The research led by Patricia Phillips at the University of Sheffield on the honey-coloured Bedoulien flint industries (silex blond bedoulien) was of fundamental importance for the understanding of Chassey culture societies in southern France (mid fifth-mid fourth millennium BC). She was one of the first scholars in the 1970s to champion the hypothesis of a provenance from the Vaucluse for the silex blond found in abundance on sites of southern France. She was instrumental in carrying out neutron activation analyses, which demonstrated that Vaucluse flint was distributed on sites far removed from its area of production (Aspinall et al. 1976, 1979; Phillips et al. 1977; Phillips 1980). Like Courtin at the CNRS in France with whom she collaborated, she was convinced that the intensive exploitation of the Bedoulien flint sources had been established in the Chassey culture period and not, as was thought by most scholars at the time, at the end of the Neolithic (Phillips 1982: 31). This approach opened up for her a vast area of investigation including Provence, the Drome, the Ardeche, the Languedoc-Roussillon and the Midi-Pyrenees. She was engaged in comparing the dimensions of blades from most Chassey culture settlement sites belonging to this geographical area (Phillips 1970, 1972a) and drew attention to the great differences in the quantities found (Phillips 1982, 1988: 285). Her breadth of interpretation reached to the socio-economic organisation of the Chassey culture, in particular its social structure (Phillips 1972b, 1982), its exchange and social interaction networks (Phillips et al. 1977; Phillips 1980) as well as population models (Phillips 1972b, 1982). Some of her theories would later be taken up by French researchers, making Patricia Phillips' work a point of reference for the southern Chassey culture.
More recently, research on the Chassey culture has benefited from new and different methods of approaching the study of lithics such as technological and use wear analysis (Binder 1991; Binder & Gassin 1988; Briois 1997; Lea 2002, 2003, 2004a). The application of these methods has allowed a better characterisation of flint production, its management and development within different regions. It has revitalised our perceptions of the Chassey culture, including the definition of a cultural chronology based on production of Bedoulien silex blond in Provence (Binder 1991) and in Languedoc (Briois 1997; Lea 2002), and the appreciation of a lithic industry that is much more heterogeneous (Binder 1998; Lea 2002).
Although the study of regional stratigraphies had been necessary for a number of years in order to understand the evolution of the Chassey culture, it resulted in a regional fragmentation of data and a compartmentalisation of research programmes. It therefore appears necessary today to apply our technological tools and trace analyses at an interregional scale, in a spirit closer to that of Patricia Phillips. We are convinced that the phenomenon represented by the distribution of Bedoulien silex blond has to be approached in its entirety. The aim is to characterise the lithic assemblages and their management throughout the distribution networks, from the production sites in the Vaucluse down to the consumer sites most remote from the original source of raw material. The modes of production, of distribution and of consumption of these Bedoulien silex blond industries prove indeed to be a powerful tool in revealing Chassey culture societies.
Characterisation of Chassey culture lithic productions
The area of extraction of Bedoulien flint is located mainly in the Vaucluse, between two tributaries of the left bank of the river Rhone: the Coulon-Cavalon in the south and the Ouveze in the north (Binder 1998a, b) (Figure 1). Nowadays these flints are well characterised, thanks to the use of thin sections which have confirmed the relevance of descriptive norms used during examination under binocular magnifying glasses (Barbier 1995; Binder 1998; Binder et al. 1998). Recent chemical analyses (LA-ICPMS) have also shown their limits (Blet et al. 2000). These flints are characterised by a fine homogenous texture (mudstone), a salmon-pink paste owed to the presence of iron or sulphur oxide grains, the presence of detrital quartz and of bioclasts (in particular sponges and echinoderms) (Barbier 1995). These components vary greatly between specimens, preventing us from discriminating precisely between different locations of primary raw materials.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
Products in silex blond Bedoulien from the Vaucluse, omnipresent in lithic assemblages on Chassey culture sites, have served as a basis for the definition of the 'southern Chasseen bladelet culture' or 'Chasseen meridional a lamelles' (Arnal 1956: 68). It is from these flints that the Chassey culture communities built up the largest part of their tool kit. Technological analyses show that one of the principal characteristics of the Chassey culture lithic industries is the great variety of products made from a single source of raw material (Binder & Gassin 1988; Binder 1991; Binder 1998: 123; Lea 2002: 34-35), in particular depending on whether the cores had been pre-heated.
