A Third Neanderthal Individual from La Ferrassie Dated to the End of the Middle Palaeolithic

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Guillaume Guérin
Vera Aldeias
Frederik Baumgarten
Paul Goldberg
Asier Gómez-Olivencia
Christelle Lahaye
Stéphane Madelaine
Bruno Maureille
Anne Philippe
Dennis Sandgathe
Sahra Talamo
Kristina Thomsen
Alain Turq
Antoine Balzeau


The Palaeolithic site of La Ferrassie (SW France) has been extensively studied since its discovery during the 19th century. In addition to a large sequence including Middle and Upper Paleolithic layers, the site has yielded two very complete adult Neanderthal skeletons, five partial immature Neanderthal skeletons as well as a few isolated human remains. Currently, much of the site sequence has been dated by radiocarbon and OSL but the dating of the human skeletal remains is still a matter of debate. Here, we present the OSL dating of a still consolidated sediment sample associated with the Neanderthal skeleton La Ferrassie 1 (LF1), unearthed by Peyrony and Capitan in 1909 and preserved at the Musée de l’Homme (Paris, France). This block of sediment is crucial as it constitutes the first possibility to date a sample in close association with the specimen. This sample is included in a chronological model at the scale of the site, with the aim to estimate the ages of three Neanderthal individuals: La Ferrassie 1, 2 and 8 (LF1, LF2 and LF8). Two chronological modelling tools (OxCal and BayLum/ArchaeoPhases) are first applied to previously published radiocarbon ages and compared. Chronological inferences show that the BayLum/ArchaeoPhases model provides posterior probability densities, or statistical inferences, that are more consistent with the measured data. When including OSL ages in the BayLum model, we can conclude that all three studied individuals date from the late Middle Palaeolithic (<52 ka at the 95% credibility level) and could have been contemporaries in the range 44.9 to 44.1 ka.

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