06-2018, tome 115, 1, p. 125-147 - Maxime Remicourt, Sylvie Saintot et Pierre-Jérôme Rey - Les armatures à encoches latérales  et à encoches basilaires à la fin du Néolithique, des Alpes à la façade atlantique

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06-2018, tome 115, 1, p. 125-147 - Maxime Remicourt, Sylvie Saintot et Pierre-Jérôme Rey - Les armatures à encoches latérales et à encoches basilaires à la fin du Néolithique, des Alpes à la façade atlantique

À la fin du IVe millénaire avant notre ère, les armatures à encoches latérales ou à encoches basilaires sont une nouvelle composante des assemblages lithiques. Leur nombre s’accroît jusqu’à atteindre un maximum au cours de la première moitié du IIIe millénaire. Ces artefacts s’inscrivent dans un phénomène global de multiplication des morpho-types d’armatures de flèche à la fin du Néolithique dans le Sud de la France et sur ses marges septentrionales. Les armatures à encoches latérales ou à encoches basilaires ont un temps été considérées comme spécifiques du Néolithique final des bassins du Rhône et de la Saône ; conception aujourd’hui révolue car la carte de répartition actualisée montre que leur extension ne se limite pas à cette entité géographique. Leur large diffusion englobe en effet le Sud de la Bourgogne, le Jura méridional, la Suisse occidentale, la Savoie et le Dauphiné. Mais, elles sont bien représentées également en Drôme, en Ardèche et en Charente-Maritime, contrairement à la Provence, au Languedoc oriental et aux Grands Causses où leur diffusion est moindre, et en Italie du Nord, où leur présence semble, pour l’heure, anecdotique. Les plus anciens cas bien datés apparaissent de manière quasi-synchrone en Charente et dans le Jura méridional. Plusieurs modèles d’armatures à encoches se retrouvent de part et d’autre de cette vaste sphère géographique, certains sous-types se cantonnant à des territoires plus restreints. Un modèle particulier, l’armature à encoches basilaires, spécifique à la Charente, se retrouve également en Languedoc, en Provence et dans le Jura, ce qui vient appuyer l’hypothèse de contacts entre ces zones. Contacts qui sont d’ailleurs documentés par d’autres éléments de la culture matérielle. L’éventuel sens préférentiel de ces influences ne peut être encore précisé sur la base des documents archéologiques. Toutefois, la relation que l’on peut proposer avec l’évolution des dispositifs d’emmanchement des poignards en silex pourrait suggérer une influence conceptuelle originaire d’Italie centro-septentrionale. Enfin, le contexte de découverte des armatures à encoches latérales présente des spécificités géographiques. Dans certaines régions, elles paraissent plutôt en lien avec le domaine des vivants alors que, dans d’autres zones, elles semblent réservées aux dotations funéraires.

 

Mots-clefs : armatures de flèche à encoches latérales, Néolithique final, types et sous-types, diffusion, contact.

 

Late Neolithic notched arrowheads (lateral and basal notches), from the Alps to the Atlantic coast              

 

Notched arrowheads have long been considered as one of the leading fossils of the Late Neolithic in France and Western Switzerland, in the Jura, the Western Alps and the Saône valley. However, the distribution maps of these artefacts prove that they are not limited to this geographical area. An inventory based on both our work and more extensive bibliographic research enabled us to identify 236 points on 142 deposits, and we propose a revision of knowledge concerning this particular artefact. The distribution of notched arrowheads encompasses southern Burgundy, southern Jura, western Switzerland, Savoie and Dauphiné, but also the Drôme, Ardèche and Charente-Maritime. In Provence, in eastern Languedoc and in the Grands Causses their distribution is more limited and in northern Italy their presence is anecdotal.

For the southern zone, the arrowheads discovered in Ardèche, Languedoc, Provence and in the middle Rhone valley in reliable contexts correspond to the interval 2900–2600 BCE. In the Jura and Alpine regions, the oldest lateral notched points are represented in the Clairvaux group from the 31st century, between 3050 and 2950 BCE. However, most of the Jura and Western Switzerland models belong either to the recent Lüscherz or to the recent Clairvaux, between 2900 and 2700 BCE, or to the early phases of the Auvernier-Cordé or to those of the later Chalain group. Lastly, between the Charente and the Gironde estuary, there is a concentration of points with basal notches, which appeared in 3100 BCE in Artenac I contexts for the oldest specimens.

