Old Stone Age

Abri Peryony - Summary

Abri Peyrony is known primarily from Peyrony's brief publication in 1925 and from Lenoir and Dibble's report of their test excavations there in 1990 as part of the Combe-Capelle Bas project. These latter excavations seemed to show that in situ deposits still remained at the site, though the extent of these was not clear and whether they were in primary or secondary context was debated. Unfortunately, Peyrony's did not publish a section or a plan of the site. Thus one of our primary goals was to evaluate what remained of the site. Of particular interest in this regard was a rock pile on the western side. Paul Fitte had said he had the rocks placed there to protect the site sometime after Peyrony's excavations.

After three years of excavation at the site, it is not clear that rock pile pre-dates Peyrony, and that deposits remain on both the lower and upper terrace. The stratigraphy is roughly as Peyrony described with two layers on each terrace. On the lower terrace we found numerous handaxes indicative of a Mousterian of Acheulian Tradition assemblage. On the upper terrace, we found a very similar industry, but we did not find any handaxes. The fauna are well preserved and show very little evidence for carnivore accumulation or modification. The fauna of the lowest level on the lower terrace is dominated by cervids (reindeer) and in the upper level by large bovids and horse.

In addition to the stone artifacts and bones, we also found numerous pieces of manganese dioxide. The study of these pieces is still on-going, but many of them have facettes that show that they were worked.

Level L-3A Bifaces

We also found three pieces of modified bone that appear to be bone-tools. These pieces come from the two levels on the lower terrace. A manuscript describing these pieces is under review.

The lower terrace deposits have been dated using radiocarbon on bone. These results show the site to be very late or final Middle Paleolithic. In 2013, several OSL samples were also collected as part of a project to date several sites in the area. These samples have been studied and will be published in a paper on the MTA that also includes new data from Pech de l'Aze I.