Reference collection platform

The Jacques Tixier technological reference collection (technology-related material – techniques and function – pottery, knapped stone, beads in hard stone, osseous materials, worked shell and metal)

The reference collections in the digital and material ‘Technothèque’ consist of material from ethnographic and experimental research. They are divided into five sections:

The lithic section comprises tools to help with research and training. A first reference collection aims to help researchers identify knapping techniques. The second collection is quantitative and is composed of experimental data produced for quantitative studies (quantities of products and waste, information on the time required to produce a given operating chain). J. Tixier built up the historic base of the third component, formed by individual pieces and refits (core and its blades, biface with all its flakes, etc), for didactic purposes. Series of debitage sequences consisting of debitage products (and possibly by-products) with their cores are available to students so that they can practise refitting and interpret the knapping sequence.


Pottery techniques The pottery techniques collection contains over 700 objects (sherds or whole vessels).  These objects come from experimental and ethnographic observations carried out since 1992 in Europe (England, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece), in Africa (South Africa, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Gabon, Senegal), in Asia (India, Jordan, Philippines, Sri Lanka), or in America (Mexico, Equator). The primary intent was to build up a reference collection of shaping techniques, finishing, surface treatment, decoration and firing. The end result is a whole range of marks or features characteristic of these techniques. ^

Bone points and needles

The creation of the experimental reference collection of bone points and needles based upon Early Neolithic Mediterranean archaeological collections was driven by two main objectives: 1) to better record the function of these tools through the characterisation of macro- and micro-wear traces; 2) to develop an analytical method adapted to bone materials. For the time being, the collection in the ‘Technothèque’ represents part of the reference system. It consists mainly of points, made mainly from goat or ox metapodials, cut by sawing and/or percussion, and shaped by scraping and/or abrasion. The tools in the reference collection have been used for a variety of purposes, and show varying degrees of surface wear and volume wear. The characteristics of this wear are presented in the database and illustrated by macro and microscopic photographs.



The ‘metal’ collection focuses exclusively on copper metallurgy, and includes more than a hundred objects. It is divided into three thematic collections:

-‘Copper metallurgy’, consisting of artefacts linked to the manufacturing process of a copper or alloy object (ores, slag, alloys) from archaeological and experimental collections.

-‘Castability of copper alloys’, which includes copper and alloy artefacts from experimental tests on the castability of various copper-based alloys.

-‘Brass’, which contains fragments of experimental ceramic crucibles for studying brass-making methods by cementation.


Ornamental elements

The ornamental collection consists of two sections. The first focuses on shells, and is directly related to the study of ornaments from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic site of Franchthi (Greece), made predominantly from marine molluscs. Systematic collections of the three main ornamental taxa; Tritia (Cyclope) neritea and pellucida, Columbella rustica and Antalis sp. were systematically collected from Argolid beaches, close to the site.
The aims were:
-To determine the different possible collection methods and the difficulties involved.
-To determine the quantities of specimens collected in a given time, variability between the different collectors, variability between places and collection modalities.
-To study the inter-annual variability in the populations collected live (dimensions, ratio of juveniles).
-To establish reference collections on the state of preservation in thanatocoenoses and through the collection of live individuals.
-To compare the marks and distribution of natural and anthropogenic perforations on shells.
-To compare the size curves with those of archaeological assemblages in order to investigate a possible selection of individuals for transformation into ornamental elements.
-To build up experimental material to test hypotheses on perforation techniques.

Carnelian beads from Cambay (India)

The Technothèque contains ethnographic and experimental items collected in Khambhat (Cambay), a small Indian town in Gujarat at the tip of the Gulf of Cambay, during the course of three missions carried out in 1988, 1993 and 1998. These collections are unique.
Stone-knapping activities have now almost disappeared from the world, and the shaping of carnelian beads, which has greatly declined since the 2000s, has met with the same fate. Data were collected as part of strictly controlled scientific field experiments. The latter aimed to characterise knapping and shaping skills and the acquisition process for learning these skills.


Osseous industry (Technos and Paris 1 University)

This reference collection constitutes an invaluable study tool, with over a hundred experimental series (debitage and shaping) on various hard animal materials illustrating different chronological contexts. These series record different manufacturing systems by fracturing, extraction, bipartition, segmentation or reduction. It results from many experimental sessions organised as part of the thematic workshop, CNRS Technos (coord. A. Averbouh and M. Christensen), and as part of the UP1 Master’s degree course “Transformation of hard animal raw materials: theory and practice” (coord. M. Christensen and N. Goutas).

The « Francine David-Thérèse Poulain » archaeozoological collection

An essential tool in the practice of archaeozoology, this collection was built up mainly by the contributions of the two emblematic researchers who worked with André Leroi-Gourhan. Over the last few years, Olivier Bignon-Lau has been working to bring these osteological holdings together in order to harmonise them and create a rich and practical reference collection. This collection is made up of the main species of large mammals, including human skeletal elements, rodents, birds, fossil and non-fossil shells, etc. These elements make it possible to identify skeletal parts and species, which is essential for all work in archaeozoology and bone technology. ^

Malacological reference collection – fossil and extant shells from Europe, the Near East and Oceania

The malacological reference collection comprises fossil and extant marine mollusc shells, derived from contemporary reference collections created as part of different field projects funded by the UMR. In particular, it documents Eocene fossiliferous resources from the Paris Basin (Foss’Île-de-France project, coord. C. Peschaux and J.-M. Portier), ornamental species from the Aegean Sea (the ornaments project from Franchthi, Greece, coord. C. Perlès) and the Red Sea (studies of the ornaments of Mallaha, d’El-Wad and Hayonim, Israel, coord. L. Davin) and Pacific specimens from French Polynesia (collection set up for the CIRAP laboratory, University of French Polynesia, coord. G. Traversat). The collection contains several thousand individuals from several hundred taxa (Gastropods, Bivalves, Scaphopods, Polyplacophores), and is now an indispensable tool for the identification of species, intra- and inter-specific variabilities, taphonomic alterations, geological and/or geographic origins and for work carried out in the UMR on mollusc exploitation (for food purposes, tool kits and ornamental elements).


Reference collection for the Paris Basin and Cenozoic flint from the Paris Basin

This reference collection is directly linked to the PCR “Cenozoic silicites of Île de France” (coord. P. Allard and V. Delvigne). It focuses on singular rock types from the Tertiary period: Cenozoic flints and silicites (especially Bartonian and Ludian) from Île de France. The objective is to create a new base of knowledge on the precise characterisation of these rocks, and their geographical origin (sourcing). This collection sheds light on key questions on the socio-economic and cultural organisation of the Paris Basin for all periods of prehistory.




The Pofatu database is a compilation of geochemical data and archaeological metadata for sourcing lithic artefacts. Pofatu is fully accessible online in open access and constitutes a regularly updated reference collection for the scientific community on Zenodo and GitHub. Existing data can be reused by citing past work, resulting in the enhanced reproducibility of provenance analyses. Pofatu is managed by A. Hermann in collaboration with R. Forkel (MPI-EVA, Germany).