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New paradigms in the exploitation of Mesolithic shell middens in Atlantic France: The example of Beg-er-Vil, Brittany

Abstract : The Atlantic coast of north-west France is one of the classic shell-midden regions of the European Mesolithic, made famous by the excavations of Téviec and Hoedic in the first half of the 20th century. At this time, there was a lack of interest in the food refuse component of shell middens. By the end of the 1990s new study methods and techniques had also contributed to a better description of the varied activities of these coastal populations. In Atlantic France, new excavations have demonstrated that shell middens are not a site type but rather one of a variety of stratigraphic units that make up the total settlement pattern. Our perception of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers of the French Atlantic coast has now changed from a population pre-occupied with day-to-day survival and forced to eat shellfish out of necessity, to fisher-hunter-gatherers involved in varied activities. Their knowledge of marine biotopes is revealed by the diversity of marine animals dedicated to food, but also by the collection of other raw materials washed up on the beach , including flint or shells devoid of flesh. The latter give us access to the symbolic sphere and were clearly and carefully selected for ornamental purposes.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 11:27:26 AM
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Catherine Dupont, Grégor Marchand. New paradigms in the exploitation of Mesolithic shell middens in Atlantic France: The example of Beg-er-Vil, Brittany. Quaternary International, Elsevier, 2021, 584, pp.59-71. ⟨10.1016/j.quaint.2020.09.043⟩. ⟨hal-03009965⟩

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