Prehistoric France is the period in the human occupation (including early hominins) of the geographical area covered by present-day
Francewhich extended through prehistoryand ended in the Iron Agewith the Celtic " La Tène culture".
Olduwan( Abbevillian) and Acheuleansites from early or non-modern (transitional) " Hominini" species, most notably " Homo erectus" and " Homo heidelbergensis". Cave sites were exploited for habitation, but the hunter-gatherersof the Palaeolithic also possibly built shelters such as those identified in connection with Acheulean tools at Grotte du Lazaretand Terra Amatanear Nicein France.
Neanderthals, the earliest "Homo sapiens" to occupy Europe, are thought to have arrived there around 300,000 BC, but seem to have died out by about by 30,000 BC, presumably unable to compete with modern humans during a period of cold weather. Numerous Neanderthal, or " Mousterian", artifacts (named after the type siteof Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogneregion of France) have been found from this period, some using the " Levallois technique", a distinctive type of flint knapping developed by hominids during the Lower Palaeolithicbut most commonly associated with the Neanderthal industries of the Middle Palaeolithic.
The earliest modern humans —
Cro-Magnons — entered Europe (including France) around 40,000 years ago during a long interglacialperiod of particularly mild climate, when Europe was relatively warm, and food was plentiful. When they arrived in Europe, they brought with them sculpture, engraving, painting, body ornamentation, music and the painstaking decoration of utilitarian objects. Some of the oldest works of art in the world, such as the cave paintings at Lascauxin southern France, are datable to shortly after this migration.
European Palaeolithic cultures are divided into several chronological subgroups (the names are all based on French
type sites, principally in the Dordogneregion):
Aurignacian(c. 34,000 - 23,000 BP) - responsible for Venus figurines, cave paintings at the Chauvet Cave(continued during the Gravettian period).
Périgordian(c. 35,000 - 20,000 BP) - use of this term is debated (the term implies that the following subperiods represent a continuous tradition).
Châtelperronian(c. 35,000 - 29,000 BP) - culture derived from the earlier, Neanderthal, Mousterian industry as it made use of Levalloiscores and represents the period when Neanderthals and modern humans occupied Europe together.
Gravettian(c. 28,000 - 22,000 BP) - responsible for Venus figurines, cave paintings at the Cosquer Cave.
Solutrean(c. 21,000 - 17,000 BP)
Magdalenian(c. 18,000 - 10,000 BP) - thought to be responsible for the cave paintings at Pech Merle(in the Lot in Languedoc, dating back to 16,000 B.C.), Lascaux(located near the village of Montignac, in the Dordogne, dating back to somewhere between 13,000 and 15,000 B.C., and perhaps as far back as 25,000 B.C.) and the Trois-Frères cave.
Experts sometimes refer to the "
Franco-Cantabrian region" to describe this densely populated region of southern France and northern Spain in the late Palaeolithic.
From the Paleolithic to the
Mesolithic, the Magdalenian culture evolved. In South-West France and Spain, one finds the Azilianculture which co-existed with similar early Mesolithic European cultures such as the Tjongerianof Northern and the Swiderian of North-Eastern Europe. The Azilian culture was followed by the Sauveterrianin Southern France and Switzerland, the Tardenoisianin Northern France, the Maglemosianin Northern Europe.
Archeologists are unsure whether Western Europe saw a Mesolithic immigration. If
Neolithicimmigrants to Europe were indeed Indo-European, then populations speaking non-Indo-European languages are obvious candidates for Mesolithic remnants. The Vascons( Basques) of the Pyreneespresent the strongest case, since their language is related to none other in the world, and the Basque population has a unique genetic profile. Some archeologists however situate the arrival of Vascons in the Neolithic or the Bronze Age.
Neolithic-- which lasted, in Northern Europe (see Neolithic Europe), around 3000 years (ca. 4500 BC–1700 BC) and which is characterised by the adoption of agriculture(the so-called Neolithic Revolution), the development of potteryand more complex, larger settlements -- there was an expansion of peoples from southwest Asia into Europe; this diffusion across Europe, from the Aegean to Britain, took about 2,500 years (6500 BC - 4000 BC). Many archaeologists believe that this expansion, marking the eclipse of Mesolithic culture, coincided with the introduction of Indo-European speakers, whereas many linguists prefer to see Indo-European languagesintroduced during the succeeding Bronze Age. By this latter theory (the Kurgan hypothesis), Neolithic peoples in Europe are called " Pre-Indo-Europeans" or "Old Europe".
Many European Neolithic groups share basic characteristics, such as living in small-scale family-based communities, subsisting on domestic plants and animals supplemented with the collection of wild plant foods and with hunting, and producing hand-made pottery (that is made without the
potter's wheel). Archeological sites from the Neolithic in France include artifacts from the Linear Pottery culture(ca. 5500-4500 BC), the Rössen culture(ca. 4500—4000 B.C.), and the Chasséen culture(4,500 - 2,500 BC; named after Chassey-le-Campin Saône-et-Loire), the name given to the late Neolithic pre- Beaker culturethat spread throughout the plains and plateaux of France, including the Seinebasin and the upper Loirevalleys.
