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The Independent reports on some interesting archaeological news about Paris and how it may have been inhabited by humans much earlier than suspected. See the French government agency for rescue archaeology, the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives or INRAP, have been excavating a site about 1 mile away from the Eiffel tower since 1995.

This season they found thousands of flint arrowheads and fragments of animal bones that date to 10,000 years ago. This rich Mesolithic site is 3,000 years earlier than previously thought… The oldest previous human settlement within Paris’ city boundaries, a fishing and hunting village beside the Seine at Bercy near the Gare de Lyon railway station, date back to about 4,500 B.C.

Why is this significant? Aside from the novelty of knowing people settled in what is now Paris much earlier, this site seems to be an important resource for human technology in between the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age and the Neolithic or New Stone Age. The microliths of this culture period differ greatly from the Aurignacian artifacts, and could tell us how these hunter-gatherers were living before the agricultural revolution.

Excavations will have to end later this month. The site will be turned into a recycling plant operated by Syctom that will sort the 15,000 tons of garbage generated by Parisians. The irony is that this site looks to have been some sort of finishing and processing station for stone tool makers and hunters — lots of debitage and cores accompany the arrowheads andzooarchaeological remains… and now it will turn into a recycling plant.

Given the fact that the INRAP has stumbled upon a rich Mesolithic site, I suspect they are pressed for time to excavate and rescue this important cultural heritage resource.

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