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Earthen Architectural Ensembles of the Final Neolithic - Fontbouisse at Mitra 5 (Garons, Gard)

Ensembles architecturaux en terre crue du Néolithique final - Fontbouisse à Mitra 5 (Garons, Gard)

Abstract

In eastern Languedoc, many Final Neolithic sites of the Fontbouisse culture have been discovered during the last decades, revealing vast occupations along the coastal plain. Located in the municipality of Garons (Gard), Mitra corresponds to a vast open-air ditched habitat site associated with a necropolis. Situated on a gently sloping hillside, the settlement is at the heart of a talweg made up of loessic sediments, particularly suited to the extraction of raw materials and earthen architecture. The site, spread over nearly two hectares, is characterised by an imposing network of deep ditches, dug during different phases of occupation throughout the Final Neolithic, between 3100 and 2300 BCE. The earliest evidence is linked to the Ferrières culture (Final Neolithic 2a) and represents a few hollow domestic structures. On the other hand, remains from the Fontbouisse culture (Final Neolithic 3) abound as early as the Early Fontbouisse with the construction of a ditch located in the centre of the occupation. Several ditches intersecting regularly were subsequently dug from this first enclosed space, and a necropolis was placed to the north of the settlement. It is during the Fontbouisse 2 period that the occupation is the densest, settlement structures multiply, ditches develop, and funerary practices evolve with the presence of burials in the ditches. The abundance of archaeological material provides detailed information on the chronology of the site and the diversity of the material productions (ceramics, lithic tools, bone industry). Among the numerous remains uncovered at Mitra 5, the vestiges of raw earth architecture and artefacts are widely represented. They are present as rejected items but also in the form of preserved sets. Thousands of fragments representing more than 600 kg of earthen remains were collected during the excavation. They were found throughout the site, associated with the habitat and, for some assemblages, with the funerary domain. Several categories of remains are represented, mainly architectural elements (wattle, woodveneer, plasters), building clay, but also domestic artefacts (objects, containers), and one hearth. Three noteworthy assemblages provide detailed information on the earthen constructions and Fontbuxian architecture. Among the structures, a pit is distinguished by an impressive batch of earthen remains found in secondary context, the majority of which corresponds to raw earth pressed on a framework of fine plants and small branches. These remains evoke the architectural component of a roof, known from several Final Neolithic regional sites (Chazelles 2003, 2005 and 2008). The majority of the evidence comes from a well-defined space located under a hedge that allowed its preservation. Composed of several hundred fragments weighing over 300 kg, this ensemble corresponds to the remains of a construction on load-bearing posts, the various components of which can be perceived (roof, partitions, framework), to which we can add an assemblage of fragments from a container made of unbaked earth, probably fixed. This original building offers a glimpse of the multiple earthen constructions that must have covered the site. Finally, a set of semi-excavated structures is present in the southern part of the settlement. Four units, installed in a restricted space, contain several earthen constructions. There is a lot of cross-cutting, which limits our knowledge of each of the structures, but the most recent one allows us to distinguish an original construction. Circular in shape with a diameter of approximately 4.5 m, this semi-excavated unit includes a massive raw earth wall built at its northern end. It also contains a collapsed roofing structure, made of dirt pressed on a framework of small plants. These two features protected the space from the wind and rain, not to mention the sun of southern France. The archaeological material present in the levels covered by the scree of the earthen wall is characterised by a concentration of craft objects, including lithics and pieces made on hard animal matter. This notable density, in view of the relative occurrence of these elements throughout the site, raises the question of a possible adjoining structure of the habitat and, more specifically, a lean-to building used for craft purposes. The architectural ensembles of Mitra 5 are part of a well-known building tradition in the South of France and enrich our knowledge of earthen constructions as well as indicate the possible form of a semi-excavated lean-to structure of the Final Neolithic 3.
En Languedoc oriental, de nombreux sites du Néolithique final ont été découverts au cours des dernières décennies. Plusieurs d’entre eux sont rattachés à la culture du Fontbouisse, dont de vastes occupations de plein air en plaine littorale. Situé sur le plateau des Costières de Nîmes, le site de Mitra 5, à Garons (Gard), est fréquenté dès le Néolithique final 2 - Ferrières, autour de 3100 BC, jusqu’au Néolithique final 3 - Fontbouisse, vers 2300 BC. Inscrit dans une pratique régionale bien connue des sites fontbuxiens, il se compose de centaines de structures en creux, de réseaux de fossés complexes, d’inhumations et d’aménagements en terre crue. Ces derniers sont représentés par des milliers de fragments dont plusieurs ensembles architecturaux, nous renseignant sur les constructions du site. Différentes techniques constructives sont attestées à travers des architectures de terre sur une structure porteuse en bois et des architectures semi-excavées en terre massive. La majorité des vestiges provient de fosses dépotoirs contenant des débris de constructions en terre crue incendiées, démantelées ou effondrées. Ces rejets fournissent de nombreuses informations sur les architectures du site, bien que les possibilités de restitution des constructions demeurent limitées. L’un des espaces semi-excavés se distingue par un aménagement comportant plusieurs composantes architecturales en terre. Son état de conservation permet d’appréhender une construction originale pouvant être envisagée comme un appentis à vocation artisanale et une structure annexe de l’habitat.
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hal-04594956 , version 1 (30-05-2024)

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  • HAL Id : hal-04594956 , version 1

Cite

Nina Parisot, Marie Laroche, Clément Recq. Ensembles architecturaux en terre crue du Néolithique final - Fontbouisse à Mitra 5 (Garons, Gard) : De l’abondance des vestiges aux limites interprétatives. Hiatus, lacunes et absences : identifier et interpréter les vides archéologiques, Actes du 29e Congrès préhistorique de France, 31 mai-4 juin 2021, Toulouse, Session Dépasser les plans et révéler l’architecture invisible : de l’identification à la restitution des constructions du Néolithique à l’âge du Fer, Société préhistorique française, pp.147-164, 2023. ⟨hal-04594956⟩
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