Discovered in 1970, the Middle Palaeolithic site of Mondrée in Fermanville (Cherbourg Peninsula) is remarkably well preserved. It is a submerged site twenty metres below the surface. Research resumed in the 2000s as part of a project focusing on the first settlements in Normandy.

A site full of flints

Situated at the foot of a cliff, the site produced thousands of knapped flints dated to around 70,000 years ago. Their makers were undoubtedly forced to migrate as the climate and sea levels changed during the glacial periods. The forty or so artefacts retrieved during dives in 2000/1 were consistent with the series of lithic objects found in 1971. They were knapped according to the Levallois technique.

Sediment coring in 2001 provided fresh information on the site’s stratigraphy. It confirmed that the site was used extensively during prehistoric times.

Prehistory under the sea

A survey carried out in 2010 by the non-profit organizations ADRAMAR and HWTMA succeeded in locating the site anew. Underwater archaeology and the site of Biéroc La Mondrée are making a major contribution to our knowledge of prehistory. They shed light on the evolution, migration and distribution of humans, and on their way of life in areas which are today underwater. Such data is essential if we are to understand the importance of this heritage and develop strategies for its long-term preservation.

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