Balme de Thuy
Prehistoric Rock Shelter
in a glacial valley in central Haute Savoie, the site known as
la Balme (cave) de Thuy has sheltered humans for millenia, starting
about ten thousand years b.p. (before present). The cave is really
only a nook beneath an overhanging cliff, and offers little shelter
from the elements. Digs conducted in recent years have yielded
countless fragments of bone, charcoal, wood and other organic
materials that have permitted accurate dating of the site by
The site, which is located between Lake Annecy
and Thônes at the foot of the Glières plateau, has
been thoroughly studied, and the artefacts found have been carbon-dated.
The oldest artifacts
(bone fragments) have been dated to the Azilien period, approximately
9820 B.P. (+/- 200); the
most recent date back to the Bronze Age, 2700 B.P. (+/- 60).
It appears that the site was almost constantly inhabited, except during
the great glaciations (7000 B.P.), when the valley was buried under a thousand feet of ice,
and no humans lived in the area.
There are a number
of stone-age and Bronze Age sites in the region; polished stone
tools from Neolithic times are occasionally found by gardeners
and hikers. Such polished stones were believed, in centuries
past, to have been formed by lightning striking the ground. Were
one to place such a stone (pierre à foudre) under
the doorway of a house at the time of its construction, the house
would thereafter be safe from lightning, since, according to popular wisdom, lightning never strikes twice in the same place. . .