The Solutrean-to-Magdalenian transition (ca. 23 cal. ka BP): what place for the Badegoulian in the evolving trajectory of hunter-gatherers societies in Southwestern Europe?

Abstract : In Southwest Europe the Solutrean-to-Magdalenian transition is a key phase to discuss the mechanisms of cultural changes and their relation to both external and internal factors. While old-established deep typo-technological changes are documented at the end of the Solutrean in present-day France—through the definition of the “Badegoulian” traditions—, in the Iberian Peninsula some interpretative models allow one to compare this transition to a progressive process of “desolutreanization” leading directly to the Magdalenian. While these changes and their spatio-temporal variability could hypothetically be linked to (1) population movements and changes, (2) climatic/environmental shifts and variability and/or (3) socio-economic stimulus, a critical reading shows that their recognition is partially based on non taphonomically-controlled assemblages, an incomplete coverage of the archaeological record and a misuse of (old) radiometric data. Researches led between 2012 and 2017 in the framework of the SaM project aimed to reconsider this issue at the “classical” scale of southwest France. The discussion around the so-called “cultural break” between Upper Solutrean and Badegoulian has been conducted through the analysis of the entire lithic—flint—and osseous equipments, a reassessment of the typo-technological characteristic of the ornaments and a dating program based as far as possible on direct dating of diagnostic and specific artifacts and/or technical antler and bone wastes. Thus, beside a crucial and careful taphonomic evaluation of each archaeological context, our approach mainly relied on the dialectic relationships between the hunting weapons and domestic tools (i.e. managing and maintenance of the equipments through space and time), trying to assess the degree of techno-economic differentiation between Solutrean and Badegoulian assemblages. Results of this work allow us to propose that the reconfiguration of the rules governing the production of hunting weaponry between 24 and 21 cal. ka BP may have been accompanied by the emergence of new mobility strategies, changes in group dynamics and the way in which the territory was exploited. These techno and probably socio-economic deep changes are also accompanied by a complete change in the sets of ornaments, showing very distinct markers and reinforcing the “cultural” significance of this techno-economic break. While the timing of this wide transformation is apparently fast at our scale of stratigraphic and radiometric observation, the available data make it very difficult, if no possible, to correlate the rhythm of these changes with climatic and/or environmental variations in spite of the increase number of dated sites and assemblages. One can only note the correlation with a unstable climatic phase characterized by fast alternating of cooling and warming phases mainly corresponding to the GI-2 (23,3-23 cal. ka BP). At the wider geographic scale, while environmental factors have recently been tested to explain the highly debated LGM “cultural mosaic” (i.e. Badegoulian in present-day France versus Final Solutrean in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula), recent research notably conducted at Pégourié (Lot, France) and Aitzbitarte IV (Guipúzcoa, Basque Country) caves fuels the hypothesis of a large geographical phenomenon of deep changes by confirming (1) the links between Southwest France and north-west Spain through the dissemination of specific engraved antler artifacts—the so-called “pseudo-excised” pieces—and (2) the existence in both areas of very characteristic Badegoulian features at a very similar chronological timespan, often mixed with Magdalenian and/or Solutrean component in old-excavated sites. Beside the archaeological data and anthropological discussions, this talk will indirectly but constantly highlight the absolute necessity to look critically at our fieldwork and chronological baseline data, especially when it comes to build explanatory models of cultural evolutions.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 17, 2019 - 5:08:47 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 19, 2019 - 9:29:32 AM

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Sylvain Ducasse, Caroline Renard, François-Xavier Chauvière, Jean-Marc Pétillon, Jean-Christophe Castel, et al.. The Solutrean-to-Magdalenian transition (ca. 23 cal. ka BP): what place for the Badegoulian in the evolving trajectory of hunter-gatherers societies in Southwestern Europe?. The Last Glacial Maximum in Europe. State of knowledge in Geosciences and Archaeology, Mayr C.; Maier A., Mar 2019, Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. ⟨hal-02132953⟩

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