It probably dates to the period of the Allerød Oscillation around 10,000 years ago and followed the Magdalenian culture. 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 Age predecessors - 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 Arise at the type-site for the culture, Mas d'Azil in the French Pyrenees. 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 Tjongerian of Northern and the Swiderian of North-Eastern Europe and is followed by the Sauveterrian in Southern France and Switzerland, the Tardenoisian in Northern France, the Maglemosian in Denmark and Great_Britain. The Ertebølle of Northern Europe already belongs to the late Mesolithic, characterised by large trapezes.
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