10-2023, tome 120, 3, p.385-418 - Karlin C., Julien M., Hardy M. (2023) – Les Magdaléniennes du campement du niveau IV20 de Pincevent (Seine-et-Marne) : leur place dans la vie collective

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10-2023, tome 120, 3, p.385-418 - Karlin C., Julien M., Hardy M. (2023) – Les Magdaléniennes du campement du niveau IV20 de Pincevent (Seine-et-Marne) : leur place dans la vie collective

Les Magdaléniennes du campement du niveau IV20 de Pincevent (Seine-et-Marne)

Leur place dans la vie collective


Claudine Karlin, Michèle Julien, Maurice Hardy



Résumé :

Dans une société préhistorique, il est tout aussi difficile de trouver des preuves évidentes de l'activité des hommes que de celle des femmes. Pourtant, pour les premiers, des attributions sont admises sans discussion, alors que, pour les secondes, toute hypothèse soulève toujours controverse. Aujourd'hui, dans un contexte où les études de genre se développent, les femmes reprennent pourtant peu à peu leur place dans notre préhistoire. Dans les sites d'habitat cependant, la recherche d'une différenciation des tâches et d'une organisation sexuée de l'espace à partir de l'organi­sation des vestiges a rarement été tentée.

C'est là que nous cherchons à les trouver à partir des données du campement magdalénien IV20 de Pincevent (Seine-et-Marne). Et, sans aller chercher nos exemples dans les tribus de chasseurs-cueilleurs du monde entier, nous nous sommes référés aux modes de vie des nomades du Grand Nord, chasseurs ou éleveurs de rennes, notamment de Sibérie, où l'une de nous a effectué plusieurs missions d'étude. Notre souhait est que nos hypothèses sur l'organisation sociale de ces Magdaléniens apparaissent comme plausibles.

Le campement de Pincevent (Seine-et-Marne) a été mis en place par des Magdaléniens venus chasser le renne au moment de la migration d'automne du troupeau sauvage. La présence d'enfants ayant été reconnue à travers la mise en évidence de l'apprentissage de la taille, nous en avons induit celle des femmes. Dans un rassemblement entièrement dédié à un abattage en masse quel était le rôle et la place des femmes ?

Dans les activités liées à ce campement d'automne, nous envisageons une répartition des tâches qui attribue aux femmes un rôle dans le rabattage des animaux au cours des opérations de chasse, et surtout le traitement des matières carnées pour une consommation quotidienne ou la production de réserves pour l'hiver, et le travail des peaux, depuis leur premier séchage jusqu'à divers travaux de couture. Elles devaient aussi être capables de se fabriquer quelques outils domestiques de silex et d'os. Les matières traitées ayant disparu, ce sont les outils qui nous permettent de tenter de localiser des lieux d'activités féminines. Puis, à travers une lecture de la répartition au sol des vestiges et des activités identifiées dans chaque habitation, nous proposons de voir un espace masculin opposé à un espace féminin de part et d'autre du foyer domestique. Nous montrons que la structuration générale du campement s'appuie sur ces espaces mas­culins, suggérant une suprématie des hommes dans l'organisation de la société, sous le contrôle, dans ce campement, d'un maître de chasse.


Mots-clés : Pincevent, campement magdalénien, structuration genrée de l'espace, espace féminin/espace masculin, activité féminine/activité masculine, outillage féminin/équipement et outillage masculin.



In a prehistoric society, it is just as difficult to find clear evidence of male activity as it is of female activity. However, for the former, attributions are admitted without discussion, whereas, for the latter, any hypothesis always raises controversy. Today, in a context where gender studies are developing, women are nevertheless gradually resum­ing their place in our prehistory. Yet, in settlement sites, the search for a differentiation of tasks and a gendered organ­ization of space based on the distribution of remains has rarely been attempted.

This is what we wanted to do using the data of the IV20 Magdalenian camp at Pincevent (Seine-et-Marne), excavated on over 5,000 m2. And, without looking for examples in the tribes of hunter-gatherers around the world, we referred to the lifestyles of the nomads of the Far North, hunters or herders of reindeer, particularly in Siberia, where one of us carried out several study expeditions. Our wish is that our hypotheses on the social organization of these Magdalenians appear plausible.This camp was occupied during several weeks in the autumn, 13,000 years ago by Magdalenian hunters during the migration of reindeers towards their winter territories. The distribution of the remains shows varying densities concentrations.

The four most significant have been interpreted as dwellings, while in the periphery numerous less dense concentrations have been considered as more or less occasional workshops. The purpose of this study is to identify the place of women in their daily life.

