Interstadial Arcy

Mousterian

1 Denticulate

■ :; >• i P¿ • p. - y. -.-.'¿o' ■. y.; ■. •. :■• ;f>.'0.??.;-¿\ H

Figure 2.28 Stratigraphic and archaeological sequence recorded in the lower shelter at Le Moustier, showing the results of TL dating of burnt flint samples carried out by Valladas et al. (1986) and ESR dating of animal teeth by Mellars & Grün (1991). Note that the ESR dates are calculated according to two different models of uranium uptake in the teeth (the 'early-uptake' and 'linear-uptake' models), which yield slightly different results; on both models the ESR dates suggest a slightly younger age for layer G (43-47,000 BP) than that suggested by the TL dating (50-55,000 BP). After Mellars & Grün 1991 (see also Fig. 6.19).

TL Dates (x 1000)

ESR Dates (x 1000) EU LU

Figure 2.28 Stratigraphic and archaeological sequence recorded in the lower shelter at Le Moustier, showing the results of TL dating of burnt flint samples carried out by Valladas et al. (1986) and ESR dating of animal teeth by Mellars & Grün (1991). Note that the ESR dates are calculated according to two different models of uranium uptake in the teeth (the 'early-uptake' and 'linear-uptake' models), which yield slightly different results; on both models the ESR dates suggest a slightly younger age for layer G (43-47,000 BP) than that suggested by the TL dating (50-55,000 BP). After Mellars & Grün 1991 (see also Fig. 6.19).

of burnt flint samples (Valladas et al. 1986) and by a parallel series of ESR measurements on animal teeth from the same levels (Figs 2.28, 6.19) (Mellars & Grün 1991; see also Mellars 1986a). At present therefore the sequence recorded in the lower shelter of Le Moustier must be regarded as by far the best and most securely dated sequence of strati-graphic and archaeological levels so far documented from the later stages of the

Mousterian succession in southwestern France.

The general climatic pattern recorded in the dated part of the stratigraphic sequence at Le Moustier, (i.e. between layers G and J) is summarized in Fig. 2.29. As will be seen, the pollen record throughout the greater part of the sequence indicates a succession of predominantly cold climatic conditions characterized by generally low frequencies of arbo

Figure 2.29 Pollen sequence recorded by Paquereau (1975) through the upper levels (layers H-J) at Le Moustier. For details of the stratigraphy and dating of the sequence, see Fig. 2.28.

real pollen, mostly between 2 and 5 percent, and with pine as the only tree species represented in the majority of the levels (Paquereau 1975). At three separate points in the sequence, however, there are indications of phases of much milder climate. In the pollen records, traces of apparent interstadials can be recognized in level G2 and in levels 11-13, in each case marked by a sharp rise in the overall frequency of tree pollen from 2-5 to around 15-20 percent and with the appear ance of more warmth-demanding deciduous species such as birch, alder, hazel and willow. In the sedimentary record there is evidence for an additional and more major climatic amelioration coinciding with the interface between levels G and H (Laville 1975; Laville et al 1980). In this case there is no direct pollen evidence for the climatic amelioration - since the phase was evidently marked more by weathering and erosion of the existing deposits than by the accumula tion of new sediments - but the presence of a major warm interval is strongly indicated by the presence of a heavily weathered soil horizon which penetrates for a depth of almost 60 cm into the underlying deposits of layer G (Fig. 2.28). In the earlier literature this level was generally taken to represent the position of the main 'Würm I/IV interstadial within the Le Moustier succession, before the recent redating of the site by Valladas et ah (see Laville 1975,1988; Laville et ah 1980: 174-181; 1986; Mellars 1986a, 1988). In all we can probably recognize a succession of at least three separate interstadial episodes within the later stages of the Le Moustier sequence separated by phases of much colder climate and all lying within the time range of 55-40,000 BP (Figs 2.28, 2.29). In archaeological terms, these levels were associated with typical Mousterian of Acheulian tradition (MTA) industries (of both Type A and Type B forms: Bourgon 1957) and with a succession of faunal assemblages heavily dominated by remains of large bovids (i.e. either Bos or Bison) (Peyrony 1930; S. Madelaine, personal communication). All these climatic oscillations fall within the time range of isotope stage 3 of the deep-sea core sequences, which can be seen again as a period of relatively complex, sharply fluctuating climate. To attempt a more specific correlation of these interstadials with those recorded in some of the other climatic sequences summarized in Fig. 2.16, however, might be premature for the reasons already discussed.

