Old Stone Age
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Combe-Capelle Bas

Combe-Capelle Bas is a Middle Paleolithic site situated in the Couze valley in the Perigord region of Southern France. The most significant excavations were those conducted by Henri-Marc Ami from the late twenties until his death in 1931. The task of reporting on his work then fell to his friend and colleague, Denis Peyrony, and a portion of the collections were later studied by Maurice Bourgon (the results of which were published posthumously by François Bordes). Unfortunately, the deaths of both Ami and Bourgon prior to the publication of their studies meant that a tremendous amount of information went unreported. Nonetheless, Combe-Capelle Bas quickly acquired the status of a key site and its industries were central to the formulation of Middle Paleolithic systematics by the Abbé Breuil, Peyrony, Bordes, and others during the middle part of this century.

In 1987, Harold Dibble and Michel Lenoir started new excavations at this site to better understand its sequence of stone tool industries. As it turned out, the main issues of the site became site formation processes and collection bias. A focus on these two themes has characterized the work we have done ever since on sites such as Cagny L'Epinette, Fontechevade, and Pech de l'Azé IV.

The result of this work showed that the industries are characterized by Quina technology despite a low frequency of scrapers. This is interesting because the site is situated on a source of raw material. TL dates place a portion of the sequence to 50-60 thousand years ago. A new project of OSL dating the entire sequence is underway.

Dibble and Lenoir also did a small test excavation in the site of Abri Peyrony, located immediately upslope from Combe-Capelle Bas. Abri Peyrony was recently reexcavated by McPherron and Lenoir. More information on those excavations is here.