Archaeological Signatures of Hunting Activities
Applied to Comparisons of Mousterian, Chatelperronian
and Aurignacian Industries in the Pyrenees:
The Nature of Hunting Tools and Site Functions
François BACHELLERIE, François BON, Marianne DESCHAMPS,
Laura EIZENBERG, Dominique HENRY-GAMBIER, Vincent MOURRE,
Christian NORMAND, Jacques PELEGRIN, Jérôme PRIMAULT,
René SCANDIUZZI, Céline THIÉBAUT
Comparisons of lithic industries originating from a sample of sites in the Pyrenees and their Vasco-Cantabrian extension show the existence of different degrees of functional specialization, and that this specialization was more pronounced in Chatelperronian contexts than in Aurignacian ones. In the Chatelperronian, specialized sites where hunting activities took a major place (“hunting camps”) are correlated to consisted of occupations that had diverse functions, while in the Aurignacian there was only one site type: multifunctional installations where hunting was an important activity, but not the only one. To correctly interpret these results, however, we must consider the difficulty of comparing the functional attributes of industries with very different weapon systems; it is necessary to take into account the relative visibility, from one assemblage to another, of hunting weapons armed with apical lithic points (Chatelperronian model) as opposed to instruments armed with antler or wood points, only some of which had retouched or non retouched bladelets attached to them (Early Aurignacian model).
This methodological discussion of the archaeological attributes of hunting activities depending on the contexts and the industries considered becomes even more pertinent when we go back even further in time to compare these data with those the Late Mousterian in this same region.
That being, the combination of two criteria – the nature of hunting equipment and the probable specialization of some sites in relation to this activity – allows us to address questions concerning the reasons for this apparent contrast between the Chatelperronian and the cultures by which it is preceded and followed. This approach can lead to new research perspectives on the evolution of human behavior at the time of change from the Middle to Upper Paleolithic.