Settlement over 6,000 years old found in France

3D reconstructie van het omheinde dorp Le Peu. Archeologische data: (© Archeovision Production 2018).

During excavations in France, archaeologists have found the remains of a settlement more than 6,000 year old belonging to the first builders of megalithic monuments in Europe.

During the Neolithicum, people in the west and centre of France built burial mounds and dolmens, but where they lived has always been a mystery for archaeologists. Now aerial photographs of the area around Le Peu (near Tusson in the southwest of France) have found evidence of an early settlement and the results have been published in the journal Antiquity.

The photos reveal a palisade surrounding various wooden buildings which were built in the 5th millennium BC. The wooden structures belong to an area which was inhabited  at the time of the neolithic monument builders. Archaeologists have identified three houses, each approximately 13 metres long, grouped together on the top of a small hill which looks out over the megalithic burial site of Tusson.

3D reconstruction of the enclosed village of Le Peu. Archaeological data: (© Archeovision Production 2018).

Analysis of the palaeosols (ground which has subsequently been buried by sedimentation, known as a fossil soil) found on the site, suggests that the site lay on a headland bordered by a morass. This natural defence was further strengthened by a palisade wall with two monumental structures guarding the entrance to the enclosure.

“The site reveals the existence of a unique monumental architecture, probably designed for defence, indicating increased social tensions in the Neolithicum,” according to Dr. Vincent Ard of the French National Centre for Scientific Research.

All of the buildings on the site were destroyed by fire around 4,400 BC, indicating that the defensive works in Le Peu were insufficient to protect the inhabitants in a time of conflict. This destruction actually contributed to the preservation of the site.

Researchers plan to examine the site further to throw more light on the lives of the people who until now have only been known by their stone monuments. It now seems that their dwelling places had a monumental dimension, something which has not previously been seen in prehistoric Atlantic communities.

The complete article (in English) can be found here.

There are many other prehistoric monuments in the area around Tusson. The map below shows a number of tumuli and several dolmens.

Text                 Harrie Wolters

Translation     Alun Harvey


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