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SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Abbevillean, Chellean, Abbeville
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The name for the period of the earliest handax industries of Europe, taken from Abbeville, the type site near the mouth of the River Somme in northern France. The site is a gravel pit in which crudely chipped oval or pear-shaped handaxes were discovered, probably dating to the Mindel Glaciation. This was one of the key places which showed that man was of great antiquity. Starting in 1836, Boucher de Perthes excavated the pits and the significance of these discoveries was recognized around 1859. These pits became one of the richest sources of Palaeolithic tools in Europe. In 1939, Abbé Breuil proposed the name Abbevillian for both the handax and the industry, which preceded the Acheulian in Europe.

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