The Azilian is a name given by
archaeologists to an industry of the Epipaleolithicin northern Spainand southern France.
It probably dates to the period of the
Allerød Oscillationaround 10,000 years ago (10,000 BC uncalibrated) and followed the Magdalenianculture. Archaeologists think the Azilian represents the tail end of the Magdalenian as the warming climate brought about changes in human behaviour in the area. The effects of melting ice sheets would have diminished the food supply and probably impoverished the previously well-fed Magdalenian manufacturers. As a result, Azilian tools and art were cruder and less expansive than their Ice Agepredecessors - or simply different.
Diagnostic artefacts from the culture include Azilian points (microliths with rounded retouched backs), crude flat bone
harpoons and pebbles with abstract decoration. The latter were first found in the River Ariseat the type-site for the culture, Mas d'Azilin the French Pyrenees[http://www.beloit.edu/~museum/logan/paleoexhibit/masdazil.htm#thumbnails] . 145 are known from the Swiss site of Birsmatten-Eremitage. Compared with the late Magdelanian, the number of microliths increases.
The Azilian co-existed with similar early Mesolithic European cultures such as the
Tjongerianof Northern and the Swiderian of North-Eastern Europe, the Sauveterrianand, its successor, the Tardenoisianin parts of France, Belgium and Switzerland, the Maglemosianin Denmark and Eastern Britain.
In its late phase, it experienced strong influences from neighbouring Tardenoisian, reflected in the presence of many geometrical
microliths persisted until the arrival of the Neolithic[A. Moure, "El origen del hombre, 1999. ISBN 84-7679-127-5] [F. Jordá Cerdá et al, "Historia de España 1: Prehistoria", 1989. ISBN 84-249-1015-X] [X. Peñalver, "Euskal Herria en la Prehistoria", 1996. ISBN 84-89077-5-4] , that in some western areas was only adopted very late, almost in the Chalcolithic era.
In Southern Iberia
A culture very similar to Azilian spread as well into Mediterranean Spain and southern Portugal. As it lacks of bone industry, it's named distinctively as "Iberian microlaminar microlithism". It was replaced by the so-called "geometrical microlithism", related to Tardenoisian culture.
Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
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