December 2020

La Ferrassie site scheme and remains distribution

New Open Access pubblication in 'Nature: Scientific reports'!

"Pluridisciplinary evidence for burial for the La Ferrassie 8 Neandertal child"  by Balzeau et al.

 

 Abstract

The origin of funerary practices has important implications for the emergence of so-called modern cognitive capacities and behaviour. We provide new multidisciplinary information on the archaeological context of the La Ferrassie 8 Neandertal skeleton (grand abri of La Ferrassie, Dordogne, France), including geochronological data -14C and OSL-, ZooMS and ancient DNA data, geological and stratigraphic information from the surrounding context, complete taphonomic study of the skeleton and associated remains, spatial information from the 1968–1973 excavations, and new (2014) fieldwork data. Our results show that a pit was dug in a sterile sediment layer and the corpse of a two-year-old child was laid there. A hominin bone from this context, identified through Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS) and associated with Neandertal based on its mitochondrial DNA, yielded a direct 14C age of 41.7–40.8 ka cal BP (95%), younger than the 14C dates of the overlying archaeopaleontological layers and the OSL age of the surrounding sediment. This age makes the bone one of the most recent directly dated Neandertals. It is consistent with the age range for the Châtelperronian in the site and in this region and represents the third association of Neandertal taxa to Initial Upper Palaeolithic lithic technocomplex in Western Europe. A detailed multidisciplinary approach, as presented here, is essential to advance understanding of Neandertal behavior, including funerary practices.