Newly discovered Neanderthal tools and animal bones from the Netherlands

The Middle Palaeolithic record from the Netherlands is rather poor, especially compared to neighbouring countries like Belgium and Germany. The Dutch Middle Palaeolithic is mainly represented by surface collections, some containing just one handaxe or leaf point, others having a wider array of tools, flakes and cores. There are only a handful contextualised sites, the main one being Maastricht-Belvedere in the south, and the recent handaxe site of Assen in the north. Therefore the new finds in s’Hertogenbosch announced today are of great value.

In s’Hertogenbosch, located centrally in the southern part of the Netherlands, Middle Palaeolithic stone tools, including small chips, denticulates, scrapers and biface thinning flakes, were recovered during the construction of an underground car park. These lithics are further associated with a rich faunal record, including mammoth, woolly rhino, reindeer, giant deer, horse and bison. The finds are assigned to MIS-4/3 (70-40kaBP) and seem to represent an excellent state of preservation, unique for the area. However, the finds were not excavated but recovered when sediments were dredged up to create the building pit. It has been decided not to stop the building works but to monitor the dredging of the material at the point when it goes through a sieve with a 10mm mesh.


The lower jaw of a young mammoth, a mammoth tusk, a scraper and bifafial thinning flake; Photos: Gerard de Graaf via

The lithic and faunal remains, together with sediment samples are, currently, still under investigation at the University of Leiden and the Dutch Cultural Heritage Service. Even though the recovery method of the material is far from ideal, the well preserved faunal material in combination with stone tools, will form a substantial addition to the Dutch Middle Palaeolithic record.

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