Scientific article

The First Mesolithic in the French Alps: New data from La Grande Rivoire rockshelter (Vercors range, Isère, France)

Published inQuaternary international, vol. 423, p. 193-212
Publication date2016

Discovered in 1986, La Grande Rivoire is a rockshelter located in the north of the prealpine mountain range of Vercors (Northern French Alps). It lies at 580 m asl, on the west side of the Furon valley, at the foot of a cliff. The 6-m stratigraphy reveals a continuous chronocultural sequence starting from the First Mesolithic to the Gallo-Roman period. The present communication aims at characterizing the earliest occupation of the site attributed to the First Mesolithic (ca. 8500–7000 cal. BC). The new multidisciplinary data are intended to contribute to the understanding of the regional chronocultural evolution. The deposits are constituted of very rich organic materials, possibly resulting from the degradation and combustion of plant litters. Their natural and/or anthropogenic origin still remains unclear. The excellent state of preservation of the faunal remains (superficially covered of an ashy encrustation) and the bone refittings would indicate a low post-depositional impact on the faunal material in this sector. The highly intentionally fragmented long bone remains indicate (intensive?) carcass exploitation of various large game species, among which red deer seems to predominate. Plant remains analysis gives also information on wild picking products, especially hazelnuts. Osseous material industry is dominated by waste products occurring from sectioning action of red deer antler by notching. Few examples of bone and tooth working highlight the use of removal by diffuse percussion during shaping. Preliminary observations conducted on the lithic assemblages show that domestic tools are mostly manufactured on local raw materials of poor quality. Exogenous raw materials of better quality are mainly used for the fabrication of microliths using the microburin technique; the latter tending to disappear at the end of the sequence. Usewear analysis on arrowheads shows that triangles are present throughout the sequence and always hafted as barbs while Sauveterre points and segments are only present in the oldest decapages.

  • First Mesolithic
  • Vercors
  • Alps
  • Mountain environment
Citation (ISO format)
ANGELIN, Alexandre et al. The First Mesolithic in the French Alps: New data from La Grande Rivoire rockshelter (Vercors range, Isère, France). In: Quaternary international, 2016, vol. 423, p. 193–212. doi: 10.1016/j.quaint.2015.06.027
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1040-6182

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