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Anthropogenic hydrological staging of an upper Palaeolithic carved shelter in Paris basin

Abstract : The Ségognole 3 carved shelter in Noisy-sur-Ecole (France) is known for its Palaeolithic-style panel engraved with two horses. They are arranged in file on either side of three slots, initially assumed to be natural, evoking a pelvic triangle. A thorough re-examination revealed the artificial character of the slots as well as numerous anthropogenic interventions to modify the hydrology of the shelter to drain water to the slot representing the vulva. The shelter has two galleries offset in height and separated by a thin wall. The upper gallery passes behind the engraved panel. It encompasses a basin that overhangs the pelvic triangle and often fills with rainwater. This disposition is the key part of the hydraulic system. Two particular interventions were made: (1) the slots at the front of the pelvic panel had been widened by percussion and grooving; and (2) the basin at the rear of the panel had been deepened by percussion, thus opening fractures on its floor. As a result, infiltration of meteoric water into the sandstone was encouraged and directed to the base of the pelvic triangle. An experiment demonstrated that filling the basin with 50 L of water caused the vulvar slot to drain after two days. The Palaeolithic people could potentially have operated the ‘vulvar outflow’ on demand and without weather constraints. It is likely that this setup had symbolic and ritual purposes and formed with the parietal arrangement an integral part of a complex and dynamic installation linked to the feminine sex symbol.
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Contributor : Médard Thiry Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 9:29:03 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 4, 2022 - 6:01:45 AM

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Médard Thiry, Alexandre Cantin, Boris Valentin, Lydia Zotkina, Eric Robert, et al.. Anthropogenic hydrological staging of an upper Palaeolithic carved shelter in Paris basin. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Elsevier, 2020, 33, pp.102567. ⟨10.1016/j.jasrep.2020.102567⟩. ⟨hal-02943569⟩



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