Can an Aurignacian age for the Chauvet cave paintings be maintained?

The cave of Chauvet (Southeastern France) became instantly famous after its discovery in 1994, now exactly 20 years ago. 425 painted and engraved figures were found in the cave, with a wide variety of themes and all with an excellent state of preservation. It became a key site for recent studies of parietal art, especially…

Identifying the provenance of ‘ochre’ used by late Neanderthals at Les Bossats (Northern France)

The recently discovered open-air site of Les Bossates (Ormesson, northern France) has a rich archaeological sequence, including a late Mousterian assemblage which has been TL dated to around 47,000 years ago. As reported elsewhere, this assemblage is characterised by discoidal flaking and a large number (77) of red and yellow iron oxide-rich rocks. These fragments…

The oldest handaxe industry in northwest Europe?

The earliest occupation of Europe is generally seen as having had two main phases. The first one relates to sites with simple core and flake assemblages (Mode 1) with no handaxes or other bifacial technologies (e.g. Pakefield, Orce, Pirro-Nord). The second phase relates to the spread of the Acheulean handaxe technology, seen as having reached…

Châtelperronian and late Mousterian at Les Bossats (Paris Basin)

The recent discovery (2009) and excavation of the open-air site of Ormesson (Seine-et-Marne – France) revealed an interesting  sequence of Gravettian – Solutrean – Châtelperronian – Middle Palaeolithic, unique for Northern France. The latest publication in Quaternary International focusses on level 4, the discoidal Mousterian. Preservation at the site is exceptional with animal bones, remnants…