Although many examples are of siliceous raw material of undetermined or indeterminable origin, the few points analysed are often shaped from regional or local raw materials. Therefore, while some of these are imported in the form of finished products, many are produced locally. Several types of notched arrowheads constitute the series. The notched arrowheads are basically round (type 1), or crushed, straight or convex base models, sometimes with spurs or lugs (type 2). Other types are lozenge-shaped (type 3) or lanceolate (type 4) with more or less median notches. Finally, some foliate models with a rounded or acute base are also represented within the lithic assemblages (type 5). Some types seem to be common in the various geographical areas (type 1a), while others have their distribution restricted to small territories (type 2c, for example). According to the general shape of these different models, no morphotype seems directly associated with the presence of notches.

In general, lozenge-shaped and straight sections dominate. From a chronological point of view, it is difficult to observe a precise succession between the different models. The basal groove points (type 1a) appear in both the Ferrieres and Clairvaux series, but also in the Artenac I series. This type is the most frequent and is also the one most widespread geographically. Subsequently, in the first half of the 3rd millennium BC, arrowheads with lateral notches and basal notches varied in shape (lanceolate, ogival, foliaceous or lozenge-shaped), in their notches (deep or not very marked), or in their base (straight, rounded, squared or escutcheon). Similarly, there are certain peculiarities in the geographical distribution of types. The Artenacian complex shows a clear dominance of type 1a, while the Languedoc and Provençal sectors, found in Ardèche and Drôme, are distinguished by a good representation of types 5b and 1a, and are also the only ones to deliver type 2c. Western Switzerland and the Dauphiné / Savoie sector show a dominance of type 5a and more or less similar rates for seven other types. The Southern Jura shows a good representation of type 3a with respect to types 5a, 1a, and even 3c, the latter three being however represented among the Jura models. In the Saône-Rhône group, type 3 is dominant, but types 1b, 2a and 5a are also present. The distribution of these elements is therefore restricted to well-defined geographical areas, which reinforces the impression that it is a specific artefact for certain groups.

Morphometrically, the points also exhibit great variability. However, the length / width ratio is generally 2:1, while the criterion of thickness is more random. Unlike the shaping of certain late Neolithic points, no intention of producing a stereotyped form can be clearly established for the manufacture of the notched arrowheads.

Observation of the measurements of the pieces according to the geographical sectors shows, despite the general variability, that the largest pieces inventoried are generally in the south. Overall, their measurements are compatible with efficient use. Most individuals are present in domestic contexts, with 74 deposits for 157 pieces, and 42 individuals delivered in 33 funerary sites. For the eastern specimens, there appears to be a north-south gradient in the status of these pieces, which could be explained in the South of France by a secondary use of these points in deposits and funeral endowments - gestures or intentions rarely or never documented among the elements of the Segonian, Jurassian and circum-Alpine domains. This phenomenon is, moreover, a constant which applies to all the Late Neolithic arrowheads on these territories.

The question of the geographical origin of these elements remains complex because the oldest well-dated cases appear almost synchronously in the Charente and in the southern Jura, which supports the hypothesis of contacts between these zones. Contacts are documented by other categories of material culture. The possible preferential direction of these influences cannot yet be specified on the basis of archaeological documents. However, the relationship that can be proposed with the evolution of flint daggers could suggest a conceptual influence originating in central and northern Italy.

Their development takes place in a chrono-cultural sequence which sees the multiplication of types of arrowheads in both the south of France and in the Alpine and Jurassian domains. This multiplication constitutes a specificity of the late Neolithic period in southern France and in western Switzerland. This general phenomenon, which enables the coexistence of up to a dozen morphotypes to be observed, is commonly interpreted as an exacerbation of social competition in a society in full hierarchical mutation, or even as an affirmation of values relating to identity in a warlike context.

 

Keywords: notched arrowheads, Late Neolithic, types and subtypes, distribution, contact.