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Caractérisation et gestion du silex des sites mésolithiques et néolithiques du Nord-Ouest de l’arc alpin

Une approche pétrographique at géochimique

Céline Bressy


Prehistoric (Neolithic/Mesolithic) occupation of the Northern Alps (South East France) is known through the discovery of sites that reveal lithic and bone remains, and the study of such finds can give an accurate understanding of prehistoric seasonal exploitation and movements within a massif and alpine environment. In French Prealpes sites, the material most encountered is flint. The Geological surveys presented in this volume allow the author to map out regional flint resources and to regroup several hundreds of reference samples. Conventionally, the flints were submitted to macroscopic and petrographic analyses, however such methods do not always provide discrimination and some sources remain hard to identify in a complex lithic environment. In an attempt to solve this problem, the author brings a new insight to flint characterization through geochemistry. Flints from 30 sources (138 samples), and from two archaeological sites (27 artefacts), were investigated using ICP-AES and ICP-MS, and the resultslead to flint classification across the different geological stages. Analyses of another material widely used throughout Prehistory, obsidian, highlighted the specificity of a flint geochemical fingerprint. The petrographic approach used during this study resulted in the author’s being able to define the procurement pattern and to source certain flint artefacts from eight archaeological sites by comparison with available geological samples. The archaeological material studied through geochemistry (and non-destructive approaches) revealed different attitudes toward flint procurement related to site function, geographic location, and period considered. The main contact areas and circulation patterns were also highlighted.