Productions en série vers 1500 avant notre ère. Des règles de fabrication au Bronze moyen entre la Manche et les Alpes à la lumière d’une étude morphométrique.

Abstract : Some European Bronze Age objects were produced by what has been described as serial metalworking. One particular example is the Middle Bronze Age palstave, massively produced and used in Western Europe during the mid-second millennium BC. These artefacts were often voluntarily buried together in hoards, meaning they were removed from the production network, thus avoiding any recycling. They are found intact, either as rough castings or ready for use. These homogeneous objects are grouped in sets of several items, or in tens, or even in hundreds. Such discoveries have immediately led to numerous questions as to the possible interpretation of this behaviour. It is clear that prehistoric craftsmen must have been seeking to reproduce the models they had designed, as faithfully as possible. Macroscopic observations reveal a quest for the same general shape and ornamentation, suggesting great homogeneity in production during this period. Many examples have been found of palstaves that were produced from exactly the same mould. Considering the entire production as a whole, and regarding all palstaves as belonging to the same type, some disparities are nevertheless visible, even to the naked eye, particularly with regard to shape. The question is therefore to discover what degree of consistency exists among types usually identified only with the naked eye. It becomes necessary to measure the degree of determination required to duplicate so many objects over such a vast territory (up to several thousands of km²). The overarching question is to understand how the production of metallic objects was organised during the mid-second millennium BC, from the English Channel to the Alps. Macroscopic observations are no longer adequate to answer such questions. It has become necessary to concentrate on methodological techniques commonly used in the life sciences. Mathematical analysis systems are indeed capable of discriminating between populations according to shape. So far, two methods have been selected: 1) the Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) and 2) orthogonal polynomials. These analysis techniques were used to translate naked eye observations into mathematical expressions. The two typological groups considered in these studies are the Breton type and the Norman type, named after their areas of highest discovery density. Mathematical analysis confirmed the statistical validity of these two typological groups, but with an overlap in the morphometric space. This result proves that each group was seeking to reproduce a specific model, and also confirms that these prehistoric populations were aware of their territorial affiliation: 1) the Breton peninsula, for the Breton type and 2) the Seine Valley, for the Norman type. These statistical methods also make it possible to quantify the variability present in each type. Shape thus acquires a geographic identity, giving rise to a cultural identification, even if the objects differ somewhat from the original model. As the distance from the two high discovery density zones increases, some palstaves presenting a visual similarity to standard models are in fact mathematically identified as outliers, distant from the centre of the morphospace. This result raises the question of possible local copies, or even imitations, in areas outside the two high discovery density zones, taken to be the two major manufacturing centres. To conclude, this example of prehistoric metal production illustrates that the rule in manufacturing seems to be the desire to get ever closer to a reference model, but that all copies do not have to be perfect. The degree of congruence does not seem to be the most important aspect, as long as the objects appear similar to the naked eye.
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Submitted on : Friday, March 3, 2017 - 5:09:05 PM
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Maréva Gabillot, Fabrice Monna, Paul Alibert, Benjamin Bohard, Estelle Camizuli, et al.. Productions en série vers 1500 avant notre ère. Des règles de fabrication au Bronze moyen entre la Manche et les Alpes à la lumière d’une étude morphométrique.. C. Mordant & S. Wirth. Normes et variabilités au sein de la culture matérielle des sociétés de l’Âge du Bronze / Journée thématique de la Société Préhistorique Française, Jun 2013, Dijon, France, Société Préhistorique Française, pp.19-31, 2017, ⟨http://www.prehistoire.org/515_p_48307/acces-libre-sEance-10-normes-et-variabilites-au-sein-de-la-culture-materielle-des-societes-de-l-Age-du-bronze.html⟩. ⟨hal-01482686⟩

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