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Gestures of Transition - Lithic chaînes opératoires During the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Perialpine Central Europe

English title Gestures of Transition - Lithic chaînes opératoires During the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Perialpine Central Europe
Applicant Della Casa Philippe
Number 140419
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Abteilung Ur- und Frühgeschichte Historisches Seminar Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Prehistory
Start/End 01.10.2012 - 30.09.2015
Approved amount 319'448.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Prehistory
Mineralogy
Social geography and ecology

Keywords (9)

Transition; Technology; Neolithic; Mesolithic; Lithic Industry; Chaîne Opératoire; Use Wear Analysis; Arconciel/La Souche; Lutter/St-Joseph

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

The transition to farming – i.e. the transition between the Mesolithic and Neolithic – is one of the most important and fascinating episodes in human history. This transition is often defined by a major change in subsistence strategy. The archaeological record, however, shows that many, if not all, aspects of human life were changed: economy, technology, religious and symbolic behaviour, social organisation. As the chipped stone artefacts are the most abundant category of material evidence from this period, this project will study changing behaviours as reflected in the acts, the gestures of production, use and discard of chipped stone artefacts during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in perialpine Central Europe.

Two PhD projects will study the lithic technology and microscopic use wear traces of the assemblages from Arconciel/La Souche, Switzerland and Lutter/St-Joseph, France, under supervision and in collaboration with a number of researchers at various institutes, under the lead of the Dept. of Prehistory, UZH. While the excavation of Lutter/St-Joseph was completed in 2011, the excavation of Arconciel/La Souche started in 2007 and is expected to continue to the end of 2012.

The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition has – in comparison to other regions of Europe – seen very little attention during the past decades in the perialpine areas of Switzerland and its immediate surroundings. This is due to a relative lack of well-stratified and well-dated late Mesolithic sites, and an apparent “archaeological gap” in much of Switzerland during the 6th millennium BC. The two study sites have been excavated to modern standards, and each one consists of a number of well observed and absolutely dated occupational phases dating to the 7th and 6th millennium BC. They represent an unique opportunity to study this important prehistoric period. Both sites also have well-preserved archaeobotanical and archaeozoological remains, and indeed are the subjects of multi-disciplinary research projects. 

It is possible to study with a single approach a number of assemblages spanning 2000 years from those two sites, crossing the traditional chronological division between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic, and thus also traversing the traditional methodological divide between students of the Mesolithic and the Neolithic. 

