): The lithic industry from layer 7 and its Acheulean components

Abstract : The Lower Palaeolithic site of Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistere), located in Brittany at the very tip of western Europe, has been under excavation since 1991. It is an ancient marine cave where the roof has gradually collapsed, and hence partly protected the archaeological living floors from erosion. The fauna has not been preserved due to the acidic environment at the site, leaving only the lithic industry to show the living style of the human groups who settled there and, notably, mastered the very early lighting/control of fire in late MIS 13 or early MIS 12. Recent digging of layer 7 has provided a lithic assemblage comparable to that of the upper layers at the site and is representative of the Colombanian techno-typological facies. This Lower Palaeolithic industry is contemporary with the Acheulean but differs from it as the heavy-duty tools are mostly cobble tools (choppers). The raw materials used were directly collected from the site itself or from the surrounding pebble beaches; from this stage of collection the use of two chaines operatoires is clearly evident. The flint pebbles/cobbles are preferentially used for flake production. In most of the cases the "SSDA-Clactonian" (systeme par surface de debitage alternee) method is applied providing flakes with wide striking platforms seldom facetted, prominent bulbs and open angled ventral faces; sometimes flakes are produced by percussion on anvil; they are never Levallois. The small tool kit mainly includes denticulates and notches with a few scrapers. The heavy-duty tools mostly comprised of various types of choppers are shaped on larger cobbles selected for their rather flat, often elongated shape and for their homogenous nature sandstone or microgranite). This paper presents some specimens yielded by layer 7; although few, they are typical and definitely akin to the Acheulean techno-typological facies, especially two cleavers made on flakes (quartzite and microgranite), and two bifacial tools roughly shaped on cobbles (sandstone and quartzite), with a third one from the top of the underlying layer 8. These findings revive the question of the relationship between the Acheulean and the Colombanian. Moreover the position of the site in a setting where the natural rocks are available in the form of pebbles/cobbles, flint only as small pebbles, questions the influence of raw material on technical traditions. This provides arguments for understanding the Lower Palaeolithic variability and contributes to the debate on the definition of Acheulean.
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Anne-Lyse Ravon, Claire Gaillard, Jean-Laurent Monnier. Menez-Dregan (Plouhinec, far western Europe): The lithic industry from layer 7 and its Acheulean components. Quaternary International, Elsevier, 2016, The Acheulean in Europe: origins, evolution and dispersal, 411 (Part B), pp.132--143 ⟨10.1016/j.quaint.2015.12.097⟩. ⟨hal-01395327⟩

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