10-2021, tome 118, 3, p. 427-451 - G. Ricci, G. Porraz, A. Tomasso — Les systèmes techniques lithiques à la Baume  de Monthiver (vallée du Jabron, Var) dans le contexte du Premier Mésolithique des Préalpes méridionales

Cliquez sur la photo pour zoomer

Quantité :

Prix : 15,00 €TTC

10-2021, tome 118, 3, p. 427-451 - G. Ricci, G. Porraz, A. Tomasso — Les systèmes techniques lithiques à la Baume de Monthiver (vallée du Jabron, Var) dans le contexte du Premier Mésolithique des Préalpes méridionales

Les systèmes techniques lithiques à la Baume de Monthiver (vallée du Jabron, Var) dans le contexte du Premier Mésolithique des Préalpes méridionales


Giulia Ricci, Guillaume Porraz, Antonin Tomasso


Résumé :

Le début de l'Holocène consacre l'émergence des sociétés mésolithiques en Europe. Cette période est marquée par une polymorphie des expressions techniques et de nombreuses questions persistent quant à la nature des scénarios régionaux et des processus historiques sous-jacents. Dans cet article, nous concentrons notre attention sur les dernières occupations humaines à la Baume de Monthiver, petit abri des Préalpes du Sud françaises localisé sur les reliefs jurassiques de la vallée du Jabron (Var, France). Ces occupations, datées du 9e millénaire cal. BP, montrent des comportements d'acquisition des roches en faveur des disponibilités immédiates, exploitées dans le cadre de débitages de structure additionnelle (courtes séquences d'enlèvements par surfaces adjacentes) et intégrée (de type pyramidal) orientés vers l'obtention d'éclats et d'éléments lamellaires et lamino-lamellaires. Les résultats de l'étude permettent de rapprocher cet assemblage lithique des traditions techniques du Sauveterrien. Toutefois l'assemblage lithique interpelle par la pauvreté de son corpus typologique et par l'absence d'armatures géométriques, renvoyant plus généralement à la question des variabilités fonctionnelles et régionales au cours de cette période. L'article engage une synthèse de nos connaissances actuelles sur le premier Mésolithique dans l'arc liguro-provençal et positionne la Baume de Monthiver dans les questions qui animent aujourd'hui l'étude du Mésolithique d'Europe de l'Ouest.


Mots-clés : Holocène, Mésolithique ancien, Sauveterrien, traditions techniques, province méditerranéenne.



Mesolithic heralds a period characterised by miniaturized technologies, but the nature and significance of this chronocultural phase still requires clarification. Research questions arise in particular with regard to the underlying ecological and historical driving forces at the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene. In this paper, we focus on the Mesolithic occupations of La Baume de Monthiver.

La Baume de Monthiver is a small rock shelter located in the middle Jabron valley in the Southern French Pre-Alps (Var, France ??? fig. 1). The site opens to the east along the Jurassic cliff of Monthiver at an altitude of about 900 m asl., a few hundred metres above the Palaeolithic site of Les Prés de Laure.

A first excavation was carried out at La Baume de Monthiver in 2017 with the aim of assessing the archaeological potential of the deposits (Porraz et al., 2018). The excavation strategy took into account the existence of a clandestine trench. Two excavation areas were opened: the first area consisted of a vertical exploration of the deposits on 1 m² until bedrock (test-pit 12), the second area (sector G-F) comprised of a horizontal exploration of the uppermost deposits on a surface of ca. 2.5 m² (fig. 2).

A stratigraphic sequence of about 90 cm was exposed, subdivided into 23 stratigraphic units (SUs) and grouped into seven sedimentary phases. Two main archaeological phases separated by a sterile horizon have been recognized. The lower phase documents ephemeral occupations from the Upper Palaeolithic, with radiocarbon dating to the 14th millennium cal. BP. The upper phase is much richer in terms of the archaeological record and documents technological traditions that refer to the Mesolithic. Here, we focus on the upper phase M-B' (fig. 2).

For the phase M-B', four radiocarbon dates are available, positioning the SU M-B???3 within the 9th millennium cal. BP (fig. 3; tab. 1). At a regional scale, namely within the liguro-provencal arc, the first Mesolithic is represented by the Sauveterrian, a technological tradition that finds its earliest expressions during the 12th millennium cal. BP at the site of Romagnano Loc III in Italy (Fontana et al., 2016) and lasts until the 8th millennium cal. BP at the site of La Grande Rivoire in the Northern French Pre-Alps (Angelin et al., 2016). The Sauveterrian features a lithic technology based on the selection of local raw materials, the production of small blanks with various morphologies, the manufacture of backed points and of geometric microliths.

Within the phase M-B??? of La Baume de Monthiver, more than 4 000 lithic elements have been recorded (tab. 2). All of them are made on flint. The blanks show a high degree of alteration (white patina, burning, etc.), which constrained the petrographic study. However, all pieces allowing an assignment to a geological formation (ca. 45% of the sample) demonstrate a strictly local procurement. Most of the raw materials, from Tertiary and Turonian formations, were collected in the Jabron alluvial deposits, while Valanginian flints were available in the neighbouring primary formations (tab. 3).

Local rocks were exploited following two chaînes opératoires (fig. 9). One concerned a unidirectional exploitation of a pyramidal shaped core (type E2; see Boëda, 2013). The other consisted of a series of unidirectional removals alternating from orthogonal surfaces of exploitation (type D2; ibidem). Both chaînes opératoires were oriented towards the production of small blanks, including blades, bladelets and elongated flakes. The various stigmata suggest the application of free hand knapping with a hammerstone alternating from an internal to a more marginal percussion.

The formal tools are not numerous and were only manufactured on bladelets. This corpus is only composed of microlithic backed tools (fig. 4, nos 27-33) with a single or double back (tab. 5); all of them are broken.

The results of the study conform to what is known as being characteristic of the Sauveterrian techno-complex. The lithic assemblage of the phase M-B??? of La Baume de Monthiver documents technical behaviours that adapted to local raw material availabilities. The reduction strategies demonstrate a low investment in terms of preparation and management of the convexities. The knappers intended to produce a set of small blades, bladelets and flakes with various morphologies, within a dimensional threshold that never exceeded 60 mm (fig. 5).

While the lithic assemblage of La Baume de Monthiver shows many similarities with the Sauveterrian, it differs with regard to its typological corpus. The sample of La Baume de Monthiver is characterised by a low number of formal tools, a low typological diversity and the absence of geometrics. A literature review highlights indeed quite an important typological variability at that time, which raises questions about the functional and/or regional variability that occurred during the first phase of the Mesolithic in Western Europe.

As documented at other Sauveterrian sites, the lithic assemblage of La Baume de Monthiver illustrates a procurement strategy based on immediate availabilities, suggesting a mobility system based on frequent displacements. Other proxies found at La Baume de Monthiver, such as Mediterranean seashells (Columbella rustica) used as ornaments, indicate a much wider socio-economic network. Based on the present set of data, we are prone to interpret the lithic assemblage of La Baume de Monthiver as a techno-economic expression of small groups who favoured short-term occupations within the framework of exploration and exploitation of the resources from the Southern Pre-Alps. Further examination of the lower Mesolithic occupations of La Baume de Monthiver as well as of the sedimentary archives of the Jabron valley will contribute to a new narrative of the cultural and paleo-environmental transformations that hunter-gatherers groups experienced at the onset of the Holocene in the South-East of France.


Keywords: Holocene, Early Mesolithic, Sauveterrian, technological traditions, Mediterranean province.