It is expected that the project will provide new insights into a continuous sequence of artefact production, use and discard, reflecting the changing decisional and behavioural processes of people living in a period of human history characterized by major, complex, and all-encompassing changes in their natural and social environments.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Die spätmesolithische und bronzezeitliche Fundstelle Hospental-Moos. Ein Einblick in das urgeschichtliche Urserntal
Auf der Maur Christian & Cornelissen Marcel (2014), Die spätmesolithische und bronzezeitliche Fundstelle Hospental-Moos. Ein Einblick in das urgeschichtliche Urserntal, in Historischer Verein Uri (ed.), Historischer Verein Uri, Altdorf, 37-83.
The End of the Mesolithic on the Swiss Plateau and the Northern Jurassian Massif
Bassin Laure (2014), The End of the Mesolithic on the Swiss Plateau and the Northern Jurassian Massif, in Techniques and Territories: New Insights into Mesolithic Cultures, Palethnology, 6, 142-146PUM, Toulouse.
Alpine raw materials and the production and use of scrapers at the Swiss Late Mesolithic site of Arconciel/La Souche
Cornelissen Marcel & Bassin Laure, Alpine raw materials and the production and use of scrapers at the Swiss Late Mesolithic site of Arconciel/La Souche, in MesoLife : A Mesolithic Perspective on Alpine and Neighbouring Territories, Preistoria Alpina, 47MUSE, Trento.
Arconciel/la Souche (Canton de Fribourg, Suisse) : un site exceptionnel du Second Mésolithique?
Mauvilly Michel, Arconciel/la Souche (Canton de Fribourg, Suisse) : un site exceptionnel du Second Mésolithique?, in Au cœur des gisements mésolithiques : Entre processus taphonomiques et données archéologiques, Annales littéraires de l’Université de BesançonALUB, Besançon.
Entre Mésolithique final et Néolithique dans deux abris sous roche du Plateau suisse. Les exemples d'Arconciel/La Souche et Villeneuve/La Baume
Spielman Julien & Mauvilly Michel, Entre Mésolithique final et Néolithique dans deux abris sous roche du Plateau suisse. Les exemples d'Arconciel/La Souche et Villeneuve/La Baume, in Actes du 31e Colloque Internéo 2013, INRAPINRAP, Paris.
Exploitation des roches siliceuses dans les zones d’altitude au Mésolithique : l’exemple de l’abri de Charmey/Les Arolles dans les Préalpes Fribourgeoises (CH)
Bassin Laure, Exploitation des roches siliceuses dans les zones d’altitude au Mésolithique : l’exemple de l’abri de Charmey/Les Arolles dans les Préalpes Fribourgeoises (CH), in Au cœur des gisements mésolithiques : Entre processus taphonomiques et données archéologiques, Annales littéraires de l’Université de BesançonALUB, Besançon.
Filling the gap. Recent Mesolithic discoveries in the central and south-eastern Swiss Alps
Cornelissen Marcel & Reitmaier Thomas, Filling the gap. Recent Mesolithic discoveries in the central and south-eastern Swiss Alps, in Quaternary International, 2016.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Service Archéologique de l'Etat de Fribourg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Universität Fribourg, Archaeometry Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Université de Strasbourg, UMR7044 Préhistoire France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Service Cantonal d'Archéologie Neuchâtel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Reading & CBRL Jordan Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Table-ronde internationale: Le Second Mésolithique des Alpes à l’Atlantique (VII°-V°millénaire) Talk given at a conference Trapèzes, fléchettes et autres pointes: évolution des armatures du Second Mésolithique au Néolithique ancien entre Jura et Préalpes suisses 03.11.2015 Strasbourg, France Cornelissen Marcel; Bassin Laure; Della Casa Philippe;
Meso 2015: The ninth international conference on the Mesolithic in Europe Talk given at a conference Late Mesolithic artefacts biographies. Integrating technological and use wear analyses of the chipped stone artefacts from Arconciel/La Souche (CH) and Lutter/St-Joseph (F) 14.09.2015 Belgrad, Serbien Cornelissen Marcel; Bassin Laure;
Mesolife International Conference: A Mesolithic perspective on Alpine and neighbouring territories Poster Alpine raw materials and the production and use of scrapers at the Swiss Late Mesolithic site of Arconciel/La Souche 11.06.2014 Selva di Cadore, Italy Cornelissen Marcel; Bassin Laure;
Master Seminar: Modalités d’occupation des territoires de montagne au Mésolithique: le cas des Alpes et des Pyrénées Individual talk Les occupations mésolithiques dans les Préalpes suisses: état de la question à travers l’exemple du canton de Fribourg 17.03.2014 Université de Toulouse, France Bassin Laure;
Table-ronde internationale: Au coeur des gisements mésolithiques: Entre processus taphonomiques et données archéologiques Talk given at a conference Exploitation des roches siliceuses dans les zones d’altitude au Mésolithique: l’exemple de l’abri de Charmey/Les Arolles dans les Préalpes Fribourgeoises (CH) 29.10.2013 Besançon, France Bassin Laure;
Master seminar in Archaeometry: chaînes opératoires Individual talk 1) Spätmesolithikum vom Schweizer Mittelland bis zum Nord Jura (6600-5000 v. Chr.): Traditionen, Innovationen und Mutationen; 2) Gestures of Transition: Gebrauch und Herstellung von Steinartefakten am Übergang Mesolithikum-Neolithikum 04.10.2013 Universität Zürich, Switzerland Bassin Laure; Cornelissen Marcel; Della Casa Philippe;
Table-ronde internationale: Des techniques aux territoires: nouveaux regards sur les cultures mésolithiques Poster 1) Le Second Mésolithique du Plateau suisse au Nord du Jura: Traditions, innovations et mutations dans les industries lithiques des derniers chasseurs-cueilleurs; 2) Hospental-Moos, a Late Mesolithic rock-crystal assemblage from a Swiss high altitude site 22.11.2012 Toulouse, France Bassin Laure; Cornelissen Marcel;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Dixieme et dernier ete de fouilles. La Souche, un site clé pour l'étude du mésolithique La Liberté Western Switzerland 2012
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Project blog: http://hazelnutrelations.wordpress.com Wordpress Western Switzerland International Italian-speaking Switzerland Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2012

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
111987 Leventina - prähistorische Siedlungslandschaft 01.04.2006 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The transition to farming - i.e. the transition between the Mesolithic and Neolithic - is one of the most important and fascinating episodes in human history. This transition is often defined by a major change in subsistence strategy. The archaeological record, however, shows that many, if not all, aspects of human life were changed: economy, technology, religious and symbolic behaviour, social organisation. As the chipped stone artefacts are the most abundant category of material evidence from this period, this project will study changing behaviours as reflected in the acts, the gestures of production, use and discard of chipped stone artefacts during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in perialpine Central Europe. Two PhD projects will study the lithic technology and microscopic use wear traces of the assemblages from Arconciel/La Souche, Switzerland and Lutter/St-Joseph, France, under supervision and in collaboration with a number of researchers at various institutes, under the lead of the Dept. of Prehistory, UZH. While the excavation of Lutter/St-Joseph was completed in 2011, the excavation of Arconciel/La Souche started in 2007 and is expected to continue for another few seasons.The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition has - in comparison to other regions of Europe - seen very little attention during the past decades in the perialpine areas of Switzerland and its immediate surroundings. This is due to a relative lack of well-stratified and well-dated late Mesolithic sites, and an apparent “archaeological gap” in much of Switzerland during the 6th millennium BC. The two study sites have been excavated to modern standards, and each one consists of a number of well observed and absolutely dated occupational phases dating to the 7th and 6th millennium BC. They represent an unique opportunity to study this important prehistoric period. Both sites also have well-preserved archaeobotanical and archaeozoological remains, and indeed are the subjects of multi-disciplinary research projects. It is possible to study with a single approach a number of assemblages spanning 2000 years from those two sites, crossing the traditional chronological division between the Mesolithic and the Neolithic, and thus also traversing the traditional methodological divide between students of the Mesolithic and the Neolithic. It is expected that the project will provide new insights into a continuous sequence of artefact production, use and discard, reflecting the changing decisional and behavioural processes of people living in a period of human history characterized by major, complex, and all-encompassing changes in their natural and social environments.
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