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Stratum plus. 2005-2009. №1

L. Slimak (Toulouse, France)

The Neronian and the historical structure of cultural shifts from Middle to Upper Palaeolithic in Mediterranean France

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Pages: 94-102

The end of the Middle Palaeolithic period can be considered as a key moment in the history of humanity, characterized by profound changes in traditional Palaeolithic societies. The analysis of recent Mousterian industries in Mediterranean France highlights certain points of inflection which presage new ways of life. The analysis of the key sites demonstrates important transformations within the societies of the last Neanderthals, with a gradual rearticulation of Mousterian technical systems around the production of blades and points. These technologically distinctive industries show also distinct chronological, territorial and cultural characteristics and can be designated by a specific name, the “Néronien” (Neronian). Neronian appears in a number of important regional sequences just before the arrival of the first “true” Upper Palaeolithic industries (the Protoaurignacian). However, Neronian doesn’t represent the end of the Middle Palaeolithic period in the Rhône valley. At Mandrin shelter it is followed by what may be called post-Neronian, that is a succession of usual Mousterian assemblages lacking any visible Upper Palaeolithic features. There is an interesting parallelism between the historical paths of the Castelperronian in the arch of the Massif Central and the Neronian in the Rhône valley. These data highlight the mosaic nature of the profound cultural changes that occurred at the end of the Middle Palaeolithic.


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