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Handaxes and leafpoints of eastern France: Spatial patterns and role of the raw materials

Lamotte, Agnès, Chanson, Jean-Marie, Willemann, Georges, Galtier, Frédéric
Quaternary international 2017 v.428 pp. 79-90
Hominidae, landscapes, morphometry, quartz, quartzite, raw materials, sandstone, terraces, France
In the Haute-Saône department, studies of surface collections and the few rare preserved stratified open air-sites demonstrate the presence of handaxes whose typology indicates Lower and Middle Palaeolithic. Here, raw materials are mostly high quality and characterized by its diversity and availability across the landscape. In this one small region 125 km by 75 km, one can find many geological formations containing metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary formations rich in both siliceous (Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Oligocene) and non-siliceous (Carboniferous, Permian, terraces contexts, fluvio-glacial contexts) rocks. In this context, hominids occupied the region and established complex relationships with the diverse raw materials.Five major sedimentary complexes provide at least 17 different types of raw materials such as flint, chert, quartz, quartzite, radiolarite and sandstone that have been knapped since the beginning of the Palaeolithic. Among these, 11 were chosen and appropriated for handaxe shaping, while only three were selected for leafpoint shaping. Although prehistoric knappers were adapted to the morphometric constraints of their raw materials; among leafpoints, a clear selection was made towards tabular, ovular, and plano-convex flint nodules and flake blanks.