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Launched percussion with heavy-duty tools in the Early Acheulian level (US4) of the Bois-de-Riquet site (Lézignan-la-Cèbe, Hérault, France).
Cyril Viallet  1, *  , Louis De Weyer  2@  , Jerome Yvorra, Joseba Rios-Garaizar  3@  , Deborah Barsky  4, 5@  , Cuartero Felipe  6, 7@  , Patricia Bello  8@  , Laurence Bourguignon  9@  
1 : Université de Perpignan Via-Domitia
UMR 7194 - Histoire Naturelle de l'Homme Préhistorique
2 : Archéologies et Sciences de l'Antiquité - équipe AnTET  (ArScAn - AnTET)  -  Website
CNRS : UMR7041, Université Paris X - Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
Maison René Ginouvès Boîte 32, 21, allée de l'université 92023 NANTERRE CEDEX -  France
3 : Centro Nacional para la Investigacion sobre la Evolucion Humana
4 : Institut de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social  (IPHES)  -  Website
Edificio W3, Campus Sescelades URV, Zona Educacional, 4, 43007 Tarragona, España -  Espagne
5 : Universitat Rovira i Virgili  (URV)  -  Website
Avinguda de Catalunya 35, 43002 Tarragona, Spain -  Espagne
6 : Fundación Atapuerca  (FA)  -  Website
Carretera de Logroño, 44 - 09198 Ibeas de Juarros (Burgos, España) -  Espagne
7 : Universidad Autónoma de Madrid  (UAM)  -  Website
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Campus de Cantoblanco, Calle Francisco Tomás y Valiente, 1, 28049 Madrid -  Espagne
9 : INRAP GSO Campagne - UMR 7041 ArScAn - AnTET
UMR 7041 ArScAn - AnTET
* : Corresponding author

The rich industry from level US4 of the Bois-de-Riquet archeological site (Lézignan-la-Cèbe, France), dated around 800 Ka, was made from of blocks and cobbles of basalt, quartz and aplite collected from the local environment. The assemblage contains, alongside products made by different stone reduction concepts, a range of heavy-duty tools manufactured specifically in basalt. This heavy toolkit results from various production chains representing either the selection and shaping of blocks with specific morphologies, or, the production of Large Flakes that were also shaped according to varying degrees of technical investment.

These tools have been the subject of a techno-morpho-functional analysis dividing them into five groups, based on the identification of sharp edges and flat surfaces with different orientations. The ergonomics and the mass of these tools suggest that they were employed for launched percussion activities using different gestures. In addition, several parts of the tools (active or prehensile) present removal negatives- often bifacial and alternate -which seem to result from uses according to this modality.

Specific experiments were set up to reproduce basalt tools using the same knapping methods and to use them for percussive activities in accordance to their different functional groups: bone fracturing and chopping fresh wood. Each activity was reproduced with 10 tools, while varying usage rates were counted in terms of number of blows carried. The resulting macro-traces were analyzed (i.e. position, repartition, distribution, initiation, terminaison and overlapping) using a stereoscopic microscope and results were interpreted in terms of the gestures employed, cutting edge type, material type and tool mass and results were compared with the archeological materials and other experimental references.

However, not all the stigmas observed on the archeological material were obtained in the experiments. Even though certain types of removal negatives observed on the archeological material were reproduced experimentally, thus supporting the hypothesis of the use of these tools for percussive activities, other kinds of negatives located on contact zones considered as prehensile, were not obtained during this first experiment. The use of these pieces as ‘sharp-edged anvils' or as part of an indirect launched percussion gesture is the main hypothesis to be developed in future experiments. The identification of tools linked to activities carried out with a launched percussion gesture in the context of the Early Acheulean, informs us about a mode of action on the material that is often underestimated. Also, our contribution underlines the importance of this type of gesture in the activities practiced by hominins at the beginning of the Middle Pleistocene.

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