Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 4681–4695 | Cite as

Conditioning of the raw materials on discoid exploitation strategies during the Early Middle Palaeolithic: the example of Payre level D (South-East France)

  • Sara DaffaraEmail author
  • Antony Borel
  • Marie-Hélène Moncel
Original Paper


In the last decades, a growing attention was paid toward the exploitation of other lithic raw materials than flint. In this context, the lithic assemblage of Payre level D, dated to the end of the MIS 6, offers the opportunity to make some considerations about the modalities of a discoid technology on various lithic raw materials. Payre is a very well-known Middle Palaeolithic site located on the right edge of the Middle Rhône valley. Three main archaeological levels attest an intense human frequentation of the site between the end of MIS 8 and the beginning of MIS 5. The rich faunal and lithic assemblages, recovered during systematic excavations from 1990 to 2002, have been deeply analysed for a precise understanding of the site formation processes and the modalities of the human occupation of the area. The exploitation of different local and semi-local raw materials made Payre an interesting case to observe how lithic resources with different petrographic characteristics were exploited by the Neanderthal groups. The present work aims to observe how the lithic raw materials have affected the discoid reduction sequences. This knapping method is widely attested in archaeological level D, the last large phase of human occupation at Payre. Among the different raw materials exploited (flint, vein quartz, quartzite, basalt and limestone), the discoid method is just applied on flint and vein quartz. The new technological analysis carried out focuses for the first time on the characteristics of the discoid technology present in level D and on the differences in discoid reduction sequences depending on the raw materials. The results indicate some expedients used to apply discoid reduction strategies on vein quartz and adapt this technology to the features of a coarse-grained stone. The use of such expedients testifies a large capability to manage not only the raw materials but also of the discoid method itself. Results allow to make considerations on some of the criteria proper to the technological definition of the method.


Discoid technology Vein quartz Middle Palaeolithic France 



This work has been possible thanks to the International Doctorate in Quaternary and Prehistory programme and the support of the Institut de Paléontologie Humaine (IPH). Sara Daffara’s Ph.D. research included a secondment grant to Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris financed by the project ‘Robes de pierre’, part of the POLYRE (‘L’Aventure Polychrome’) Chair of Excellence, supported by Sorbonne Universités.


The excavations at Payre have been financially supported by the French Ministry of Culture, Service Régional de l’Archéologie Rhône-Alpes.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di studi umanisticiUniversità degli studi di FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Associazione culturale 3P – Progetto preistoria PiemonteSan Mauro (TO)Italy
  3. 3.Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme Préhistorique (HNHP, UMR 7194), Sorbonne Universités, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, CNRSUniversité Perpignan Via DominicaParisFrance

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