Article | Socio-economic dynamics of Magdalenian hunter-gatherers: Functional perspective

Eugénie Gauvrit Roux, 2022, PLOS ONE 17(10): e0274819.

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The beginning of the Middle Magdalenian is marked by an increase in the density and geographic extension of evidences of human occupation across western Europe. The Early Middle Magdalenian (19,5–17,5 ka cal. BP) thereby extends from Poland to Spain, and the sharing of the flint-knapping concepts and the circulation of raw materials show the existence of networks active over this wide area. In parallel, part of the production of art, ornaments, microliths, bone industry, and the proportions of hunted ungulates vary regionally and allow to identify distinct technical traditions. Departing from a palethnographic approach at a regional scale, this paper aims at participating in renewing our understanding of the mechanisms of regionalisation during the period, and among past societies of hunter-gatherers. The reflection is based on the techno-functional analysis of stone tools from two cave sites of west-central France that are at the heart of the definition of two technical traditions: La Marche (Magdalenian with Lussac-Angles points) and the Blanchard cave (Magdalenian with navettes). Inter-site comparisons of the functioning and management of stone tools, and of subsistence strategies show the sharing of techno-economical norms, expressing the adhesion to a wider community of practice. The long-term occupation of at least part of the caves and the high density of sites in the Vienne, the Creuse, the Gartempe, and the Charente Valleys, indicate the strong regional implantation of human societies. This strong territoriality (effective and symbolic) is likely a major factor to understand the specificity of the EMM expressions in the area, as well as the sharing, in the same economic territory, of technical norms and of part of the system of symbolic representation.