Fieldwork in Brittany, Menez Dregan

LaMP has strong links with the French mainland where researcher Anne-Lyse Ravon is researching human occupation and hominin dispersal in north-western Europe, especially in the Armorican Massif. Mainly,this study focuses on the lithic industry from the Lower Palaeolithic sites in this region. Since 2009, Anne-Lyse has been leading the excavations on the Lower Palaeolithic site of Menez-Dregan I (Plouhinec, Finistère, Brittany).

Menez-Dregan I is a Lower Palaeolithic site situated at Plouhinec, Finistère, in Brittany. The site is located in the Audierne bay, at the westernmost tip of Brittany, and has been undergoing excavation since 1991. It is an ancient marine cave whose roof has gradually collapsed and thus partly protected the site from erosion. In the current state of research, the stratigraphy within Menez-Dregan displays an alternating sequence of pre-Neanderthal occupation layers and marine deposits, likely between OIS 13 and OIS 7.

The fauna has not preserved due to the acidic environment, leaving only the lithic industry to show how the human groups who settled at the site lived and, it is worth noting, mastered fire lighting and or control at a very early date (late MIS 13 or early MIS 12).

The lithic industry of the site of Menez-Dregan has been attributed to the “Colombanian group” by J.-L. Monnier on the basis of its composition: predominance of cobble tools among the heavy-duty tools, retouched light-duty tools on flake-supports comprising mostly denticulates and notches, and knapping method akin to the “Clactonian” (wide butts rarely faceted, prominent bulbs, wide open flaking angles). The Levallois method is lacking, handaxes are absent or extremely rare, and there are very few scrapers. The Colombanian proves to be a facies of the Lower Paleolithic, essentially localised on the south armorican shoreline, between Crozon and Noirmoutier, contemporary with classic European Acheulean but typologically distinct (Monnier, 1996). The “Colombanian group” is composed of the sites of St Colomban, la Croix Audran, the island of Groix, Menez-Dregan, Primelin, and Le Bois-de-la-Chaize, plus a large number of isolated finds all along the shore line, and is the subject of a new study that focuses mainly on the Lower Palaeolithic site of Menez-Dregan I (Ravon, in progress).

MD

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