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La Grotte d'Aurignac and the Aurignacian

Aurignac cave

La Grotte d'Aurignac

Photo: Totor-22
Permission: GNU Free Documentation License


La Grotte d'Aurignac is a cave located in the commune of Aurignac , in Haute-Garonne (Midi-Pyrenees , France). Occupied during the Upper Palaeolithic, it gave its name to the Aurignacian , a prehistoric culture of the beginning of that period. The cave is named after the town in which it is located, Aurignac. The cave is now reduced to a small rock-shelter . It is located at the northern end of the town of Aurignac, 1.6 km from the village. The cave was discovered in 1852 by Jean-Baptiste Bonnemaison and studied from 1860 by Édouard Lartet. The cave is very rich archaeologically.

Text above translated and adapted from the French Wikipedia.


Aurignac

Map of Aurignacian culture.

Photo: Hughcharlesparker
Permission: CC-BY-SA-3.0



Grotte d'Aurignac
Aurignacian of la grotte d'Aurignac, Haute-Garonne

1: Grattoir caréné, keeled scraper.
2 and 3: Grattoir - these are convergent grattoirs, with two scraping surfaces meeting at an angle forming an isosceles triangle.
4: Sagaie à base fendue, spear point with split base.
5: Lissoir, polisher for working hides.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Originals, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Grotte d'Aurignac
Aurignacian of la grotte d'Aurignac, Haute-Garonne

Baton percé, spear straightener.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Grotte d'Aurignac
Aurignacian of la grotte d'Aurignac, Haute-Garonne

Os gravé, engraved bone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Aurignacian blade
Aurignacian of la grotte d'Aurignac, Haute-Garonne

Aurignacian scraper on a blade, from the type site, Aurignac Cave in Southern France.

Date: between 37 000 and 28 000 BP
Medium: Flint
Current location: Muséum de Toulouse, France
Object history: Findspot: Aurignac cave, Haute-Garonne, France. Former collection of Édouard Lartet, 1861

Photo: Didier Descouens
Permission: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.




Aurignac tools
Blades from la grotte d'Aurignac, retouched to form grattoirs, end scrapers.

The Aurignacian was the first Upper Palaeolithic culture, 36 000 - 28 000 BP.

The Aurignacian culture occupied vast regions of Europe (amongst other places) during intensely cold climates and brief temperate periods. They invented technical skills, particularly in flint knapping as well as in the use of bones and antlers.

They were the first artists to express themselves almost solely with painting or engraving animals, cupules adn vulvas, in stone and wood.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source and text: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Scrapers from la grotte d'Aurignac.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Various retouched blades from la grotte d'Aurignac.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Percuteur, a hammer stone for knapping flint, from la grotte d'Aurignac.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Burins from la grotte d'Aurignac.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

These were labelled Burins busqués, or beaked burins. The tool on the right has a grattoir, an end scraper, on the closest end to the camera.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Burins from La Grotte d'Aurignac.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Grattoirs museaux, muzzle shaped scrapers.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Whistles from la Grotte d'Aurignac.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Split base spear points, characteristic of the Aurignacian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Spear points.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux



Aurignac tools

Bone awls, used for making holes in leather. The awl in the right foreground has an eye to secure it to a thong, to ensure that it doesn't get lost.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d’art et d’archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux








L'abri Lartet


Abri Lartet

l'abri Lartet, Gorge d'Enfer, upstream twenty metres from l'abri du Poisson.
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014



Abri Lartet
Aurignacian of l'abri Lartet aux Eyzies-de-Tayac, Dordogne

Os gravé et encoché (moulage), engraved and notched bone.

This was discovered in 1865.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye









L'abri Castenet



Castanet abri
L'abri Castanet is treated in greater detail here. It is one of the rock shelters of Castel Merle with prehistoric engravings dating from the Aurignacian.




Abri Castanet

L'abri Castanet
Photo: http://www.livescience.com/20278-gallery-europe-oldest-rock-art.html



Aurignacian of the Vezere and Dordogne valleys


The geographical situation of l'abri Castanet in the Vallon des Roches.

Red dots: Principal Aurignacian sites of the valleys of the Vézère and the Dordogne.

Photo and text: Mensan et al. (2012)




Abri Castanet
Aurignacian of l'abri Castanet, à Sergeac, Dordogne

Collier, necklace.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Castanet
Aurignacian of l'abri Castanet, à Sergeac, Dordogne

Left and right: Os gravé, engraved bone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Castanet
Aurignacian of l'abri Castanet, à Sergeac, Dordogne

12 to 16: Sagaie à base fendue, spear points with split base.

17: Biseau, wedge.

18: Lissoir, polisher for working hides.

Far right: Bone point for a spear.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Castanet
Aurignacian of l'abri Castanet, à Sergeac, Dordogne

Left and centre: Bone point for a spear.