The production of bladelets obtained from a heated core is characterised by a manufacturing procedure (chaine operatoire) whose various stages are carried out in different locations, sometimes far removed from each other (Figure 2). The flint was extracted and shaped on the production sites in the Vaucluse, and the preforms were circulated and heated before being knapped into bladelets on consumer sites. Heat treatment is recognised from matt, often reddened, planes--which reveal that the preforms were obtained before heating--and of shiny, greasy looking surfaces--which imply knapping after heating (Figure 3) (Seitzer-Olausson & Larsson 1982). This characteristic, known already from earlier archaeological contexts, had been observed for the southern Chassey culture in the 1980s (Binder 1984; Masson 1984). On consumer sites, the recourse to heated preforms would allow for a lesser degree of specialisation on the part of the knappers for obtaining bladelets: the heat treatment makes the knapping of bladelets easier and this can be carried out with light equipment (Pelegrin 1988: 49; Masson 1984; Binder & Gassin 1988: 122).
[FIGURES 2-3 OMITTED]
The production of blades that are not heat treated is also distinctive. Obtained by pressure or by indirect striking, the unheated blades are often more robust (Binder & Gassin 1988). The stages in the manufacturing procedure are also different: the knapping of the blades is done at the production sites and not on the consumer sites. It is therefore not the preforms that circulate but blanks or finished products (Figure 2). The subsequent use of these two types of product is also different: the robust, non-heated blades have a long life span as they are saved and often refreshed, whereas the heated bladelets are often used in their raw state and are quickly discarded (Binder & Gassin 1988; Gassin 1996; Astruc & Lea in press).
This difference in the management of blade products allows us to understand the results that Phillips obtained when systematically measuring the blades and bladelets from Chassey culture sites (Phillips 1972a). She had noted that the retouched blades were nearly always wider and thicker than those that had remained blank. It is therefore highly probable that the wide and thick retouched blades described by Phillips correspond to the production of non-heated blades; and that those left blank, of smaller dimensions, correspond to the production of bladelets knapped from heated cores.
The work of specialist craftsmen on production sites
These observations on the modes of production of Bedoulien flint industries reveal a strong trend towards specialised craftsmanship during the Chassey culture period. The delicate stages of shaping out carried out on the extraction sites are the work of specialists, whereas knapping of bladelets at consumer sites corresponds to a domestic production, made easy through heat treatment (Binder et al. 1990). These findings are supported by the results of several ethnological studies. In Irian Jaya (New Guinea), for example, in a Wano context, during the specialised production process of polished axes 'all the high risk stages are carried out in the extraction areas of the raw material' (Petrequin & Petrequin 1993: 364). It is a matter of energy saving and risk management, of minimising the chances of breakage during finishing. The shaping of a core for pressure knapping requires a great deal of technical knowledge, and therefore a long apprenticeship: all experimental flint knappers agree that the shaping phase is the most delicate part of the whole manufacturing procedure (Texier 1982: 60; Pelegrin 1984: 93). The process used for the heat treatment of preforms, which must have included the creation of a heating environment, the gradual increase of the temperature, the maintenance at an optimal temperature during a set amount of time and the gradual cooling, is at present unknown but must have also been professional (Binder et al. 1990).
Up to now, lithic studies have nearly always targeted consumer sites (Binder 1984, 1991; Binder & Gassin 1988; Vaquer 1990; Briois 1997; Briois et al. 1998; Gassin 1996; Lea 2002, 2003, 2004a). Data from workshops (i.e. producers) are dispersed or unpublished and in most cases stem from older excavations (Catelan & Catelan 1922a, b; Barthelemy 1956; Courtin 1974:61; Schmid 1960, 1962, 1980). Prehistorians have however been impressed from an early date by the industry of Neolithic miners; refuse heaps from extraction and shaping can reach heights of up to 6m! At present we know nothing of the work of these specialist craftsmen, that is we are ignorant of the modes of production of the Bedoulien flint industries destined for export. The study of the organisation of production is, in our view, nevertheless fundamental for the understanding of Chassey culture societies, and is aimed at four areas:
* The nature and characterisation of productions: What are the modes of shaping identified in the case of the production of bladelets obtained from heated cores on the one hand, and, in the case of blades, knapped from non-heated cores on the other hand? Should a common initial stage for both these productions be envisaged, or should two distinct operating chains be considered right from the beginning of production? What are the conditions necessary for the heat treatment of preforms? Are the different types of production related to different workshops or does the same workshop produce different types of products?