The precise dating and correlation of the various climatic fluctuations recorded in the basal part of the Le Moustier sequence (between levels A and F) remain for the present much more debatable. As Laville et ah (1980: 174-7) have emphasized, these deposits represent an entirely separate episode in the geological history of the Le Moustier site, dominated by a series of flu-viatile deposits laid down during successive periods of flooding by the adjacent Vezere river. There is almost certainly a major strati-

graphic and erosional hiatus between the formation of these levels and that of the overlying layers G-J which, in the absence of any direct dating evidence, could relate to almost any point within the last glacial sequence. The pollen evidence from these levels reveals two major warm episodes which might well equate with those recorded in levels 50-52 and 41=43 at Combe Grenal (i.e. coinciding with isotope stages 5c and 5a) (Paquereau 1975; Laville et ah 1980: 181; Laville 1975: 186-7). In the absence of any independent chronological control for this part of the Le Moustier sequence, however, it might be unwise to press these correlations any further.

Although not within the Middle Palaeolithic time range, it should be noted that there is evidence for a further, well defined inter-stadial during the opening stages of the Upper Palaeolithic sequence in southwestern France, coinciding broadly with the earlier stages of the Châtelperronian. This can be seen in the detailed pollen sequences from both Saint-Césaire and Quinçay and is strongly hinted at in the contemporaneous pollen and sedimentological sequences from Les Cottes, Les Tambourets, La Ferrassie, Trou de la Chèvre and, further to the northeast, at Arcy-sur-Cure (Fig. 2.30) (Leroi-Gourhan 1984; Leroyer 1986, 1988, 1990; Paquereau 1984; Leroi-Gourhan & Renault-Miskovsky 1977; Renault-Miskovsky & Leroi-Gourhan 1981; Laville et ah 1980). The existence of a major interstadial at this point in the early Upper Palaeolithic is now so widely recognized that it has been formally designated by Leroi-Gourhan and Renault-Miskovsky (1977; also Renault-Miskovsky & Leroi-Gourhan 1981) as the 'Les Cottés' interstadial. Indeed, in the latest stratigraphie schemes of Laville, this has been elevated to the most significant interstadial in the whole of the last-glacial succession in southwestern France and accordingly designated the 'inter-stade Wiirmien' (Laville et ah 1986; Laville 1988; Guadelli & Laville 1990). The exact

Figure 2.30 Pollen sequence recorded through the later Mousterian and Chatelperronian levels at Arcy-sur-Cure (central France), showing evidence for a major climatic amelioration during the formation of the Chatelperronian levels. This interval is generally referred to as the 'Fes Cottes' interstadial in France, and assumed (more tenuously) to correlate with the Hengelo interstadial in the Netherlands. After Leroi-Gourhan 1988.

Figure 2.30 Pollen sequence recorded through the later Mousterian and Chatelperronian levels at Arcy-sur-Cure (central France), showing evidence for a major climatic amelioration during the formation of the Chatelperronian levels. This interval is generally referred to as the 'Fes Cottes' interstadial in France, and assumed (more tenuously) to correlate with the Hengelo interstadial in the Netherlands. After Leroi-Gourhan 1988.

dating of the interstadial remains ambiguous, mainly owing to the imprecision of most radiocarbon dates in this time range, but is generally estimated around 36,000 BP (Leroi-Gourhan & Renault-Miskovsky 1977; Renault-Miskovsky & Leroi-Gourhan 1981). Certainly, the amelioration is known to have come to an end by ca 34,000 BP when there is clear evidence for the re-establishment of extremely cold full-glacial conditions coinciding with the appearance of the earliest Aurignacian industries in the Perigord region (Movius 1975; Farrand 1975, 1988; Renault-Miskovsky & Leroi-Gourhan 1981).

The obvious correlation, therefore, would be to regard this interval as the equivalent of the so-called 'Hengelo' interstadial, now documented widely from many other parts of northwestern Europe and similarly dated by radiocarbon to around 36-38,000 BP (Figs 2.10, 2.16: Van der Hammen et al. 1967; Leroi-Gourhan & Renault-Miskovsky 1977; Zagwijn 1990). In absolute terms we should probably regard this interval as lying closer to ca 39-41,000 BP, if we take into account the accumulating evidence for an approximately 3,000-year displacement in the radiocarbon time-scale over this period (Bard et al. 1990a). In any event, this well defined interstadial during the earliest stages of the Upper Palaeolithic sequence must be seen as a further major component within the overall sharply oscillating climatic succession of oxygen-isotope stage 3.

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