Analyse technotypologique des hachereaux et autres macro-outils à tranchant transversal de Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère) - Université de Rennes Access content directly
Journal Articles Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française Year : 2021

Technotypological analysis of cleavers and other macro-tools with transversal cutting edges from Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère)

Analyse technotypologique des hachereaux et autres macro-outils à tranchant transversal de Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère)

Juliette Capdevielle

Abstract

The research issues related to large flake (e.g. whose length exceed 10 cm) technologies can from now on help to characterize the Acheulean technical systems of Western Europe, whose diversity remains complex to grasp. Taking part in this variability, the Iberian Acheulean, which extends in the current state of research from the eponymous peninsula to the South of the Aquitaine Basin, testifies to the recurrent use of large flakes as blanks for the production of macro-tools. Contrastingly, the North and East of the continent are apparently largely devoid of these singular material cultures. However, the lithic industry of the major site of Menez-Dregan I in the Armorican Massif reveals the use of large flakes as blanks for the production of macro-tools, of which choppers and handaxes are the most representatives. The study of the cleaver, a particular tool technotype systematically made from large flakes, is a privileged angle of approach to the theme of the technical traditions of human groups. However, its definition is a matter of debate in the scientific community, and the various technotypological and terminological approaches addressed by different schools of thought disturb the lines of research on the subject. The fundamental difference between these points of view lies in the nature of the cutting edge, and more precisely in the concept of its production, reflecting differing views on the technocultural scope of this tool. Indeed, only J. Tixier’s strict definition gives the cleaver the status of a clearly identifiable technical phenomenon, as a tool with a sharp cutting edge, whose production requires a mental representation of the applied method and not only of the desired form. Nevertheless, the original conceptual scheme ruling the creation of the cleaver is not necessarily applied in a homogeneous way of production. The analysis of the methods and techniques used during its production could help to clarify the variability of this technical manifestation, without neglecting the possible limiting nature of certain environments. Twelve macro-tools which have in common their transversal ending and the possibility of a flake as blank appear sporadically within the large sequence of the site of Menez-Dregan I, within occupation levels ranging from marine isotopic stages (MIS) 11 to 8. The in-depth technological study of this new collection allows us to identify five cleavers, three bifacial pieces with transversal cutting edges, and four pieces of an undetermined technotype. The analysis provides reflection on the cultural implication of these technotypes at Menez-Dregan I. At first glance, cleavers and pieces with transversal cutting edges offer a relatively identical morphology with a sharp transversal cutting-edge considered as the desired purpose of the tool, which has led some authors to bring them together under the same determination. However, these pieces are part of distinct production concepts, the elaboration of the transversal cutting edge being at the heart of this nuance. Several hypotheses are ultimately possible regarding the use of different conceptual schemes to produce a transversal cutting edge, but these explanations are always linked to specific circumstances and are not generalizable. Therefore, the phenomenon seems complex, the factors influencing the production of a particular tool technotype being multiple and intertwined. It is clear, however, that the obvious technological difference between bifacial pieces and cleavers justifies a technotypological distinction of these tools in the study of material cultures. This discrepancy could reveal, in particular, a functional diversity, revealing distinct roles of these technotypes within prehistoric societies, although this theory requires further argument through further studies. The bifacial cleaver, on the other hand, is only a morphotype within the biface typological group. It is not excluded that the specific transversal cutting edge of certain bifacial pieces may reflect a functional position close to or complementary to that of the cleavers among the range of tools available to populations, the morphometrical properties of these cutting edges requiring to be specified. The rare cleavers from Menez-Dregan I appear in layers correlated with MIS 10 to 8. They all belong to Tixier’s type 0, with a transversal cutting-edge located at the intersection of the ventral face of the flake-blank and a natural surface, and display a restricted retouch often limited to eliminating the bulb of percussion. A contextualization at the scale of Western Europe highlights certain technological similarities between these locally atypical pieces, and cleavers from industries related to the Iberian Acheulean in the South-West of the continent, within the same chronological time frame. As a matter of fact, a strong preponderance of Tixier’s type 0 is perceptible within series from El Sartalejo, Pinedo and Porto Maior level PM4. However, the share of environmental determinisms needs to be further supported to bring tangible elements to the technocultural implication of these tools. Indeed, the eventuality that the presence or absence cleavers, as well as their modalities of production, may be linked to the limiting character or to the potentials of the available raw materials cannot be rejected. The abondance of tenacious rocks in the form of cobbles, well adapted to the debitage of large neocortical flakes, and offering particularly resisting raw linear cutting-edges, may have drawn the knappers to favoring the production of type 0 cleavers. Furthermore, the role of these tools in the mental template of the societies who produce them needs to be further precised. If the global morphometric characteristics of the different series of studied cleavers show some divergences, they do not necessarily reflect the knapper’s intentions. In order to better encompass the intention of use of these tools, it would be relevant to study their structure in the frame of a techno- morpho-functional approach, leaning on the characterization of areas displaying technical and morphological convergences, considered as potential functional entities.
Les problématiques liées aux technologies de débitage de grands éclats, supérieurs à 10 cm de longueur, figurent parmi les pistes actuelles de recherche visant une meilleure caractérisation des systèmes techniques acheuléens d'Europe de l'Ouest, dont la diversité demeure complexe à appréhender. L'étude du hachereau en particulier, macro-outil sur éclat lié à un phénomène technique clairement identifiable, constitue un angle d'approche privilégié pour aborder le thème des traditions techniques des groupes humains. Dans le Massif armoricain, l'utilisation de grands éclats comme supports de certains macro-outils sur le site de Menez-Dregan I interpelle, compte tenu de la rareté de ce phénomène dans les industries du nord de l'Europe. L'analyse technotypologique de 12 macro-outils à tranchant transversal, parmi les 154000 artefacts lithiques récoltés sur ce site majeur, permet d'identifier cinq hachereaux, trois pièces bifaciales à tranchant transversal et quatre pièces dont le technotype demeure indéterminé. Les rares hachereaux de Menez-Dregan I apparaissent dans des couches corrélées aux SIM 10 à 8. Ils sont tous du type 0 de J. Tixier, au tranchant transversal situé à l'intersection de la face ventrale de l'éclat-support et d'une surface naturelle, et présentent une retouche restreinte souvent limitée à une élimination du bulbe de percussion. Des similitudes technologiques sont perceptibles entre ces pièces localement atypiques et les hachereaux issus d'industries rattachés à l'Acheuléen ibérique dans le sud-ouest du continent, inscrits dans la même fenêtre chronologique. Cependant, la part des déterminismes environnementaux, mais aussi les aspects morphofonctionnels de ces outils, demandent à être étayés davantage pour apporter des éléments tangibles quant à d'éventuels traits technoculturels communs.
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Dates and versions

hal-03296270 , version 1 (22-07-2021)

Identifiers

  • HAL Id : hal-03296270 , version 1

Cite

Juliette Capdevielle, Anne-Lyse Ravon. Analyse technotypologique des hachereaux et autres macro-outils à tranchant transversal de Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère). Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 2021, 118 (2), pp.215-243. ⟨hal-03296270⟩
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