domingo, 17 de agosto de 2014

The first farmers of France

French archaeologists conducted an extensive excavation on the site of Kervouric in Brittany (northwest France), prior to the commercial development of the land. Examination of an area measuring around ​​one hectare found that the first construction in the area dated back to around 4800 BCE.
This important period represents the so-called ‘Neolithic Revolution’ when hunter-gatherers were embracing a lifestyle based on agriculture and animal husbandry. This new style of living produced a sedentary population with the associated construction of longhouses, sometimes grouped in a hamlet or village.

The first farming communities

The excavated remains revealed the footprint of three large parallel houses, located on a hill terrace overlooking the valley. These houses are typical of the first farming communities, and comparable to those already recorded throughout northern France and indeed continental Europe when the concept of agriculture was spreading across the land. The “similarity” of these buildings indicates the existence of common architectural and cultural features in a wide geographical area in which western Brittany can now be included.
The long houses at Kervouric are trapezoidal in plan oriented east-west and 30 metres in length, rows of three posts supported a wooden frame which held up the roof; the external walls and internal divisions were of wattle and daub. On either side of the dwellings, large pits were dug to extract the clay used to build the walls; afterwards they were used as domestic midden pits. Nearby, several wells provided a regular supply of water.

A common culture in northern France

The midden pits produced a range of artefacts revealing daily life: ceramics, flint tools and knapping waste, polished axes and assorted ornaments. This material reflects the technical and cultural traditions of a people who had connections across a larger area. Some items, such as the shale bracelets show a definite link from Belgium (where the raw material and type of bracelet was produced) to the Breton peninsula.
The flint also reveals contacts and regular exchanges over a wide geographical area. Local coastal flint has been used in Neolithic Kervouric but also found are blades of better quality material from Normandy and the central region.

The Neolithic in Brittany

The geographical position of the settlement is interesting because it marks the extreme of the current Neolithisation referred to as Danubian (from it’s origin in the Danube basin) that ranged through northern Europe along an east-west route – as opposed to the southern Neolithic pathways, extending northwards through the Iberian peninsula.

Post excavation

Continuation of the field work will take place with the post excavation work, and will include a number of studies involving architectural interpretation of the buildings, radiometric dating, typological and functional studies of artefacts as well as important palaeoenvironmental analysis.
The data will characterise the everyday life and the environment these first Armorican farmers as well as providing vital evidence regarding the interactions, and cultural continuities with their Neolithic neighbours.

Source: Past Horizons:

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