Under the city of Angoulême traces of hunter-gatherers

In the lower part of Angouleme archaeologists from Inrap have discovered three periods of prehistoric occupation that date between 12,000 and 8,000 BC, as well as a very rare sedimentary millefeuille corresponding to the passage of the last ice age to the present moderate period.

In the lower part of the city Angoulême (Charente), between the station and the Charente, archaeologists from the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) have discovered on an unexpected surface of 4,000 m2, different levels of occupation by prehistoric man, Homo sapiens, more precise.

An exceptional geological sequence

These layers are associated with a series of white tufa (carbonate deposit) and brown peat (dead plants) with a thickness of at least three meters. This sedimentary millefeuille covers a period from the end of the last ice age (Lateglacial) to the beginning of the current moderate period (Holocene).

" This very complete geological sequence, unpublished in the south of France, informs us about past environments and climatessays Miguel Biard, archaeologist who is responsible for the search. Now, according to the Heritage Code, it is considered one & # 39; & # 39;exceptional discovery& # 39; & # 39; and should serve as a reference for all specialized archaeologists of that time. "" A rare event that takes place three or four times a year in France "Says Nathalie Fourment, Drac Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Prehistoric man has tightened up his techniques very early

Different periods of human habitation

More specifically, archaeologists distinguish three prehistoric occupations: the first is due to the Azilian (12 000 BC), a culture that owes its name to Mas-d & # 39; Azil (Ariège), the second corresponding to the Labourian (9,900 BC), a culture that covers the south of France, and finally indexes of Mesolithic occupation (8,000 BC). The deposit, located in the valley (formerly crossed by the Charente and whose bed has been moved) is in a remarkable state of conservation, despite erosive phenomena that resulted in a spread of objects.

Zenith view of the two archaeological layers / Denis Glicksman / Inrap

Zenith view of two archaeological layers. / Denis Glicksman / Inrap

A hunting and carcass treatment area during the Azilian

" Azilian is generally associated with monitoring global warming
the last ice age. It is characterized by a transformation of fauna (passage from reindeer to deer) and flora (disappearance of birch, spruce and juniper in favor of oak, beech and willow), changing human behavior, use of bricks cutting technology for which more know-how is required
"Says Miguel Biard, himself a flint cutter.

Over a thickness of 40 to 80 cm, four foci, an ocher-colored ball, heated pebbles, bone remains (feet of wood and bone-deer) and a rocket were stoked. " From flint from the Angoulême plateau or the Charente, the tailors produced sheets to make projectile points and this place would be a hunting ground, treatment and consumption of carcasses, as shown by the discovery of scrapers ", Believes Miguiel Biard.

Examples of seven / Denis Glicksman / Inrap

Examples of seven / Denis Glicksman / Inrap

The last blow of the Labor cold

Two thousand years later with the Labourian, a crucial period, we are witnessing one last shot of the cold "." It is the time when sources come from the karst plateau on which the shape of the upper city is located, at the foot of the slope, a dam of tufa of 3 meters thick, literally luring the level of the workman in the fall "Says Grégory Dandurand, geomorphologist at Inrap.

At this archaeological level, the researchers unearthed fireplaces, flint posts, large flint knives gathered from horse bones, probably corresponding to a slaughterhouse activity. They especially liked " composite arrowheads Made of small regular and narrow leaves, characteristic of this culture: the tops of the Blanchères and the points of Malaurie.

For a total of seven months, the team of a dozen archaeologists has viewed 1500 m3 sediments. Approximately 200,000 pieces, including more than 400 arrowheads of different shapes, as well as snails and pollen grains were collected. Started in April, the search will be completed very soon: November 23.

Denis Sergent