Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI / AFP 10:33 am, August 28, 2023

Traces of a perennial habitat were unearthed this summer in the vast Neolithic site of the Marais de Saint-Gond (Marne), which now offers an exceptionally complete picture of its social organization, 150 years after the discovery of the first flints.

"This is the last piece of the puzzle that we were missing," says Rémi Martineau, a researcher at the CNRS, who located the village with his team. In the Marais de Saint-Gend region, 15 large flint mines (quarries) have already been identified on 450 hectares, as well as 135 hypogea - underground collective funerary constructions.

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Five megalithic covered walkways, ten polishers for axes and fields cultivated by scrubbing have also been located since the discovery of the first flints a century and a half ago.

A discovery made in the heart of summer

This new discovery makes it possible to pass a milestone in the understanding of "the economic, societal and territorial organization of the Neolithic", continues the archaeologist according to whom there is "no equivalent" of such a set in Europe.

The discovery of this village of the recent Neolithic (-3500/-3000), took place in the heart of summer, when a ditch of implantation of a palisade was precisely identified in Val-des-Marais, in the south of the Marne.

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The prehistoric enclosure went around a hill, enclosing a space estimated, for the moment, at one hectare, according to the archaeological assessment recently completed in an area now mainly agricultural, AFP found.

In the process, a first apse building with two naves, attached inside the enclosure, against a large detritus pit 20 m in diameter, was cleared, as well as shafts outside.

"The foundations of our society are already there"

Settled, this population of farmers and herders settled near water, above a water table. "The site was entirely structured," explains Rémi Martineau. The foundations of our society are already there."

These successive discoveries are the result of a research program launched twenty years ago, led by the CNRS. The latest campaign - which brings together the CNRS, the Artehis joint laboratory, the University of Burgundy Franche-Comté and the Ministry of Culture - mobilized a total of fifty people, including researchers from multiple disciplines in France and abroad, as well as twenty "excavators", mainly archaeology students.

In particular, they unearthed an oval element in mother-of-pearl of freshwater mussels, a real "museum piece" according to Mr. Martineau. Tiny, it is pierced with two holes in the center. This probable ancestor of the button, -3400/-3300 years old-, is in "exceptional state of conservation", giving hope to the researcher that the rest of the site is "perfectly preserved" if more complete excavations are carried out later.