* Spatial organisation of production and of distribution networks: How are the sites where preforms are produced organised? Are there, for example, areas dedicated to the different stages of the production process (extraction, shaping, heat treatment, finishing of shapes)? With regard to distribution networks, does the circulation of Bedoulien flint products operate directly, from production sites to consumer sites, or are there intermediary sites which could act as relay stages?
* Evolution in the organisation of productions: does the organisation of production remain constant during the whole of the Chassey culture period or can technical changes be identified?
* Social organisation of production: Who exploits the sources of raw materials? Is it one or several communities? What is the context of the production sites; in other words are the sites temporary settlements or permanent settlements linked to the exploitation of, for example, arable-pastoral land? In which case, what is the proportion of products for domestic use visible in these workshops? What know-how is discernible on these types of sites? Is it, for example, possible to identify products that bear witness to a phase of apprenticeship or are we dealing entirely with a high level of competence?
New production centres
During the last two years, new research has already provided some answers to the problems posed. New workshops dedicated to production before circulation have been discovered (Figure 4). The heat treatment of the preforms was identified from the presence of numerous heat flakes as well as wasters from heating. The site of Trois Termes (Gordes) is located in the immediate vicinity of surface outcrops of Bedoulien flint. The lithic assemblage was revealed by survey on a surface that does not extend further than 4[m.sup.2]. The homogeneous nature of the assemblage, its abundance (more than 2500 pieces) and its exceptional density suggests the presence of a pit levelled by recent ploughing. The production is dedicated exclusively to the manufacturing of heated preforms destined for pressure knapping into bladdets (Lea 2004b). Part of the shaping process was carried out before heat treatment, shown by the presence of many flakes with and without cortex that were not heated, and part was carried out after heat treatment, demonstrated by shaping flakes, again with and without cortex, which exhibit a shiny lower face. The process involved is: (1) shaping of the preform before heat treatment, (2) heating of the preform and (3) finishing of preforms after heat treatment. Amongst elements that relate to the end process after heat treatment, it is worth pointing out the exceptional presence of some one hundred and ninety flakes resulting from shaping the pressure plane. This reveals that a high number of preforms was made and testifies that the work was carried out in sequence by craftsmen. The preforms themselves, undoubtedly exported, are almost completely absent from the lithic assemblage. Only three, heated to a temperature too high to be used, were discarded on site. They may bear witness to the work of apprentices.
[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]
The lithic assemblage from the second site, at La Combe (Caromb), is remarkable. It consists of 77 cores, 4755 flakes and 1260 blade products: it is one of the largest assemblages known to this day in a Chassey culture context. This lithic assemblage comes entirely from pits dug into clay. There are two types of lithic production: a production of pressure-knapped bladelets from heated cores and a production of blades obtained by pressure knapping or indirect striking from non-heated cores. As on the site of Trois Termes, the on-site shaping phases are well represented by non-heated shaping flakes with or without cortex and by knapping flakes, with or without cortex, obtained after heating.
But at La Combe it was also noted that cores used to produce robust blades were subsequently treated with heat to provide a secondary core from which to strike blades. The process followed the sequence: shaping of the core destined to make blades--knapping of robust blades--heating of cores for blade production--modification of the core after heating-pressure knapping of bladelets (Figure 5). We are thus confronted with a very particular form of economy in knapping.
[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]
It appears that the procedures of manufacture therefore differ with the centre of production. Furthermore, the production sites of Trois Termes and La Combe are also, at least in part, consumer sites. In both cases, heated cores destined for bladelets were knapped on site, no doubt in response to daily needs. Current trace analyses should allow a better understanding of the modes of consumption of these industries on the production sites. Further, activities other than those linked with production are represented. Pottery (in large amounts at La Combe) and polished stone industries have been recovered on both sites. At La Combe, the presence of a large quantity of faunal remains and of grinding equipment suggests a certain permanence of settlement which is, however, difficult to estimate, and shows that the occupation of the site was also linked to the exploitation of arable and pastoral land. In any case, new excavations should allow, in future, a more precise identification of the apparently complex status of this settlement.
What distribution model applies to Bedoulien flint at an interregional level?
