Major lines of research:
Raw material (P. Simon)
The study of the origin of the materials used by prehistoric man is relatively recent and can explain some of their behaviors. Typology and technology were studied but an underestimated parameter was the nature of the raw material and its origin. Paleolithic human groups had a perfect knowledge of their hunting and territory.
Thus, and in order to fully appreciate their mobility, the use of data needed petrographic and geological knowledge of the areas. The Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology has very important collections that can help understand human movement.
The material used is mainly flint, jasper and quartzite. Flint, of sedimentary origin, appears as circumscribed nodules in monotonous limestone or calcareous marl. The various regional occurrences of flint inevitably lead to the development of a baseline database.
This work has been undertaken over the past ten years by the Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology. The establishment of a reference lithotheca is never finished but we can consider today with over 250 sites listed and nearly 4000 specimens preserved in the Museum that our work has well advanced. Currently, we are implementing a mapping sites associated with the database through a geographic information system or GIS, to visualize the relationships between habitat sites and deposits and thus to assess areas dissemination of raw materials.
Study of collections (E.Rossoni-Notter)
The collections inventory project registers the archaeological objects. Research analysis are undertaken and published.
On request, collections, library and lithotheca can be opened to researchers and institutes, as well as PhD students.
We can define the stone industry as all manufactured objects resulting from a specific action. More commonly, we can say that flaking siliceous rocks using a protocol called « operating system » led to the manufacture of tools and weapons.
These rocks have to be hard, homogeneous, fine-grained or without grains. The fracture is often « conchoidal » (fig. 1). Shock or predetermined pressure allows a controlled detachment.
A number of rocks offer these features; among them, mainly siliceous sedimentary and certain volcanic rocks.