The karst of the Vaucluse, an exceptional record for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and the Late-glacial period palaeoenvironment of southeastern France


Investigations in four natural traps from southeastern France have provided new and extensive information on the palaeoenvironment from the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; 21,000 to 15,075 cal BP), the Late-glacial period (15,075 to 11,490 cal BP) and the beginning of Holocene (11,490 to 2835 cal BP). Radiocarbon and U/Th dates provided precise chronological data. In the Coulet des Roches, an LGM and a near complete Late-glacial period sequence were identified. The infilling preserved skeletons of large mammals, revealing a new faunal assemblage for southeastern France. For the first time, two distinct southern expansions of Dicrostonyx torquatus have been identified, correlated firstly to the LGM and secondly to the Late-glacial period. Dicrostonyx torquatus was found to be associated with Microtus oeconemus during the Oldest Dryas (15,075 to 18,270 cal BP). Morphological adaptations to the cold climate were indicated by some mammals (Vulpes vulpes, Mustela nivalis, Mustela erminea, Equus caballus gallicus). Among the birds, Bubo scandiacus and Pyrrhocorax graculus were found to be abundant. Palynological data suggested a very open landscape as well as a cold and rather dry climate. Rangifer tarandus remains were recovered from the Oldest Dryas layers of Aven des Planes. During the Allerød, a wooded environment permitted the dispersal of Cervus elaphus, Sus scrofa, Tetrao urogallus as well as reptiles and amphibians. Holocene sequences existed in these two natural traps as in Aven Souche n° 1 and n° 2. At this time, a sparsely wooded landscape covered much of the area. Cervus elaphus and Tetrao urogallus were still present with Canis lupus, Lynx lynx and Felis silvestris. Areas of open landscape were occupied by Otis tarda. During the Bronze Age (2200 to 800 cal BC) and Iron Age (800 to 50 cal BC), Aven des Planes, Aven Souche n° 1 and n° 2 were used by humans and had a sepulchral destination.

Quaternary International, 339-340: 41-61
Nicolas Frerebeau
Nicolas Frerebeau

Technological choices in ancient societies.