Observing the way in which the circulation of lithic products operates between the Alps and the Pyrenees reveal many discrepancies, already noted by Phillips, between sites that are well supplied with incoming products and sites that are almost entirely excluded from the networks (Lea 2002, in press). Yet these disparities cannot be explained by the distance from source, since it has been demonstrated that the quantities of Bedoulien flint are not inversely proportional to the distances covered (Briois et al. 1998). On the site of Auriac (Carcassonne, western Languedoc) for example, located some 350 km from the source, the lithic assemblage is composed of 98 per cent exogenous Bedoulien flint, in the shape of almost 900 pieces (Briois 1997: 317). This contradicts the 'down the line' model in which each community outside the zone of procurement acquires what it needs from a community nearer to the source (Renfrew 1984: 124), and the quantity steadily decreases. By contrast, when there are intermediaries operating, the distribution of the material shows an irregular curve, with prominent peaks showing redistribution and troughs when outside the limits of the networks (Renfrew 1984:125 and models 5 and 6 on figure 10, p. 120). This leads us to think of an indirect method of acquisition for Bedoulien flint during the Chassey culture period. In this context the hypothesis of central places for redistribution (Renfrew's 'Central-Place Redistribution', 1984: 25) should be considered in order to explain the presence of large lowland sites such as Auriac (Carcassonne) which are particularly rich in Bedoulien flint.
Although the criteria for identifying central redistribution places have still to be defined for the Chassey culture, the recent discovery of the site of Rocalibert (Piolenc) in the Vaucluse brings to light a possible candidate. This open site, located next to the river Rhone (which acts as a major axis of communication), shows an exceptional concentration of 80 heat-treated cores on only 2 [m.sup.2] in an archaeological layer 0.15 to 0.20m deep. These cores had been imported to Rocalibert already preformed, in contrast to what has been identified on the sites of Trois Termes and La Combe described previously: the shaping stages are indeed not present. Knapping of bladelets on site is well represented on the other hand (Figure 5). But the number of bladelets (n = 153) knapped on site is extremely small compared to that of the cores. The bladelet/core ratio gives an aberrant number of less than two bladelets per core, when production was around 4600 bladelets in total at an average rate of some 60 bladelets per core. We are of course merely referring to an approximate order of magnitude, based on experimental pressure knapping of Bedoulien flint cores (P.J. Texier, pers. comm.; Gallet 1998: 42). It is nevertheless important to note that this theoretical evaluation of the number of heat-treated bladelets knapped at Rocalibert is far greater than the numbers known up to now from all the best supplied Chassey culture consumer sites, such as Lattes in the Herault (2390 bladelets; Lea 2002: 95, 125), La Cabre in the Var (nearly 2000 bladelets; Lea 1997: 39) and Auriac sector P IV in the Aude (698 bladelets; Briois 1997:317). Rocalibert would seem to be the site of a massive production of bladelets obtained from imported heated cores, destined to be exported as blanks. Rocalibert would also occupy a singular position within distribution networks: it could be an intermediate relay site, between production and consumer sites. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that, on certain consumer sites, there are heated bladelets which do not seem to have been knapped on site, as is the case at Arene Candide (Liguria, Italy) in a Chassey culture context (Binder 1998a: 124, 125, 126). Furthermore, on most consumer sites far removed from the centres of production, there appears to be a contrary trend, that is a deficit in the number of cores in relation to the number of bladelets: this is the case at Lattes (2390 heated bladelets for only 11 cores; Lea 2002: 95, 125) or at Auriac Sector P IV (698 heated bladelets for 5 cores; Briois 1997:317). In this context, it is worth mentioning an older discovery on the oppidum of Sainte-Luce (Vercoiran, Drome) of a container made from a cattle long bone in which several flint bladelets were found (Gras 1976); this find gives us an example of the modes of transport and/or of storage of these rather fragile blanks.
Intra-territorial functional variability: techno-economic implications
The very great disparity in the quantities of Bedoulien flint on Chassey culture consumer sites noticed by Phillips is clearly to be linked with differences in status. For example, two sites in the valley of the Lez (Herault), Port-Ariane (Lattes) and Vert-Parc (Castelnau-le-Lez), exist almost completely outside the distribution networks of Bedoulien flint. In both cases, the peculiarities of the tool kit, obtained from locally available raw materials, consist almost exclusively of scrapers and points (Briois & Lea 2003). By contrast, on the site of La Cabre (Vat), the massive import of exogenous Bedoulien flint (several thousand pieces) is linked to the presence of a production workshop of hundreds of micro-borers on bladelets (Lea 2003). This production, oriented from the beginning of the manufacturing process towards the acquisition of this type of tool, reveals yet again, but in a different manner, the on-site occurrence of a specialist activities. This site, which incidentally is the site in southern France richest in imported Sardinian obsidian, seems to have played an important role within its landscape.
