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Gatzarria cave is located in the Basque area of France, in the Ossas-Suhare region, which is part of the Arbailles Massif (fig. The cave, which faces north-east, is located within an Urgonian limestone cliff at the foot of Mount Hargagne. 1 : racloir à base amincie en silex du flysch ; 2 : racloir double en silex de Chalosse ; 3 – 5 : racloirs en quartzite ; 6, 7 : denticulés en quartzite.

The main part of this small cavity is a 13m long, 4m wide, corridor and its maximum height was 2m from the top of the deposits (fig. The cave floor is sub-horizontal at the entrance, but rapidly angles downward towards the back of the cave (see implications for this below). Laplace until 1958, revealing Mousteroid and Aurignacian industries. In light of the risk of post-depositional disturbance, modern methods of study place much emphasis on ensuring the validity of archaeological layers.

Pieces were labelled according to their three-dimensional coordinates. We then go on to describe the samples chosen for dating, the laboratory methodology used on them and the results.Some of them (especially the smaller fraction and/or unmodified lithic artifacts, as well as most of the fauna) were not labelled to precise depth, but only to archaeological layer and square, sometimes to sub-square and Figure 1 - Map of southern France and northern Spain showing location of Gatzarria Cave (# 10) in the context of Aurignacian and Vasconian sites in the larger region. Examining the stratigraphic profile of the infilling (fig.The principal objective of this article is to present the first ever radiocarbon dates done on the Vasconian Mousterian, Proto-Aurignacian and Classic Aurignacian layers of this site. Consequently, at this stage of our own analysis, we cannot exclude the hypothesis that the Cjn1 assemblage could be, at least in part, a mix of Proto-Aurignacian assemblage Cjn2 and Classic Aurignacian assemblage Cbf.We undertook dating of animal bones from three levels, sampling from the Dating is the focus, but this could only be achieved reliably at this site by integrally linking sampling for dating with a consideration of the larger contextual information of the site; this, in order to avoid obtaining incorrect dates. For these reasons, as a precaution, we chose not to date Cjn1.After presenting the methodology of the dating used (section 4), we end the paper by placing our new AMS radiocarbon dating results (section 5) into the larger technological, chronological and human behavioural issues surrounding the late Mousterian and early Aurignacian periods (section 6). 1: Side-scraper with basal thinning, made from Flysch flint ; 2 : Double side-scraper in Chalosse flint ; 3 - 5 : Quartzite side-scrapers ; 6, 7 : Quartzite denticulates.

A detailed techno-economic re-evaluation of the industries of Gatzarria, a full re-evaluation of previous work and detailed comparisons with other industries, will constitute the subject of future articles focusing on those aspects. Figure 6 - Outillage retouché de la couche Cjr de Gatzarria.

It is also among the few sites to contain a stratified sequence of Proto-Aurignacian and Classic Aurignacian levels. It should be noted, though, that the assemblage from Cjn1 is smaller than Cjn2 and Cbci-Cbf (N = 1100) and that this ‘thin and sporadic layer, located in the upper part of the unit, is only occasionally seen as a thin line of hearths or, in other instances, as a horizon of minute traces of soot’ (Laplace 1966b - p. Furthermore, it is frequently mentioned in the excavation notebooks (kept in the MNP archives) that it is very difficult or impossible to see the contact surface between Cbf and Cjn1 visually in the stratigraphy.

Thus, it can help us to appreciate the chronological relationship between the Proto-Aurignacian and other Early Upper Palaeolithic or late Mousterian industries and contribute to evaluating the taxonomic link between them. Also, Cjn1 and Cjn2 are found in the same sedimentary unit (see below and Table 1) and are in contact with each other.

It is thus a key site for assessing the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition as well as the techno-typological and chronological relationship between Aurignacian industries. Blade-bladelet blanks thus dominate among the tools, representing 72.5 % of the transformed blanks (74 of 102, not including core tools such as carinated end-scrapers and burins).

As such, we decided to date animal bone samples by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon method (with ultrafiltration) from the Classic Aurignacian (Cbf), Proto-Aurignacian (Cjn2) and Vasconian Mousterian (Cjr) layers. The rest of the tools were made on non-standardized blanks obtained from the shaping and maintenance phases of blade-bladelet production.

It is interesting to note that there are very few pseudo-Levallois points. Retouched flake tools consist primarily of side-scrapers, followed by notches and denticulates (fig. Analyses are still underway regarding the Proto-Aurignacian layers, but preliminary results can already be presented. 2 and 3) fits completely within the definition and characterization of the Proto-Aurignacian.