Bow and arrows were already used in France 54,000 years ago

A Franco-American study published on February 22 in “Science Advances” makes more than forty millennia go back the use of archery in Europe.

By Pierre Barthélémy

The age of cut stone tools and that of hunter-gatherers, such is the most common definition of the Paleolithic. Hunters, therefore, but with what equipment? The arsenal of this distant time has hast weapons like the spears (which, contrary to what their insinuated name, do not launch), jet weapons like sagaies and, finally, draft weapons, which Use mechanical propulsion as well -named propellant or the arc. The latter, attested in Africa, there are approximately seventy millennia, had so far left on the European continent only recent traces: the arch of the arc and the arrows of the German Stellmoor site have only 11,000 in 12,000 years. In a study published on Wednesday, February 22, in Science Advances, a Franco-American team has prehistoric archers in Europe a spectacular leap back, demonstrating the use of archery, in France, there are 54,000 years.

We must represent the context. We are in what is today the department of Drôme, in the Mandrin cave, which overlooks the Rhône and its valley. This natural corridor where cars and TGV once spent scrolling herds of horses and bison. At the time, it was a purely Neanderthal territory. At least that’s what we thought until February 2022, the date on which a study conducted by the same team announced that, if we went back to a stratum of 54 millennia, we discovered, tooth to the ‘Support, that the site had been invested by a group of Homo sapiens, for a few decades. In addition to the decisive tooth, the researchers had uncovered unprecedented cut stone tools, especially very small flint tips, which were found in any of the Neanderthal layers, whether they are previous or after this foray sapiens, the oldest of modern humans on the continent.

First signatory of the Science Advances article, Laure Metz, associate researcher at the Mediterranean Laboratory of Prehistory Europe Africa (CNRS/University of Aix-Marseille), analyzed nearly 900 of these points to do what specialists call traceology. “This is the study of the traces of wear on lithic tools,” she summarizes. Even if the flint is stone, “it is still fragile. Contact with the material generates kidnappings: very small bits of flint jump. By making experiments with stone tools manufactured by contemporary tailors, we build Databases with photos for each type of trace, which we compare with our archaeological objects. We can then say if the tool was used to cut meat, skin the animal, to scrape the skins, etc. “

You have 60.09% of this article to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.

/Media reports cited above.