Article | Evolutionary Dynamics of Armatures in Southern France in the Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic

Elsa Defranould , Sylvie Philibert and Thomas Perrin, journal Open Archaeology, 2022

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Abstract: The use of weapons, and therefore of arrowheads, contributed to structuring the technical, economic, social and cultural domains. In the technical sphere, emblematic projectile armatures are often considered to be loaded with cultural values and to embody the expression of human group identity. The study of their variability, in time and space, can shed light on mechanisms of mutation and innovation stemming from adaptative strategies and cultural choices.
During the seventh and sixth millennia, the renewal of arrowheads corresponds to major changes in lithic equipment. Between the Late Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic, we observe a diversification of arrowhead shapes and the evolution of represented types. These observations enhance interpretative scenarios, especially questions concerning the transfer of know-how, techno-economic renewal and neolithization. This paper proposes to study these changes at the sequence of the Baume de Montclus site, a key site in Southern France. The selected sequence covers 1.5 millennia of occupation, roughly from 6500 to 5000 BCE cal., with a corpus of geometric bitruncations of about 650 pieces. The combined study of microwear and technological and typological data leads to a comprehensive interpretation of manufacturing processes, hafting methods and function. These analyses provide valuable information on the diversity of arrowheads, the identification of specific technical traditions and the characterization of techno-functional ruptures throughout this sequence. These results will subsequently be integrated in a wider, regional and extra-regional context, with a particular focus on the emergence of blade and trapeze complexes and the neolithization of the western Mediterranean basin.

Key-word: Arrowheads, use-wear analyses, typo-technological study, technical traditions, neolithization.