"Armorican" (Brittany) and Northern French neolithic culture is based on traditions of the
Linear Pottery cultureor "Limburg pottery" in association with the La Hoguetteculture.
It is most likely from the Neolithic that date the
megalithic(large stone) monuments, such as the dolmens, menhirs, stone circles and chamber tombs, found throughout France, the largest selection of which are in the Brittanyand Auvergne regions. The most famous of these are the Carnac stones(ca. 3300 BC, but may date to as old as 4500 BC) and the stones at Saint-Sulpice-de-Faleyrens.
The Copper Age
Chalcolithic("Copper Age") a transitional age from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age, France shows evidence of the Seine-Oise-Marne culture and the Beaker culture.
Seine-Oise-Marne cultureor "SOM culture" (ca. 3100 BC to 2400 BC) is the name given by archaeologists to the final culture of the Neolithicin Northern France around the Oise Riverand Marne River. It is most famous for its gallery grave megalithic tombs which incorporate a port-hole slabseparating the entrance from the main burial chamber. In the chalkvalley of the Marne Riverrock-cut tombs were dug to a similar design.
Beginning about 2600 BCE the
Artenacian culture, participant of the larger European Megalithic Culturedeveloped in Dordogne, possibly as a reaction to the advance of Danubian peoples (such as SOM) over Western France. Armed with typical arrows, they took over all Atlantic France and Belgium by 2400 BCE, establishing a stable border with Indo-Europeans( Corded Ware) near the Rhin that would remain stable for more than a millennium.
In the Southeast, several groups whose culture had evolved from
Chasséen culturealso built megaliths.
Beaker culture(ca. 2800 – 1900 B.C.) is a wide phenomenon that expanded over most of France, excluding the Massif Centralwithout significatively altering the pre-existing cultures.
The Bronze Age
Bronze agearcheological cultures in France include the transitional Beaker culture(ca. 2800 – 1900 B.C.), the Tumulus culture(ca. 1600-1200 B.C.) and Urnfield culture(ca. 1300-800 B.C.). Bronze Age sites in Brittany are believed to have grown out of Beaker roots, with some Wessex cultureand Unetice cultureinfluence. Some scholars think that the Urnfield culture represents an origin for the Celts as a distinct cultural branch of the Indo-European family (see Proto-Celtic). This culture was preeminent in central Europe during the late Bronze Age; the Urnfield period saw a dramatic increase in population in the region, probably due to innovations in technology and agricultural practices.
Some archeologists date the arrival of several non-Indo-European peoples to this period, including the
Iberiansin southern France and Spain, the Ligureson the Mediterranean coast, and the Vascons( Basques) in southwest France and Spain.
The Iron Age
The spread of iron-working led to the development of the
Hallstatt culture(ca. 700 to 500 BC) directly from the Urnfield. Proto-Celtic, the latest common ancestor of all known Celtic languages, is considered by this school of thought to have been spoken at the time of the late Urnfield or early Hallstatt cultures, in the early first millennium BC.
The Hallstatt culture was succeeded by the
La Tène culture, which developed out of the Hallstatt culture without any definite cultural break, under the impetus of considerable Mediterranean influence from Greek, and later Etruscan civilizations. The La Tène culture developed and flourished during the late Iron Age (from 450 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC) in eastern France, Switzerland, Austria, southwest Germany, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. Farther to the north extended the contemporary Pre-Roman Iron Ageculture of Northern Germany and Scandinavia.
Greeksand Phoenicianssettled outposts like Marseillein this period (ca. 600 BC).
By the second century BC, Celtic France was called
Gaulby the Romans, the people to the north (in what is present-day Belgium) were called Belgae(scholars believe this may represent a mixture of Celtic and Germanic elements) and the peoples of the south-west of France were called the Aquitaniby the Romans, and may have been Celtiberiansor Vascons.
Prehistoric and Iron Age France - all dates are BC
*1,800,000: Appearance of stone tools (possibly by "
Homo erectus") in France ( Chilhac, Haute-Loire).
*900,000: Beginning of Günz glaciation.
*700,000: Oldest shaped tools in Brittany.
*600,000: Beginning of Günz-Mindel interglacial. Appearance of "
Homo heidelbergensis" in Europe.
*450,000: "Tautavel man" (possibly
*410,000: Beginning of Mindel glaciation (Mindel I).
Abbevillianculture, taming of fire.
*400,000: Mindel II. Shards of "proto-Levallois" tools.
Terra Amata( Nice).
*300,000: Beginning of Mindel-Riss interglacial.
*300,000: Appearance of
Neanderthals in Europe.
*200,000: Beginning of Riss glaciation (Riss I).
*190,000: Riss II.
*140,000: Riss III.
*130,000: Beginning of Riss-Würm interglacial.
*70,000: Beginning of Würm glaciation.
*62,000: Würm I/II interglacial.
*57,000: Brorup interglacial.
*55,000: Würm II.
*40,000: Laufen interglacial. Arrival of first modern humans (
Cro-Magnons) in Europe.
*35,000: Würm IIIa.
Mask of la Roche-Cotard, a Mousterian artefact.