At the site of Montou (eastern Pyrenees), our analysis of the heated preforms has shown that the knapping of bladelets was itself also carried out at different times in different places (Figure 6; Lea in press). It is indeed only the end stage of full knapping that is represented at Montou: part was carried out elsewhere in the locality, a stage we call 'intermittent knapping'. The heat-treated preforms are kept with a view to knapping at different locations along the route in order to answer to specific needs. These preforms have the advantage that they can be transformed into artefacts with only light equipment (a mini crutch or shoulder crutch), as the heat treatment has made them easier to knap (Pelegrin 1988; Binder 1991). Thanks to pressure knapping, the heated preforms constitute a quantitatively important potential for making tools, given a relatively modest volume of raw material, which is therefore easily transported. In fact, a small bone compressor has been found at Montou. On this site we therefore witness a transfer of techniques as well as a transfer of raw material from one cultural context to another. The logic behind this intermittent knapping is in keeping with a logistical mobility of populations within the landscape.
[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]
These results demonstrate a complementarity, even an interdependence, not just between production sites and consumer sites, but between different kinds of consumer sites belonging to the same landscape. This modelling of socio-economic organisation based on lithic studies complements the earlier vision formulated by Phillips. Through observing major differences between sites--the quantity of artefacts, the spatial extent of sites, the estimated population densities (1972b)--Phillips came to reject a permanent site occupation model. She privileged the hypothesis of differential occupation according to status: long term occupation of extensive open sites/seasonal occupation of caves by only part of the communities (Phillips 1988: 287). According to Phillips, visits to caves represented a movement made by a section of a group, whereas the entire group met at periodic gatherings on the open sites. It is interesting to note that these theories have been taken up recently by researchers working on the Chassey culture of the Departement of Drome (Beeching 1991; Beeching et al. 2000). In this region, the complementarity between lowland sites such as Les Moulins at Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, La Roberte and Le Gournier at Chateauneuf-du-Rhone on the one hand, and upland sites, often used on a seasonal basis as shepherds' caves, on the other hand, has been revealed through studies of the fauna, the sedimentology, the land molluscs, the pottery and through pollen analysis. The remains of cattle and pig bones are found on the large lowland sites in contrast to the bones of ovicaprids found in the shepherds' caves of the uplands. In this model, the emphasis on pastoralism in the Chassey culture economy would be greater than that on cultivation, which nevertheless exists without doubt. Future tests for intermittent knapping of heated cores as well as for intermittent use of non-heated blades in the region of the Drome will be undertaken in order to verify the presence of these artefacts on upland sites used on a seasonal basis for animal grazing.
The distribution of the manufacturing stages of the Bedoulien flint industries of the Vaucluse offers a reflection of the socio-economic organisation of Chassey culture societies, in particular as regards the evolution of its crafts and the management of space. The methodological potential is enormous, since thousands of Chassey culture sites are being discovered in southern France and its margins. This potential encourages further exploration of the zone of distribution of Bedoulien flint in three directions: in the east (Italy, Switzerland), in the north (Rhone valley, Auvergne) and in the west (Spain). Our first results from the west show that the distribution affected cultural spheres other than those of the Chassey culture (Lea 2004a; in press). This is the case, for example, of the Montbolo culture, mainly defined on the basis of ceramics (Guilaine et al. 1974), which is partly contemporary with the southern Chassey culture and develops on the northern and southern flanks of the Pyrenees as well as in southern Catalonia. Montbolo cultural material is found with Bedoulien flint products at Montou. Likewise, Bedoulien flint has been found in the funerary deposits of the Sepulcres de Fossa (Catalonia, Spain) in a culture that is contemporary with the later phase of the Chassey culture. It takes the form of large cores that have hardly been knapped, and several have been heat treated (Gibaja & Terradas 2001; Gibaja 2002). According to our preliminary observations, some of these cores come from the Vaucluse workshops and would demonstrate, at the end of the distribution network, a remarkable change in the status of these industries. Thus, the analysis of the status of Bedoulien flint and its management in other cultures will open a window on the modes of transmission of know-how as well as on the organisation of societies.
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Received: 14 August 2003; Accepted: 13 April 2004; Revised: 12 May 2004
In tribute to Patricia Phillips.
Vanessa Lea, Attache temporaire d'Enseignement et de Recherche, Toulouse le Mirail; chercheur associe au Centre d'Etude Prehistoire Antiquite Moyen-Age UMR 6130 du CNRS--250 av. A. Einstein--Sophia--Antipolis 06560 Valbonne, France. (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Translated by Madeleine Hummler.…