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Les vestiges d’habitat du Néolithique ancien de Quimper, Kervouyec (Finistère)

Abstract : Until fairly recently, study of the Neolithic in Brittany was principally dedicated to the megalithic monuments due to the numerous sites there. Gradually, research was oriented towards settlement remains, notably through the development of rescue archaeology in the 1980s. This is particularly the case for the Early Neolithic and, for the first time in 1996, an important excavation was carried out on a house dated to the beginning of the fifth millennium in Le Haut-Mée, near Fougères (north-eastern Brittany). A few years later, in 2004, a second site was excavated at Betton, near Rennes, and recently, in 2014, a third one in Lannion not far from the north-western coast. These main settlements are complemented by numerous deposits of archaeological artefacts located by field surveys. However, for the whole region, less than ten sites dating from the beginning of the Neolithic have been discovered and the remains of Quimper Kervouyec, despite their partial preservation, demonstrate that neolithisation had reached the most western point of the Breton peninsula by the early fifth millennium. Prior to work on a road to bypass the town of Quimper (south-western Brittany), a small group of archaeological remains comprising two pits and a few postholes was discovered and excavated in 2005. A few hundred metres further east, a third pit was discovered in 2010 before the development of an urban area. These remains were located on a hillside, facing south-west, overlooking the Steïr river. In this hillylandscape, some natural flat platforms were chosen by the first farmers. The soil is composed of fine clay useful for different functions (covering wooden walls, making pottery). The geological substratum is very complex here andassociates various granites and metamorphic rocks used by the Neolithic people. Due to their morphology (shallowdepth, irregular contours, silty texture of the substratum) and their contents, the three pits discovered can be interpretedas having been dug for clay extraction and then progressively filled up with domestic waste material. Their contoursare irregular and the asymmetrical section shows the direction of the extraction of the clay; their depth is shallow andextraction stopped when the granite bedrock was reached. These excavations are similar to the lateral pits of houses inEarly Neolithic hamlets. The preservation of a few postholes nearby and the type of waste found confirm the domesticnature of these structures. The archaeological material, quite abundant despite the small volume of remains preserved,is characteristic of the Early Neolithic and the Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture. Four radiocarbon analyses, two ofwhich were made on calcinated ceramic material, confirm the dating of the site to the first quarter of the fifth millennium.Pottery represents the principal component with around thirty pots identified from over five hundred potsherds.Petrographic analysis of the components reveals a local manufacture for most of the pottery. However, some rare piecesimported from beyond the Armorican massif are distinguished by the use of exogenous clay and the introduction ofthe ‘chamotte’ technique. The morphological and decorative characteristics indicate a middle phase or the beginningof a recent phase of the Villeneuve-Saint-Germain culture. Spherical shapes and impressed decors are predominant,the applied cord typical of the recent phase almost absent. The lithic industry is mostly manufactured on flint of variousorigins with however a small preference for local and coastal resources. Long-distance importations came from centraland western France. In spite of the small number of pieces, the lithic series indicates the maintaining of blade productionon imported flint by means of a complex technical system. The presence and the nature of broken schist bracelets, typicalartefacts of this culture, and the macro-tools mostly made on granite, reveal the Neolithic population’s good knowledgeof their environment. The functional diversity of the macro-tools found on the site reveals that both domestic and craftactivities were carried out, a characteristic of Neolithic settlements. The anthracological study of the charcoal highlightsa progressive exploitation of the local forest, on the hill slopes and the bottom of surrounding valleys. Wood selectionwith oak dominant is typical of Early Neolithic sites.These settlement remains represent at present the most western traces of neolithisation in the Armorican Peninsula atthe beginning of the fifth millennium, in addition to the few regional excavated sites. Detailed analysis of the archaeologicalartefacts – ceramics, lithics, stone bracelets, macro-tools, anthracology, petrography – reveals both local supplyand long-distance relationships, in particular with the Loire valley and Touraine.
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Jean-Yves Tinévez, Gwenaëlle Hamon, Guirec Querré, Grégor Marchand, Yvan Pailler, et al.. Les vestiges d’habitat du Néolithique ancien de Quimper, Kervouyec (Finistère). Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, 2015, 112 (2), pp.269-316. ⟨10.3406/bspf.2015.14522⟩. ⟨hal-01761653⟩

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