In the 1980s, an analysis of the skills implemented in flint knapping made it possible to document the existence of varying levels of know-how. Among the productive knappers who supplied the group with flint tools, we distinguished experienced knappers capable of carrying out the project they had designed and competent knappers who did not always know how to master the vagaries of the raw material but nevertheless participated in the production of domestic tools. Non-productive knappers with a low level of know-how were also identified: in our view, they are young Magdalenians in training. The presence of children thus recognized by the learning of knapping leads us to conclude that women were present. As a result, we have sought to recognize the role of these women according to the nature of the toolkit and the productions, and with the help of ethnographic surveys among nomadic populations of reindeer herders-hunters in Siberia. All activities contribute to the smooth running of collective life and allow the group to live together. Our interest is to imagine, from our data, who was doing what. Starting from the principle that any society is built on a sharing of tasks, we ask ourselves what part fell to women. A reindeer slaughter camp during the autumn passage of the wild herd, we wonder about their role in the hunt, knowing that we make ours the postulate of an exclusion of bloods, which kept them away from the actual slaughter. We believe, however, that they could participate in the great hunts by driving the game towards the hunters. But it was also possible for them to hunt according to their own rules: young reindeer juveniles of the year probably caught by hand and trapped hares. The large quantity of game

slaughtered at this camp supposes an organized chain of animal material processing. Reindeer antlers seem to have been assigned to male activities. Bones may have provided tools for both men and women. We propose that the processing of the rest -meat material, tendons and hides- was essentially a concern of female activities, because they were linked

to the domestic world. In this moment of abundance of burdens for women, it is possible that men have collaborated, for example, in operations related to the treatment of bones.

In our view, the experienced knappers are the men making their own weapons, in particular because they produce the backed bladelets that will arm the spear shafts. As it is difficult to imagine a total dependence of women to obtain the flint tools they needed, we assume that simply competent knappers could be of either sex. In addition, a large number of unprocessed but used pebbles were identified at the camp. If some of these tools on pebbles could have been used by men, the majority would correspond to specifically female toolkits involved in various domestic work around edible matters or in the treatment of hides. The mass of materials to be processed would explain the abundance of these tools.

Because it structures society, this distribution of tasks is coupled with a gendered organization of space that assigns everyone a specific place, both within the dwelling and in the layout of the camp. By observing the organization of the remains in the dwellings, we propose that the living space was structured into two parts in relation to the domestic hearth. This partition would reflect the status of each and everyone in the social organization of the unit. Considering

the hearth as the center of the domestic unit, it seems to us that it is really determined by the location of the permanent knapping workstation. This is truly the most striking element of the male area. Facing it, on the other side of the hearth, the female area is linked to its setting up and to the maintenance of the fire. This area is marked by small workstations dedicated to the working of animal materials and, in particular, to boning, cutting up muscles and extracting marrow.

Our hypothesis is that these two spaces, male and female, were protected by easily movable hide carpets, which is suggested by emptier areas lined with accumulations of remains.

It also appears that a significant proportion of male activities took place in the peripheral workshops. Only two workshops can be attributed with some certainty to specifically female activities: both seem to have been places for hide working, one at a distance from the dwellings, no doubt to dry them and, without doubt, to carry out the first steps of the cleaning, the other to treat them in a posterior technical stage. There are a large number of used pebbles and, in the sediment of the small associated hearth, the concentrated remains of reindeer fat.

The organization of the dwelling cannot be dissociated from that of the camp. The alignment of the settlements in Pincevent was a function of the topography of the place, but also of rules specific to the group. These must have determined the setting up of each dwelling, in relation to each other, according to the social status of the occupants. Finally,

the orientation of each dwelling could obeyed climate or cosmogonic considerations, but also very clearly social constraints. It is the axis of the male workstations located near the domestic hearths that seems to structure the organization of the camp and that of this small group of hunters. Indeed, one can think that the "hunting master", whose dwelling was oriented in the opposite direction to the others, chose his place first to have an overview of the camp. His setting up, the easternmost, west-facing, allowed him to see the different social units of his group, which were facing east. All of these rules therefore determined, for women, the setting up of the hearth and the location of each dwelling, as well as the location of female working areas in relation to those of men.

At the end of this study, it appears that Magdalenian society, during this period of hunting, was governed by male power. We cannot say what it was like in other places, during other seasons.


Keywords: Pincevent, Magdalenian camp, gendered spatial structuration, female space/male space, female activity/ male activity, female toolkit/male equipment and toolkit.