The lithic industries of the Upper Palaeolithic in the north of France.
by Jean-Pierre FAGNART


The loess region of the north of France, which provides the setting for this study, forms part of the extremity of the great plain of northern Europe.
The lithic industries studied in this volume have been furnished, for the most part, by recent excavations personally directed by the autor.
With rare exceptions, the Upper Palaeolithic habitations are in the open. They occur in the bottoms or on the slopes of the principal valleys as well as on Tertiary hillocks.
The northerly location of the region and the presence of industries of distinctive character have often impeded assimilation to the classic subdivisions of the Upper Palaeolithic. The first step has therefore been the identification and recognition of the cultural groups which succeeded each other in the much wider context of the Upper Palaeolithic of northwest Europe.
Human occupation of the region, linked to climatic developments, is essentially discontinuous. Early Upper Palaeolithic industries (Aurignacien, Upper Perigordian) are rare and in every case occur on small sites which suggest very short-lived use.
After the maximum cold of the Upper Weichselian, reoccupation of the area, as also of the great European plain, began around 13,000 BP in the Tardiglacial, during the Bölling oscillation.
Only the Magdalenian site of Hallines, dated to 16,000 BP, indicates a more precocious human presence in the area. At the present time, existence of the final Magdalenian seems unattested in the north of France and the sparse traces of industries encountered appear attribuable, rather, to the Shouldered Point Assemblages which include
the Creswellian and the Hamburgian.
The Alleröd oscillation sees the major development of the Federmesser groups which in the north of France exhibit quite considerable typological and statistical variability. Generally speaking, the region becomes far more densely populated.
At the very end of the Upper Palaeolithic (Dryas III ?), industries of an original nature, characterised by an abundance of straight-backed points with or without a truncated base, succeed the Federmesser groups.
Around 10,000 BP the Upper Palaeolithic sequence in the north of France comes to an end, with industries principally characterised by the production of large blades and by the presence of bruised blades and flakes, which always form an important part of the toolkit. This tradition is particulary well represented in the upper level of the site of Belloy-sur-Somme.
On the basis of the evidence at our disposai, understanding of the environment, habitations, way of life and activities of Homo sapiens sapiens has been extended. Investigations now in progress, requiring wide collaboration (refitting, use-wear and technological studies, analysis of the spatial distribution of remains, etc...), will eventually add to our present state of knowledge.