The Moustérien is the principal cultural event of the Paléolithique means in Eurasia (approximately - 300.000 with - 30.000 before the present). It is mainly the work of the Homme of Néandertal. It was defined in 1872 by G. of Mortillet starting from the lithic Industrie of the higher shelter of the Moustier, located in the valley of the Vézère in the Dordogne. It succeeds the Acheuléen and precedes the Châtelperronien.
Facies of MoustérienInitially empirically then in a statistical way (in particular by F. Border as from the years 1950), the proportions of the various types of tools present in a site made it possible to define several alternatives of Moustérien:
- typical Moustérien;
- Moustérien with dentils;
- Moustériens charentiens of the type Quina and type Ferrassie;
- Moustérien de Tradition Acheuléenne.
These facies were regarded by certain as the expression of different or successive cultures , , , and by others like the reflection of particular activities or of a diachronic evolution; it is probable that each one of these explanations comprises a share of truth…
Characteristics of industryIndustries moustériennes generally comprise ranges very diversified of tools on glares, dominated by various forms of Racloir S (scrapers simple, double, convergent, buckled…), of the points, the Scraper S, the dentils, the notches. The glares necessary are produced by complex methods of Débitage, of which the Méthode Levallois. These tools on glares are sometimes associated with small Biface S, often mean and regular.
The distribution of the traces of wear (as some exceptional discoveries of parts carrying of the natural adhesive matter vestiges) showed that these tools could be fixed. These same traces of use, observed on the edges using powerful microscopes, taught us that the men of this period did not work only the stone but also wood, the fresh and dry animal skins for their conservation, and that they used sometimes their tools to cut plants , .
Complex behaviorsFor the tools diversified and the already evoked complex methods of size, it is necessary to add a certain number of behaviors evolved, such as the hunting of large herbivores (Bison S, Aurochs, horses) with lowering of herds to natural traps , , the selection and the transport of flint of very good quality at distances which can go until a hundred kilometers or the installation of the habitat, of which testify to the remainders of huts or the built hearths, as much in the open air than under shelter (even if in this last case the vestiges more frequently and better are preserved).
The Homme of Néandertal also seems to be the first, approximately 100.000 years ago, to have had concerns of a spiritual nature: indeed, several skeletons of Néandertaliens were discovered in burials particularly neat, sometimes accompanied by deposits undoubtedly ritual by tools or animal horns. To these burials are added other testimonys of concerns of an esthetic nature, such that the ocher collection, fossils strange or rare minerals and the realization of engravings or nonfigurative incisions.
The wandering hunters-gatherers néandertaliens thus were adapted perfectly to their environment and sufficiently advanced to survive during several tens of thousands of years, sometimes under extreme climatic conditions (glacial periods). Their progressive disappearance approximately 30.000 years ago, at the time of the arrival of the anatomically modern human come from the the Middle East, remains partly unexplained.
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