Archaeologists working at the expansive Neolithic site in northeast France have made a significant discovery that completes the puzzle of the site’s history—the remains of a permanent settlement.
These findings were revealed at the Marais de Saint-Gond, a Neolithic site, shedding light on its social structure. This discovery comes 150 years after the initial uncovering of flint artifacts at the same location.
“This is the last piece of the jigsaw we were missing,” remarked Remi Martineau, a researcher at France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), who, along with his team, discovered the village.
At the Marais de Saint-Gond site in northeast France, archaeologists have already identified fifteen expansive flint mines spanning 450 hectares. Additionally, they’ve uncovered 135 hypogeum structures—underground chambers that were constructed during ancient times.
Over the course of the past century and a half, since the initial discovery of flint artifacts, the researchers have also pinpointed five megalithic-covered passageways, ten sites used for polishing axes, and evidence of fields that were cultivated through controlled burns.
Martineau explained that this recent finding represents a significant leap forward in comprehending “the economic, societal, and territorial organization of the Neolithic.”
He further emphasized that there is simply “no equivalent” to this discovery anywhere else in Europe.
Neolithic village discovered during the identification of a ditch
The village’s detection occurred during the identification of a ditch meant for the construction of a defensive palisade in the Val-des-Marais commune, situated roughly 136 kilometers (84 miles) away from Paris.
This prehistoric enclosure encircled a hill and encompassed an estimated expanse of one hectare (2.5 acres), as per the archaeological assessments conducted.
Throughout this exploration, an apse-style building was uncovered adjacent to a sizable refuse pit measuring approximately twenty meters in diameter. Additionally, wells were brought to light during the excavation process.
🇫🇷 Après 150 ans de recherches, un village néolithique a été découvert par des archéologues dans les Marais de Saint-Gond (Marne) ! Ce village vieux d'au moins 3 000 ans dévoile l’organisation économique, territoriale et sociétale néolithique ! 🤩 (TF1 Info)
📸 CNRS pic.twitter.com/1t35Po6ZT4
— Le Média Positif 🍀 (@LMPositif) August 29, 2023
The site exhibited a thoroughly organized structure, Martineau remarked, highlighting that the foundational aspects of our society were already in place.
These successive revelations stem from a research initiative launched two decades ago, spearheaded by the CNRS.
The most recent excavation endeavor, which was a collaborative effort involving CNRS, the joint Artehis laboratory, the University of Bourgogne Franche-Comté, and the Ministry of Culture, engaged a team of fifty individuals.
This team was comprised of both local and international researchers, alongside twenty “excavators,” primarily composed of archaeology students.
Discovery of a tiny oval object made of ‘mother-of-pearl’
Experts have also uncovered a small oval artifact crafted from mother-of-pearl, which Martineau describes as a genuine “museum piece.” This object features two holes at its center and is believed to be a precursor to the button, dating back to around 3,400 to 3,300 years ago.
Given its remarkable state of preservation, researchers are optimistic that the remaining portions of the site will be similarly well-maintained if further excavations are carried out in the future.
Moreover, the CNRS archaeologists have recently unveiled a settlement that dates back six thousand years. This settlement comprises the oldest wooden structures ever found in the region and is believed to have been inhabited by some of Europe’s earliest megalithic builders.