Angoulême: an "exceptional" site that testifies to climate change in prehistory

About 200,000 flints, 400 arrowheads: this is the discovery presented by Angouleme archaeologists on Wednesday in a site described as "exceptional", as evidence of climate change from the late Paleolithic to the Mesolithic.

"It is exceptional for its location in the chronology.In Angouleme, we are fortunate to have a prehistoric site of over 4000 years that comes to inform us about the transition from a cold climate to a temperate climate," said the press archaeologist Miguel Biard.

From April 9 to November 23, preventive excavations on the islet of Renaudin are carried out on an area of ​​2,000 m2 – 6,000 m3 of earth removed and 1,600 sifted – before the construction of a shopping center near the railway station. Angouleme.

Archaeologists, who came to look for traces of an old pottery, were surprised to discover prehistoric pieces, described as "rare and especially in quantity" by Mr. Biard, head of operations and research at Inrap (National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research).

"In this place, prehistoric people will live (…) and will make their instruments", he said, underlining that "over 4,000 years, men did not cut the flints in the same way".

According to this archaeologist working for the first time in the city, "these are different technologies that allow us to have information".

The geology and morphology of the site are also exceptional, covering three transition periods (recent Azilian in 11.500 BC, laborian in 9.900 and Mesolithic in 8.900).

The thick tufa layer has allowed us to have "a snapshot of the first inhabitants of this sector with pieces that are almost in place," according to Grégory Dandurand, Inrap's geomorphologist.

Flints and other discoveries of archaeologists on the site of the islet Renaudin, Angouleme, 7 November 2018 (AFP – GEORGES GOBET)

"These deposits of tuff have come to cover everything, we have a protective effect that is rather unique (…) It's a hat, a bell," he said.

Thus, a possible field was discovered with traces of fire and tools 9,000 years before our era.

This information is all the more important as "the cultures from Azilic to Mesolithic are not well informed in the region," said Dandurand.

Faced with such a state of conservation, the islet Renaudin could become a reference for other sites that lack information on this period of prehistory.

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