*30,000: First statuettes and engravings in France. Disappearance of
*28,000: Arcy interglacial.
*27,500: Würm IIIb.
*25,000: Paudorf interglacial.
*23,000: Würm IIIc.
*18,000: End of Würm glaciation.
*18,692: Beginning of
*16,000: Cold spell (
*14,500: Middle Magdalenian.
*14,100: Cold spell (
*13,500: Upper Magdalenian.
*10,300: Cold spell (
*9500: Beginning of
*7000: Domestication of the
*6900: Domestication of the
*4800: Appearance of
Linear Pottery culturein France.
*4650: Oldest neolithic village in France,
Courthézonin the Vaucluse.
Chasséen culturevillage of Bercy.
*3610: Appearance of first
megaliths in France.
Chasséen culturevillage of Saint-Michel du Touchnear Toulouse.
*3430: Appearance of
Rössen cultureat Baume de Gonvillain Haute-Saône.
*3250: Expansion of
Chasséen culturein the south of France, from the Lotto the Vaucluse.
Chasséen culturein Calvados.
Chasséen culturein Pas-de-Calais.
*2450: End of
Chasséen culturein Eure-et-Loir.
*2400: End of
Chasséen culturein Saint-Mitre( Alpes-de-Haute-Provence).
*2300: Village at
Ponteau( Provence) of the Beaker culture.
*1800: Beginning of Bronze Age in France.
*800: Appearance in France, via the
Rhineand the Moselle, and expanding into Champagne and Bourgogneof the Urnfield culture.
*725: Beginning of
*680: Founding of
Antibes, the first Greek colony in France.
*600: Founding of "Massalia" (future
Marseille) by the Greeksfrom the Ionian city of Phocaea[http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Places/Place/411375] .
Celts of la Tèneappear in Champagne. They expand to the Garonne, forming what will come to be called the Gaulcivilization.
Celtic chief Brennus sacks Rome.
*121: Roman occupation of
*118: Founding of the Roman colony "Narbo Martius" (future
*58-51: Conquest of
Gaulby Julius Caesar.
Timeline of glaciation
Prehistory of Brittany
* [http://www.musee-antiquitesnationales.fr/ French National Museum of Antiquities in the Château of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (in French)]
* [http://www.culture.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/ Lascaux Cave] Official Lascaux Web site, from the French Ministry of Culture.
* [http://www.jqjacobs.net/rock_art/dawn.html The Dawn of Rock Art] . An article summarizing the earliest known rock art, with a focus on recently discovered painted caves in Europe,
Grotto Cosquerand Grotto Chauvet.
* [http://www.edunet.ch/classes/marin/la_tene.htm La Tène site] : brief text, illustrations (in French)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Prehistoric Europe — refers to prehistorical period of the history of Europe. Before the Upper Paleolithic, in the period of ca. 1 million to 40,000 years ago, Europe was populated by Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis .The Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic, from… … Wikipedia
Prehistoric Britain — was a period in the human occupation of Great Britain that was the later part of prehistory, conventionally ending with the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, though some historical information is available about Britain before this. The period… … Wikipedia
Prehistoric Park — est une série télévisée docu fiction britannique réalisée par Karen Kelly, Sid Bennett et Matthew Thompson, diffusée au Royaume Uni sur ITV1 le 22 juillet 2006 et sur Animal Planet le 29 octobre 2006. Puis en France sur M6 le 28 décembre 2006 et… … Wikipédia en Français
Prehistoric art — Ceramic stirrup spout vessel representing a crustacean. Moche Culture, Peru, 100 BCE to 700 CE … Wikipedia
Prehistoric Iberia — The Prehistory of the Iberian peninsula begins with the arrival of the first hominins c.900,000 Before Present (BP) and ends with the Punic Wars, when the territory enters the domains of written history. In this long period, some of its most… … Wikipedia
France — /frans, frahns/; Fr. /frddahonns/, n. 1. Anatole /ann nann tawl /, (Jacques Anatole Thibault), 1844 1924, French novelist and essayist: Nobel prize 1921. 2. a republic in W Europe. 58,470,421; 212,736 sq. mi. (550,985 sq. km). Cap.: Paris. 3.… … Universalium
Prehistoric religion — History of religions founding figures Anthropology Comparative religion Development Neurotheology / God gene Origins Psychology Prehistoric Ancien … Wikipedia
Prehistoric archaeology — History is the study of the past using written records. Archaeology can also be used to study the past alongside history. Prehistoric archaeology is the study of the past before historical records began.In Western Europe the prehistoric period… … Wikipedia
Prehistoric Ireland — The last Ice Age came to an end in Ireland about 10,000 BC. Human occupation of Ireland began about 7000 BC and the earliest humans are believed to have migrated from Britain to Ireland. Ireland at the end of the last Ice Age The most recent… … Wikipedia
PREHISTORIC ARCHITECTURE — The earliest known architecture in human history is found in the prehistoric period called the Upper Paleolithic Age, which dates from around 40,000 BC to around 7000 BC. While earlier humans lived in Africa and Asia, the receding Ice Age and… … Historical Dictionary of Architecture