Sites & cities that bear the name of Grotte du Placard

Grotte du Placard

Today in : France
First trace of activity : ca. 33,000 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 13,000 B.C.E

Description : The Grotte du Placard is an ornate cave located on the territory of the town of Vilhonneur , in Charente , about thirty km east of Angoulême . The Placard cave was discovered by Jean Fermond, who (roughly) excavated it in the years 1868-1880. Abbé Bourgeois and Abbé Delaunay also searched it in the 1870s 3 ; Father Delaunay continues alone after the death of Father Bourgeois 4 . Then comes Arthur de Maret who excavated it more in depth n 1 from 1877 to 1888 and discovered there from the Neolithic era , four Magdalenian levels , some of which had already been recognized by Fermond, two Solutrean levels and a Mousterian level , the latter two then unknown 5 . The cave yielded some Neanderthal bones and many bones of Homo sapiens(Upper Paleolithic). Some of these bones (jawbones, skulls) bear incisions, traces of ocher and burns, demonstrating the concept of funerary practices in the Paleolithic. What was called “the Aurignacian battle” followed, a very agitated debate over several decades, so much the idea was contrary to the way of thinking of the time 6 . The French Association for the Advancement of Sciences funded excavations in 1902. It has yielded more than ten levels from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic , in particular from the Magdalenian and the Solutrean . The Upper Paleolithic subdivisions presented by Abbé Henri Breuil at the Geneva Congress of 1912 are partly based on the results of the excavations of the Placard 7 cave . Of the Magdalenian of the cave, Breuil says: "There are few sites where the oldest Magdalenian is better represented than in Placard, and developed in distinct layers giving the idea of ​​the long development of this period 8 ". The excavations were resumed in 1958 by Abbot Jean Roche at the request of Professor Jean Piveteau , then again from 1987 by Louis Duport , departmental archaeologist of Charente, following the discovery of a reindeer web bearing engravings of bovids. It was he who, by clearing the side corridor again of the accumulated excavation there, in 1990 discovered parietal engravings 9 . The research was then continued under the joint responsibility of Jean Clottes and Louis Duport. Stratigraphy According to the results of the excavations from 1877 to 1902, it was distinguished: - an upper level containing furniture from the historic period and from the Bronze Age , on which hardly any information is available; - a level of the Magdalenian 1.50 m thick which is subdivided into four layers; - a Solutrean level 1 m thick; - a Mousterian level 1.50 m thick. The stratigraphy recorded by Father Roche outside the cave includes the following sequence: - Middle Magdalenian ; - Ancient Magdalenian ; - Denticulate Mousterian ; - Mousterian 1 . Abbé Roche, while searching the corridor, noted the following stratigraphy: - Magdalenian IV mixed with more recent elements on 10 cm 2 ; - layer of small limestone blocks 10 ; - Magdalenian IVa and IIIb with many chisels, scrapers, slats and other objects on 0.20 m 10 ; - Middle Magdalenian on 17 levels 11 ; - floor of the cave, a lapiaz formed by parallel blocks 12 . Ancient fauna The Placard cave is one of the Charentais sites that yielded Saiga antelope ( Saiga tatarica ) 13 among a very varied fauna. Human remains A fragment of the jawbone of a child known to be Neanderthal has disappeared. A child's tooth discovered in 1960 was associated with a Mousterian industry (Middle Paleolithic). Numerous bones of Homo sapiens dating from the Solutrean ( Upper Paleolithic ) have been found, including skulls shaped in sections 1 . Wall art A frieze about 5 meters long was unearthed in 1990 on the walls buried part under old excavation, part in the Solutrean layer . The designs are made by very fine incisions. Many horses, deer, ibex, reindeer, a chamois, a saiga antelope, bovids, an aurochs and two bison heads sticking out their tongues are represented there 1 . A dozen signs in braces or "aviformes" are also present. They are identical to those discovered in the Pech Merle and Cougnac caves . Similar signs were found in the Cosquer cave in Marseille, 500 km 14 . This wide diffusion indicates a symbolic mode of expression widely diffused over very long distances during the Solutrean. The sifting of the cuttings made it possible to find 640 engraved collapse blocks, which would show that a large part of the walls were engraved 15 . As early as 1942, Raoul Daniel had studied the limestone platelets from the crumbling of the vault, including a coating of red ocher and engraved with reindeer, one engraved with a deer 16 . This engraved set dates back to around 20,000 years before the present ( carbon 14 dating : 19,708 +/- 250 years AD), ie to the Solutrean period. The signs found now bear the name of "Placard-type signs", after the name proposed by the prehistorian Jean Clottes . Tools and objects The lithic tools of the Middle Paleolithic belong to the Mousterian ( Mousterian of the Quina type and Mousterian with denticulates ) .

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