Abri Gandil

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Site type:
Site function:
Habitation site
44.05, 1.67

Last excavated, the Gandil shelter revealed facts that are undoubtedly valid for the entire site. The shelter is only occupied in the summer when exposure to the east becomes an asset, and more precisely from April to early November according to the analysis of reindeer teeth found in excavation; reindeer passed through Bruniquel during their spring and autumn migrations, salmon went up the Aveyron in the autumn to reproduce upstream, moreover a maximum of plant resources was available during the summer.

A few characteristic facts can be highlighted. Bone needles and many reindeer antler tools were used to make clothing of skins that are supposed to be sewn with reindeer tendons or horsehair. Ornaments are pendants (made of shells, teeth, bones, etc.) worn as necklaces or sewn onto clothing.

Reindeer account for up to 90% of game hunted, followed by ibex, chamois, horse, bison, aurochs, deer, and more rarely saiga, muskox, and birds such as snowy owl and willow ptarmigan; Carnivores (wolves, foxes, bears, etc.) are probably hunted for their fur. Hunting weapons include spears of various shapes and sizes, mainly spear points made of reindeer antlers or bone (often decorated with various geometric patterns such as streaks, zigzags, and others) that were fixed on wooden poles, and thrusters. Harpoons are absent at the Gandil shelter (unlike the Plantade and Montastruc shelters occupied later), the use of traps for salmon fishing is likely but has not left any remains.

The flint is worked on site from blocks coming mainly from the Verdier site which is easily accessible about 20 km up the Vère to the south and east. Flint from Charente, Aquitaine, Périgord and the Basque Country are also attested but in small numbers, not at all times, and not in all shelters. Flint tools are used to work bone and reindeer antlers, cut meat, and work with perishable materials such as leather and vegetable wood that have not survived.

The stratigraphy of the Gandil shelter shows an internal evolution during the Lower Magdalenian, with laminar cutting taking a more important place in relation to the production of notched tips, and questions the genesis of the Classical Middle Magdalenian. The analysis of the lithic industry and new dating around 17,000 BC led to attribute the lower sequence of the shelter to the Lower Magdalenian, characterized by the presence of micro lamellae with back and notched points and by the absence of squeegees, while the top of the stratigraphy remains attributed to the middle Magdalenian with scalene lamellae. The Lower Magdalenian is attested in Spain and France, for example in Montlleó in the commune of Prats i Sansor in Spanish Cerdanya, in Saint-Germain-la-Rivière in Gironde (without notched points) and in Fontgrasse in the Gard.

The new dating of the lower sequence makes possible cohabitation of the Magdalenian and Badegulian in Quercy with typically Badegulian sites such as the Cuzoul shelter of Vers and the small Cloup Barrat in Cabrerets, hybrid sites such as the cave of Pégourié in Caniac-du-Causse and Les Peyrugues in Orniac, and the lower sequence of the Gandil shelter therefore as a reference site of the Lower Magdalenian. The Badegoulian discoveries made in 2014 on the outdoor site of Mirande, just ten kilometers downstream from Bruniquel, are part of the same debate.

Although the shelter is less rich than its neighbors in objects of adornment, there are three perforated stones considered as pendants and infrequent objects such as a fossil (an ammonite) and a beaver incisor. In addition, the movable art is represented by a rare plate both painted and engraved: the engravings depict a reindeer, aurochs, a bird, and human heads, and the painting of a black deer.

A flute discovered sheltered Gandil is presented as a tube with an oblique terminal mouthpiece without playing holes. Although very simple, this type of flute makes it possible to vary the pitch of the sound by the pressure of the breath or by the partial closure of the end with the finger.