Neanderthals lose an industry

And so the big news for today as that the dating and stratigraphy in the Grotte du Renne at Arcy-sur-Cure is fucked up.

Didn’t we sort of know this already?

But what are the implications of this paper? It means that one of only examples of associated Châtelperronian tools and Neanderthal remains is now in doubt – the original excavator of the cave found a lot of Neanderthal teeth that looked to be associated with this industry. Archeologists can’t just assume that certain cultures and bones are associated. They need to have evidence of association. This is usually consists of finding human remains and cultural implements in the same stratigraphic layer at the same site. This new paper purports that not only are the dates for the Châtelperronian a lot older than previously thought, but also that the stratigraphy is most likely misleading – meaning that associations being made between culture and remains are questionable.

The Châtelperronian is a lithic industry purported to be “intermediate” between the Mousterian (created by Neanderthals) and the Aurignacian (created by AMHS). It is often cited as an example of the technological and symbolic complexity of late Western European Neanderthals, and/or their presumed cultural interactions with their more gracile cousins. The site of Grotte du Renne was central to the argument (put forth by d’Errico et al 1998 and Zilhao 2006) that the Châtelperronian was not the product of Neanderthal and modern acculturation, but rather an independent Neanderthal cultural development.

But just about the only thing pointing to the conclusion that Neanderthals made the Châtelperronian industry was THIS SITE. So was there really any late “transition…?”



About alexclaxton

Paleoanthropology grad student, pop culture obsessive
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