Paving

The existence of clearly defined areas of pebble or stone paving has been documented from many Upper Palaeolithic sites in France, ranging from the Upper Perigordian to the late Magdalenian. The usual presumption is that the paving was intended to regularize and consolidate the occupation surfaces or,

Figure 9.24 (Opposite page) Clearly defined circular hearth, associated with burned stones (marked by vertical shading), recorded in the later Mousterian levels of the Grotte du Bison at Arcy-sur-Cure (Yonne). The upper diagram shows the location of the hearth in relation to the cave interior and distribution of artefacts and faunal remains in the same level. The grid indicates square metres. After Girard 1976.

Figure 9.26 Area of cobble paving recorded in the 'Rissian' (?isotope stage 6) levels of the Baume-Bonne cave in Provence (Basses-Alpes). The paved area covered approximately 6 square metres and contained up to 185 cobbles per square metre, apparently obtained from the alluvial deposits immediately below the site. After de Lumley & Boone 1976a.

Figure 9.26 Area of cobble paving recorded in the 'Rissian' (?isotope stage 6) levels of the Baume-Bonne cave in Provence (Basses-Alpes). The paved area covered approximately 6 square metres and contained up to 185 cobbles per square metre, apparently obtained from the alluvial deposits immediately below the site. After de Lumley & Boone 1976a.

perhaps more likely, to provide a drier and more stable living surface in areas prone to waterlogging (e.g. Leroi-Gourhan 1976; Gaussen 1980; Combier 1982; Sackett 1988).

The existence of analogous features in earlier Palaeolithic contexts is therefore by no means implausible, and seems to be supported by two or three reasonably well documented occurrences from French sites. The best evidence comes from the later Rissian levels in the Baume-Bonne cave, near Quin-son in the Basses-Alpes. Here, de Lumley &

Boone (1976a) reported several sharply prescribed areas, each covering about 10 square metres, containing continuous and densely packed concentrations of quartz and quart-zite pebbles derived from the adjacent gravels of the Verdon river (Fig. 9.26). De Lumley reported densities in places of up to 185 of these cobbles per square metre. The fact that all the pebbles must have been carried deliberately into the site, combined with the relatively sharply defined limits of the paved areas and the fact that most of the fractured pebbles were apparently laid with the convex (i.e. smoother) faces uppermost, would appear to provide strong if not conclusive evidence for the deliberate construction of the paving. De Lumley's explanation is that the pebbles were placed selectively in certain naturally damp areas of the cave floor, where muddy pools would have formed during periods of heavy rains. From the available evidence there seems no reason to doubt either the deliberate nature of the paving or de Lumlev's plausible explanation for its ori-gin.

Other claims for deliberate paving in Middle Palaeolithic sites are either less well documented in the literature, or more open to doubt. Localized areas of pebble paving apparently similar to those at Baume-Bonne have been reported from the Mindel-Riss levels of the Aldene cave (Herault), covering about 6 square metres, and from certain levels of the Mas des Caves cave at Lunel-Viel (Herault) (de Lumley & Boone 1976a). According to Tuffreau, a concentrated zone of flint nodules, covering approximately 3 square metres, recorded in level D1 at Biache-Saint-Vaast (Pas-de-Calais) could conceivably represent the remnants of similar paving - although he points out that this could be interpreted alternatively as a localized concentration of stored flint supplies, intended for later tool manufacture on the site (Tuffreau & Marcy 1988). Possible traces of even earlier pebble paving were described by de Lumley (1969b; de Lumley & Boone 1976a) from some of the occupation levels on the dune areas at Terra Amata.

Possibly similar areas of stone paving have been reported so far from only two sites in southwestern France. The most widely reported example was recorded by Denis Peyrony (1934) in his excavations in the large shelter at La Ferrassie. Intercalated between tbie two principal Ferrassie-Mousterian levels in layers C and D1 he reported a roughly rectangular area of approximately 15 square metres containing what he interpreted as a deliber ately laid floor of flattened limestone slabs. Peyrony's account of this feature is brief and from the information provided it is hardly possible to evaluate his interpretation in any detail. Since natural geological accumulations of limestone slabs are known to occur in many rock-shelter deposits, any interpretation of this as a deliberately constructed feature needs to be viewed with caution. An apparently similar layer of limestone slabs was recorded by Bordes in the lower levels of Pech de FAzé site I and interpreted by him as most probably a natural feature (Bordes 1954-55: 406).

A possibly more convincing feature was recorded by Geneste (1985) in his excavations in the open-air site of Fonseigner in the Dronne Valley. In one of the lower occupation levels (layer I) he recorded a dense concentration of pebbles from the adjacent river, which he describes as having a an apparently organized pattern strongly reminiscent of the undisputed pebble pavements recorded in many of the well known Upper Palaeolithic open-air sites in the same region (Solvieux, Le Cérisier, Guillassou, Le Breuil etc.) (Geneste 1985: 43, Fig. 10; cf. Sackett 1988). This discovery is reminiscent of those reported from Baume-Bonne and other cave sites in the Provence region discussed above and may rank as a further, well documented example of the use of deliberate pebble-paving to stabilize occupation surfaces in Middle Palaeolithic sites.

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