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Habitation site
44.4, 2.72

Roquemissou is a prehistoric site located in Montrozier, Aveyron, Occitanie. It is an ancient rock shelter whose overhang collapsed, and which was occupied almost continuously from the Epipaleolithic to the Neolithic, then during the medieval period.

The stratigraphy of the Roquemissou deposit, of exceptional conservation quality for an outdoor site, because of the protection provided by the ancient rocky overhang, makes it possible to document nearly ten millennia of human and environmental history.

Although partly destroyed by river erosion of the Aveyron and agricultural practices, the site of Roquemissou testifies to a very long succession of human occupations, from the Azilien, around 13,500 years before the present (AP), until the end of the Neolithic, around 2100 BC.

The first occupations of the site took place before the end of the last ice age, during which the Aubrac glacier occupied part of the region. Around 13,500 years BP, hunters collecting the Azilian settled on the site, followed around 11,500 years BP by those of the Laborian. At these times, the alluvial plain of the Aveyron is still relatively open, and the herds of horses that frequent it constitute a valuable meat resource for the inhabitants.

The cold stage of the Younger Dryas, from 12,900 to 11,700 years BP, the last phase of the Würm glaciation, corresponds to an abandonment of the site. Around 8500 BC, groups of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, from the Sauveterrien culture, settled on the site. Their camp is composed of tents of relatively light animal skins. The environment, now forested, is now frequented by wild boars, roe deer and deer. A large pit in which many rotten oak branches were burned probably used to smoke the skins to preserve them.

These occupations lasted until the middle of the seventh millennium BC. They were succeeded by new groups of Mesolithic hunters, before the first Neolithic agro-pastoralists, originally from the Mediterranean coast, came to settle on the site around 5000 BC. The question of the interaction between these different groups of indigenous hunters and settler peasants is the problem of recent excavations.

The site was then occupied throughout the Neolithic. During the cultivation of Treilles, in the final Neolithic, a real village gathering several families was present. The houses, poorly preserved, seem to have been oval in shape with stone-based walls.

At the top of the rock face, a small sepulchral cave was excavated during the first excavation campaigns by Philippe Gruat. She delivered the remains of about fifty individuals, buried over a long period. A second similar cave has been identified nearby. Many dolmens in the region are probably related to these occupations.

The occupation of the site ended abruptly with the collapse of the rock overhang that crushed the houses of the village under blocks of several tens of tons, around 2300 BC.