17-2019, tome 116, 4, p.657-680 - Solène Denis — Perspectives sur l’étude des productions lithiques simples au Néolithique : le cas de la culture Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain par le prisme du site de Vasseny (Aisne)

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17-2019, tome 116, 4, p.657-680 - Solène Denis — Perspectives sur l’étude des productions lithiques simples au Néolithique : le cas de la culture Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain par le prisme du site de Vasseny (Aisne)

Perspectives sur l'étude des productions lithiques simples au Néolithique

Le cas de la culture Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain par le prisme du site de Vasseny (Aisne)


Solène Denis


Résumé : Le site de Vasseny (Aisne) a livré un petit corpus lithique attribué au Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain qui se prêtait bien au développement d'une méthode d'étude fine sur les productions simples. Le statut de ces productions reste mal défini à ce jour, à la fois dans leur nature et leurs modalités de production. Ainsi, c'est le niveau de savoir-faire même des tailleurs qui reste à l'heure actuelle discuté. Pourtant, l'implication anthropologique est importante pour la restitution et l'interprétation de l'organisation des productions des supports de l'outillage Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain. En l'état actuel des données, une forte variabilité semble transparaître à travers l'étude de ces productions simples. Celles-ci, sous réserve d'une stabilisation de la méthode d'étude couplée à une multiplication des analyses, pourraient contribuer à distinguer des sous-groupes chronologiques ou identitaires en surimposition aux différentes traditions techniques repérées pour la production laminaire des populations Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain.


Mots-clés : Néolithique ancien, industrie lithique, Nord de la France, Belgique, productions simples, culture Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain.


Abstract: The site of Vasseny 'Dessus des Groins', located in the Aisne, is a small occupation dated to the end of the early Neolithic, Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture. This culture represents the final phase of the Danubian colonisation in northern France and Belgium. At least three farmsteads were discovered on the site and 1800 flints, which form a small assemblage suitable for the study of so-called simple productions. Indeed, the status of these productions remains unclear, both their nature and the modalities of their production. Estimating the level of expertise needed to produce these flints is particularly important in this context. Uncertainties reside in the existence of very small facetted pieces in the BQY/VSG assemblages, interpreted as cores or tools according to different scholars. Furthermore, the debitage can look intentionally 'neglected' due to the simple multidirectional operations or the use of successive unipolar sequences. More recently, work conducted by Miguel Biard and Caroline Riche (Inrap) has focused on the use of flint hammerstones to produce flakes. These tools leave clumsy marks that are sometimes interpreted as maladroitness. However, the authors argue that the technical knowledge of the knappers is less rudimentary than previously thought, even though the discussion is ongoing. The anthropological implication is in this case important for the restitution and the interpretation how the Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain production was organised.

Furthermore, Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain's lithic production is based on a dual organisation involving blade production on the one hand and 'simple' productions on the other. This raises the question of the status of knappers in charge of these productions. Indeed, does this duality opposing laminar productions / simple productions reflect the blade knappers autonomy regarding the production of the supports of lithic tools? This disconnection between 'complex' productions requiring high levels of skill and a certain degree of artisanal specialization and domestic simple productions seems to be a model that finds success during the Middle Neolithic.

The detailed study presented here includes the development of a method that highlights the objectives and the modalities of these productions. This method uses two main elements: morphometric analysis and diacritical sketches. The morphometric analysis of the flake tools and negatives of removal of cores and facetted pieces involves comparing the dimensions of the tools to the removal negatives, with the result of several facetted pieces being isolated as it was not possible to provide the corresponding sized flakes to the flake tools. It contributes to identify two objectives of these productions. Furthermore, many of these facetted pieces bear use marks. The more marks they have, the less likely they are able to produce flakes to the needed size. Diacritical sketches were also made of the flake tools, cores and facetted pieces. This has demonstrated that the modality of production is mainly based on successive sequences of unipolar debitage. To sum up, this study has identified two simple productions. One is a flake production and the other is a facetted tool production. These two productions can be autonomous or integrated. They use a hard hammer stone and the chaînes opératoires are simple without any predetermination.

The discussion integrates comparisons with other Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain sites where detailed studies of simple productions have been conducted. First, it must be underlined that few are available and mostly linked to the work of the Programme Collectif de Recherche 'Les caractéristiques technotypologiques et fonctionnelles du débitage d'éclat au VSG. Le cas et la place des sites hauts-normands dans le nord de la France (The techno-typological and functional characteristics of VSG knapping. The case and place of Upper Normandy sites in northern France)', led by Caroline Riche (Inrap-UMR 7055). Firstly, the comparisons suggest that the simple productions are not homogenous within the geographical area corresponding to Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture. For example, in Upper-Normandy, the facetted tool production does not exist. On the contrary, laminar flake production has not been previously identified on sites in the Paris Basin or in Belgium. For the latter, the production of 'pseudo-fries' on edge flakes identified in the west part of Belgium seems specific to this region. Therefore, the nature of these simple productions seems to be different, depending on geographical and probably environmental contexts. Moreover, the operating mode of production varies within the cultural area. If recent studies have demonstrated the predominance of a unipolar method, others show a bipolar or a multidirectional organisation. Further studies that include diacritical sketches and quantification of the main patterns would in the future lead to a better overview of this possible heterogeneity of the debitage. Similarly, several studies have demonstrated the use of flint hammerstones on Upper-Normandy sites. However, this is probably not the case on every site, as it would depend on the environment and the access to flint raw materials. Continuing experimentation would create a referential for both types of mineral percussion, flint and stone. A detailed comparison of marks, including quantitative data on the frequency of the different discriminant characters, would allow a re-examination of the different archaeological series to shed light on this question and that, which underlies the level of expertise of the knappers. The study of these simple productions would benefit from a uniform method with multiple analyses in order to distinguish chronological or identity subgroups superimposed on the different technical traditions observed for the laminar production of the Blicquy/Villeneuve-Saint-Germain populations.


Keywords: Early Neolithic, lithic industry, northern France and Belgium, simple productions, Blicquy/Villeneuve- Saint-Germain culture.