Unprecedented prehistoric monument found in France

A prehistoric monument formed by two horseshoe-shaped enclosures, one of them with an opening at the bottom, interlocked with a central circular enclosure has been discovered in Marliens, 12 miles east of Dijon. The horseshoe-and-circle design, which seen from above looks like a bow tie with one loop unfastened, is unprecedented on the archaeological record. Radiocarbon dating results have not come in yet, but only cut flint objects were found in the ditches, which suggests the monument dates to the Neolithic period (ca. 7,000-2,000 B.C.).

Archaeologists from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) excavated 15 acres of the site to salvage any archaeological material before the extension of a nearby gravel pit. They found the monument with a layer of gravel in the two side enclosures that indicates there was a palisade originally, now gone. The stratigraphy of the site points to the three enclosures having been built at the same time.

Artifacts found just under the topsoil date to the Bell Beaker period (Early Bronze Age, ca. 2800–1800 B.C.). Among them are a bundle of seven flint arrowheads, two archer’s wrist braces, a flint lighter and a copper alloy dagger. Iron oxide residue from fire lighting was found on one of the braces. This is the full gear of an archer, and such kits are typically found in graves, but in this case no surviving evidence of a burial has been found.

Several pits from the Early Bronze Age are the only remaining elements of a settlement from the period. Thick clay layers at the bottom suggest the pits may have been wells, and analysis of pollen, seeds, fruits and other plant materials preserved in the clay may answer questions about the landscape and human usage of the site.

The next stage of occupation dates to the Middle Bronze Age, between 1500 and 1300 B.C. It is a necropolis consisting of five circular enclosures, four open and one closed, covering an area of ​​1.5 acres. No inhumed remains survived the high acidity of the soil, but a smattering of cremation burial and pyre remains were found in the largest of the open enclosures. Five copper alloy pins and a necklaces of 40 amber beads were found in the ditch of this enclosure. Ceramic fragments found in the other four enclosures confirm the date range.

The last evidence of occupation is a second necropolis dating to the Early Iron Age. It is small with only six cremation urn burials found thus far. The urns each contained a single bone deposit, and some also held funerary offerings of jewelry.

One thought on “Unprecedented prehistoric monument found in France

  1. Those two iron rectangular plates have countersunk holes, presumably to give a smooth finish when the arrow string passes over. How did they produce countersunk holes, and what did they use to attach the plates that required these types of hole? I would have used a copper/bronze rivet, but would they or were these plates just spare or for sale?

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