Right: Lame, blade.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Castanet
Aurignacian of l'abri Castanet, à Sergeac, Dordogne

Far left, left centre, right centre: Grattoir, scraper.

Far right: Grattoir caréné, keeled scraper.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Castanet
Aurignacian of l'abri Castanet, à Sergeac, Dordogne

Left: Burin

Right: Perçoir, drill.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye








L'abri Blanchard des Roches


Castel-Merle
L'abri Blanchard des Roches is treated in greater detail here. It is one of the rock shelters of Castel Merle with prehistoric engravings dating from the Aurignacian.





Abri Blanchard des Roches

L'abri Blanchard des Roches
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014



Abri Blanchard Abri Blanchard Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Sculpture figurant un phallus, corne, sculpture of a phallus, horn.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

29: Bâton percé, spear straightener.

This object is in very good condition, and has a hole which is almost perfectly cylindrical, as though it has been drilled using a modern drill bit.

It has been distorted into an oval shape by use.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Engraved and notched bone.

This is the famous 'calendar bone'.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Facsimile, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Marshack’s schematic of the engraved marks on the Blanchard bone. Courtesy Harvard University, Peabody Museum.

Photo: Marshack, in http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/28/rosenberg.php, rotated 180° to agree with the photo of the bone.




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Marshack’s schematic of the Blanchard bone marks laid out flat next to his own lunar schema for comparison.

Photo: Marshack, in http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/28/rosenberg.php




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

32 and 34: Pendoloque, pendant.

33: Collier, necklace.

Bottom left: Object in haematite

Bottom right: Object in ivory (Facsimile)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Left: Os gravé, engraved bone.

38 and 39: Poinçoin, awl.

Second from right: Bois gravé, engraved antler.

Far right: Ciseau gravé, engraved chisel or wedge.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Left: Lame retouchée, retouched blade.

Right: Burin.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Left and centre right: Sagaie à base fendue, spear point with split base.

Centre left and right: Sagaie losangique, rhombic spearpoint, characteristic of the Aurignacian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri BlanchardAbri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Grattoir carénés, keeled scrapers.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Far left: Grattoir, scraper.

Centre left: Grattoir double, scraper on each end of the tool.

Centre right: Burin.

Far right: Perçoir, awl.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




Abri Blanchard Abri Blanchard
Aurignacian of l'abri Blanchard des Roches à Sergeac, Dordogne

Gravure figurant une vulve, calcaire. Engraving of a vulva, in limestone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye









La Ferrassie

La Ferrassie La Ferrassie is a very important site, and is treated in greater detail here.


La Ferrassie Rock Shelter

La Ferrassie Rock Shelter
La Ferrassie
La Ferrassie is on the inside of a curve in the road at approximately 44.9514N, 0.9379E.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008





La Ferrassie
Aurignacian of l'abri de La Ferrassie en Dordogne, Couches H et F

Far left: Lame, blade. This piece is unusual for its 'bent' shape, curved from end to end.

Centre left, upper and lower: Grattoir caréné, keeled scraper.

Centre right: Grattoir double, scraper on each end of the tool.

Far right, upper and lower: Burin.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Ferrassie
Aurignacian of l'abri de La Ferrassie en Dordogne, Couches H et F

Left to right:

perçoir, drill
poinçon, awl.
Biseau, wedge.
Sagaie losangique, Rhombic spearpoint, typical of the Aurignacian.
Sagaie à base fendue, spearpoint with split base.
Sagaie losangique, Rhombic spearpoint, typical of the Aurignacian.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Ferrassie
Aurignacian of l'abri de La Ferrassie en Dordogne, Couches H et F

86: Sagaie losangique, Rhombic spearpoint, typical of the Aurignacian.

87: Tube

88: objet en os, object made of bone.

89, 90, 91: Pendeloque, pendant.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Ferrassie
Aurignacian of l'abri de La Ferrassie en Dordogne, Couches H et F

Left: Tube

Right: objet en os, object made of bone.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye









La Gravette

La Gravette, the type site for the Gravettian
La Gravette, the type site for the Gravettian, is treated in greater detail here.






La Ferrassie Rock Shelter


The gisement of La Gravette
Photo: Don Hitchcock 2008





La Gravette
Aurignacien of l'abri de la Gravette à Bayac, Dordogne

Far left: Lame retouchée, retouched blade.

Centre left: Grattoir caréné, keeled scraper.

Centre right and far right: Grattoir, scraper.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye




La Gravette
Aurignacien of l'abri de la Gravette à Bayac, Dordogne

Far left: Burin.

Other three artefacts: Burin busqué, beaked burin.

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye









bear plaquette bear plaquette
Aurignacien of la grotte du Chien à Péchialet, Dordogne

Gravure figurant deux hommes attaqués par un ours, schiste.

