16-2018- 115, 3, p. 531-565 - Bénédicte SOUFFI, Colas GUERET, Charlotte LEDUC –  Nouvelles données chronoculturelles et palethnographiques sur le Mésolithique des 8e et 6e millénaires avant notre ère dans le nord de la France : le site de Remilly-les-Poth

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16-2018- 115, 3, p. 531-565 - Bénédicte SOUFFI, Colas GUERET, Charlotte LEDUC – Nouvelles données chronoculturelles et palethnographiques sur le Mésolithique des 8e et 6e millénaires avant notre ère dans le nord de la France : le site de Remilly-les-Poth

La fouille du site de Remilly-les-Pothées (Ardennes, France), a permis la découverte de plusieurs occupations mésolithiques postérieures à 7500 avant notre ère au bas d’un versant peu abrupt, en rive droite de l’Audry. Les décapages successifs réalisés ont mis au jour deux niveaux d’occupations attribuables à la fin de la phase moyenne du Mésolithique (groupes du RMS-A) et au Mésolithique final. Au total, six locus et plusieurs structures ont été identifiés. Le niveau d’occupation le plus récent se caractérise par une vaste concentration occupant une superficie d’environ 100 m². Deux amas et une vidange de foyer sont également associés. Parallèlement, des zones d’activités impliquant de nombreux ossements, des lames brutes et des outils divers ont été identifiées en dehors. L’outillage comme les datations permettent de rapporter cette occupation au Mésolithique final, entre 5600 et 5300 avant notre ère. Parallèlement, le second niveau d’occupation daté de la fin du Mésolithique moyen, aux environs de 7300-7000 avant notre ère, se matérialise par quatre locus peu étendus, trois amas, trois foyers et quatre zones de vidanges. Trois locus semblent dédiés à la fabrication d’armatures caractéristiques de cette période (armatures à retouche couvrante et lamelles à dos) et attribuées aux groupes du RMS-A bien connus en Belgique et au Luxembourg. Ce niveau, au sein duquel les ossements de sanglier dominent, se caractérise également par la découverte exceptionnelle d’une pointe en os décorée.


Mots-clés : RMS-A, Mésolithique final, Ardennes, amas, vidanges de foyer, retouche couvrante, percussion indirecte, analyse tracéologique, archéozoologie.


Due to the construction of the A304 motorway at Remilly-les-Pothées, “la Culotte” (Ardennes, France), the rescue excavation allowed the discovery of several mesolithic occupations at the foot of a gently slope.

These occupations belong to middle Mesolithic (RMS-A, level II) and final Mesolithic (level I) which are two periods rarely excavated and dated in the north of France. Extensive stripping revealed an area of about one hectare, within which the stratigraphy is more dilated and well-preserved. Mesolithic occupations were covered by slope deposits and in some sectors two levels are layered. The two Mesolithic levels identified allowed the discovery of six locus and several structures (5 clusters, 3 hearts and 6 hearth empying). Thanks to the presence of burned bones, charcoal in structures (mainly hazel) and burnt hazelnut shells, fourteen dating were obtained for the two Mesolithic levels. On both levels, many macrolithic tools, mainly oblong shale pebbles, have been discovered on locus periphery. Some carry percussion use-wear. Jean-Georges Rozoy works during a long time (1970 to 1990) on the Mesolithic in French Ardennes and defined a cultural group « l’Ardennien » (Rozoy, 1978) re-discussed today. At Remilly, the final mesolithic level is caracterized by a large concentration of 3300 lithic and bone artefacts scattered on 100 m² (locus 2), a smaller concentration (locus 5), two clusters and one hearth emptying. 14 radiocarbon dates allow to assign this occupation to the end of the 6th millennium, between 5630 and 5326 BC cal (6650 ± 30 BP à 6410 ± 30 BP). Lithic artefacts are mainly waste related to the production of lamino-lamellar supports for the shaping of tools and microliths. Microlits are very few and essentially on locus 2. Large asymmetric trapezes and triangular points with flat inverse retouching (“flèches de Belloy” : Fagnart 1991) dominate. Tools are better represented on locus 2 and characterized by sporadic laterally notched blades. The two clusters (structures 11528 and 11529), around 4 to 7 m², are specific and mainly constituted of cortical or semi-cortical flakes. No hearth has been identified but one hearth emptying was discovered near structure 11528, outside locus. This corresponds to a more or less elongated discharge area, composed of burnt bones, burned or unburnt stones and flint artefacts. One large triangular point, unburnt, was discover inside, confirming its attribution to final Mesolithic. No refitting could be carried out between the various structures and locus. Along with this structures or locus, several isolated bones (especially aurochs) or flint artefacts were discovered and could delimit peripheral and specific areas. Different activities were performed on the site, especially animal resource procurement and treatment. Animal bones were preserved but often in poor state of preservation. Deer (Cervus elaphus) is the best represented species, particularly in locus 2 and 5, followed by wild boar (Sus scrofa). Aurochs is well-documented in locus 5 and isolated remains. On locus 2, several burnt bones suggest on-site consumption. Butchery and animal hard material working are attested. Therefore, several remains appear to result of bovinae metapodial exploitation. Plant working is attested by some laterally notched blades. No fish remains demonstrate exploitation of aquatic resources despite the proximity of the Audry river (less than 300 m).

In the north of France, only two well preserved sites are dated to final Mesolithic (de Castel « Camping du Hameau » (Castel « Camping du Hameau » and Lhéry « la Presle »). Same microliths are presents but radiocarbon dates are more recent (Ducrocq, 2001 and 2009 ; Bostyn and Séara, 2011).

Some sites are also similar in south Belgium. The oldest Mesolithic occupation (7300-7000 cal. BC) is caracterized by four small locus, three clusters, three hearths and four heaths emptying. Three locus are dedicated to lamellar production and microliths manufacturing. Microliths are dominated by invasively retouched armatures (“feuille de gui”) and narrow backed bladelets. In fact, most of invasively retouched armatures are drafts, but wear analysis confirms their projectile function. Lamellar production correspond mainly to invasively retouched armatures blanks. Faunal remains are dominated by wild boar and one decorated bone point was identified. Wear analysis reveals a functional difference between two locus. Locus 3 is dedicated to animal hard material with burins and borers, and butchery with unretouched flakes. Locus 8 is characterized by several scrappers used for hide working. Tools used for plant working are very few. Well-dated sites of this period are rare in the north of France. Only few sites are similar and located especially in Picardie (Beaurainville, Hangest: Ducrocq, 2001 et 2014; Saleux: Fagnart et al., 2008). Thus, Mesolithic discoveries of Remilly are part of current issues, chronocultural, functional or societal. The multiplication of such well-preserved and dated discoveries should allow us to better understand this particular period that characterizes the end of the Mesolithic period, after 7500 BC.


Keywords: RMS-A, final Mésolithic, Ardennes, clusters, hearth emptying, invasively retouched armatures, indirect percussion, Use-wear analysis, archeozoology.