Figure 7.20 Location of the bison-butchery site of Mauran (Haute-Garonne), showing its relationship to the Garonne river, and the adjacent steep slope immediately to the south. After Farizy & Leclerq 1981.
500 600 m remains in relation to associated lithic artefacts; and the character of the lithic industries recovered from the sites is similar, with a dominance of notched and denticulated tools, and variable amounts of more heavy-duty choppers or pebble-tool forms (Figs 7.28-7.31). The most enigmatic aspect of the sites hinges on their chronology. As discussed further below, the sites could span various points of the Middle Palaeolithic sequence from the penultimate glaciation to the final stages of the Mousterian. Before turning to the detailed character of the faunal assemblages recovered from the sites, it may be useful to sketch in the locations and archaeological associations in more detail.
The site of Mauran lies almost 200 km to the south of the Perigord region, adjacent to the left bank of the Garonne river in the northernmost foothills of the Pyrenees. Excavations carried out by Catherine Farizy between 1974 and 1981 revealed an enormous concentration of bison remains (cf. Bison pris-cus: see Fig. 7.21) contained in a deposit approximately 30-40 cm thick which extends over a total area of at least 800-1000 square metres (Girard et al. 1975; Girard & David 1982; Farizy & Leclerc 1981; Farizy & David
1992; Farizy et al. 1994). The location is particularly interesting (Fig. 7.20). The site stands on the edge of a level escarpment or terrace which dominates the adjacent valley of the Garonne (at an absolute altitude of ca 270 metres) and commands sweeping views to the north, west and south. The flat, terracelike feature contains a major depression which probably contained a small lake or pond at the time of the human occupation. The lithic industry from the site is much less abundant than the faunal assemblage but consists predominantly of simple notched and denticulated forms, together with a few typical racloirs, accompanied by much larger pebble or chopper tools, manufactured predominantly from local pebbles of quartzite derived from the adjacent gravels of the Garonne (Figs 7.28, 7.30) (Farizy et al. 1994). The age of the site remains controversial: while geological indications suggest a date during the earlier phases of the last glaciation (probably during isotope stage 5) recently secured ESR dates obtained directly on samples of bison teeth from the site point to an age of around 35-45,000 BP (Grün et al. 1994).
The site of La Borde lies much closer to the Perigord region, approximately 15 km to
the north of the Lot valley and only 40 km to the south of the Dordogne (Jaubert et al. 1990). The site appears to be a typical aven or collapsed cavern feature situated on a high (ca 320 metres) plateau with no immediately adjacent rivers or other major valley features. The closest water course is that of the Cele stream, 3 km to the south (Fig. 7.22). The excavations on the site were restricted to a small area and were carried out essentially as a salvage operation following the destruction of the major part of the site by building operations in 1971. By systematically sieving large quantities of the disturbed deposits, however, it was possible to recover a rich assemblage of both fauna and lithic artefacts, all apparently derived from a single strati-graphic level ca 55 cm thick at a depth of approximately 2.5 metres below the original surface of the karstic depression (Fig. 7.23). The area of the deposits is impossible to estimate precisely but is likely to have been at least 100 square metres. The faunal assemblage in this case consists almost entirely of aurochs remains, which account for ca 93 percent of the total faunal material (Slott-Moller 1990; Jaubert & Brugal 1990). The associated lithic assemblage is manufactured overwhelmingly from local quartz pebbles with a small component of imported flint and
consists of the same range of forms as those documented at Mauran - i.e. a clear predominance of notched and denticulated tools, combined with large numbers of heavily flaked pebble and chopping tools (Jaubert 1990; Jaubert & Turq 1990) (Figs 7.29, 7.31). The age of the site is again controversial but on climatological grounds is thought to coincide with either the earliest stages of the last glaciation (isotope stage 5a or 5c?) or perhaps some point during the preceding interglacial (Laville 1990). All the geological indications suggest that the site dates from a temperate period - as indeed does the character of the fauna.
The site of Coudoulous (near Tour de Faure, Lot) parallels in most respects La Borde (Jaubert 1984; Jaubert & Turq 1990). The site again appears to be a collapsed cavern located only 15 km to the southwest of La Borde, close to the confluence between the valleys of the Cele and the Lot. It occupies the upper part of a steep limestone escarpment and commands wide-ranging views over the adjacent valleys. The major contrast with La Borde is that the overwhelmingly dominant faunal species (as at Mauran) is bison rather than aurochs - which accounts for over 95
percent of the total faunal remains (Jaubert & Brugal 1990). According to Jaubert (1984; Jaubert & Turq 1990) the composition of the associated artefacts is almost identical to that of La Borde and Mauran: the industry is manufactured once again overwhelmingly from local quartz pebbles and is made up from the same combination of crudely worked notches, denticulates and heavy-duty chopping tools as that at Mauran and La Borde. The age of the site remains unknown but has been attributed by Bonifay (on the basis of rather tenuous geological evidence) to one of the later interstadial episodes of the penultimate glaciation.
The final site of Le Roc is the only site which lies within the Perigord region. This is a fully open-air location situated on a small terrace along the southern flank of the Euche valley (see Fig. 5.13) approximately 4 km above its confluence with the Dronne (Gen-este 1985: 94-8, 385-92). Few details of the site have as yet been published and the material was collected mainly in the form of surface exposures supplemented by a few small test trenches. The salient feature, once again, is that virtually all the recovered faunal material consists of large bovid remains, though their precise taxonomic identification (as Bison or Bos) remains to be established. The data assembled by Geneste shows that these remains were distributed over a relatively large area (at least 400 square metres) and were associated with flint artefacts consisting almost entirely of notched and denticulated forms - though in this case apparently without more heavy-duty chopper or pebble tools. The age of the site is at present unknown.
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