Engraving showing two men attacked by a bear (or, more likely, attacking a bear), on schist.

The schist plaque was imported from Alassac (Corrèze). Each man is about 8 cm high. The style of the figures is close to a similar plaque from Limeuil, found in a Magdalenian layer. Length of plaque 18.5 cm. Note that although this has been assigned to the Aurignacean on the basis of other materials found with it, it more closely resembles Magdalenian artefacts from other sites. Powers (1994)

Photo: Don Hitchcock 2014
Source: Original, Musée d'Archeologie Nationale et Domaine, St-Germain-en-Laye









References

  1. Armand, D., 2006: Abri castanet (Dordogne, France): An Aurignacian site with bear procurement. Bear exploitation in paleolithic time. Scientific Annals, School of Geology Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH) Special volume 98 263-268 Thessaloniki, 2006
  2. Bahn, P.G., 2007: Cave Art: A Guide to the Decorated Ice Age Caves of Europe Published by Frances Lincoln ltd, 2007 ISBN 0711226555, 9780711226555 224 pages
  3. Castanet, R., 2006: Les Perles de Sergeac en Périgord Noir Grapho 12 Imprimeur, 12200 Villefranche-de-Rouergue, ISBN 2 9510260 1-3
  4. Delage, F., 1927: Sergeac : un beau site périgourdin, un centre de recherches préhistoriques, Imp. de la Vézère, 22 p. ill.
  5. Delage, F., 1935: Les Roches de Sergeac (Dordogne), L'Anthropologie,45, pp. 281-317, 21 fig.
  6. Delage, F., 1936: Livres et Revues Bull. S.P.F., T. XXXIII (1): 87 - 96
  7. Delluc B. & Delluc G., 1978: Les manifestations graphiques aurignaciennes sur support rocheux des environs des Eyzies (Dordogne), Gallia Préhistoire , Tome 21 fascicule 2, 1978. pp. 333-438.
  8. Delluc B. & Delluc G., 1981: Les manifestations graphiques aurignaciennes sur support rocheux des environs des Eyzies (Dordogne), Gallia Préhistoire , 21, 213–438.
  9. Didon L., 1911: L’Abri Blanchard des Roches (commune de Sergeac). Gisement aurignacien moyen, Bulletin de la Société Historique et Archéologique du Périgord, 87, 246–61 & 321–45.
  10. Didon L., 1912: Faits nouveaux constatés dans une station aurignacienne, L’Abri Blanchard des Roches prés de Sergeac, L'Anthropologie , 23, 603.
  11. Leroy-Prost, C., 1975: L'industrie osseuse aurignacienne. Essai régional de classification: Poitou, Charentes, PérigordGallia préhistoire Tome 18 fascicule 1, 1975. pp. 65-156.
  12. MacCurdy, G.G., 1931: Anthropology: Vol. 17, 1931 pp 633-637
  13. Mellars, P., 1996: The Neanderthal legacy: an archaeological perspective from western Europe Published by Princeton University Press ISBN 0691034931, 9780691034935 471 pages
  14. Mensan R., Bourrillon R., Cretin C., White R., Gardère P., Chiotti L., Sisk M., Clark A., Higham T., Tartar É., 2012: Une nouvelle découverte d’art pariétal aurignacien in situ à l’abri Castanet (Dordogne, France): contexte et datation, Paléo 23  (2012) Varia
  15. Peyrony, D., 1935: Le gisement de Castanet, Vallon de Castelmerle, commune de Sergeac (Dordogne). Aurignacien I et II.- Bull. S.P.F., T. XXXII (19): 418-443.
  16. Powers, R., 1994: The Human Form in Palaeolithic ArtModern Geology,, (Ed.), T. 19(2-4), 1-34
  17. White R., 1989: Production complexity and standardisation in early Aurignacian bead and pendant manufacture: Evolutionary implications, in The Human Revolution: Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origins of Modern Humans eds. C. Stringer & P. Mellars. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 366–90.
  18. White R., 2007: Systems of Personal Ornamentation in the Early Upper Palaeolithic: Methodological Challenges and New Observations. In, Mellars, Paul, Boyle, Katie, Bar-Yosef, Ofer and Stringer, Chris (eds.) Rethinking the Human Revolution: New Behavioural and Biological Perspectives on the Origin and Dispersal of Modern Humans. Cambridge, UK, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 287-302. (McDonald Institute Monographs).
  19. White R., Mensan R., Bourillon R., Cretin C., Higham T., Clark A., Sisk M., Tartar E., Gardere P., Goldberg P., Pelegrin J., Valladas H., Tisnerat-Laborde N., de Sanoit J., Chambellan D., Chiotti L., 2012: Context and dating of Aurignacian vulvar representations from Abri Castanet, France, PNAS May 29, 2012, vol. 109, no. 22




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