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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2020 / Waulsort Caverne X: A new cave site with Early Mesolithic human remains in Belgium

Caroline Polet, Dorothée G. Drucker, Clémence Glas, Charlotte Sabaux, Quentin Goffette, Mathilde Samsel, Ivan Jadin, Eugène Warmenbol and Sébastien Villotte (2020)

Waulsort Caverne X: A new cave site with Early Mesolithic human remains in Belgium

Mesolithic Miscellany, 28(2):25-43.

Caverne X in Waulsort (Namur province, Belgium), excavated in the 19th century, revealed a burial site which was unexpectedly dated to the Final Upper Paleolithic (10,820 ± 80 BP, OxA-6856) in the 1990’s. A re-examination of the collection and a new radiocarbon dating program was recently undertaken. The dates obtained on four left femurs (9285 ± 30 BP, ETH-74725; 9310 ± 30 BP, ETH-74726; 9340 ± 30 BP, ETH-74727; 9300 ± 30 BP, ETH-74728) revealed that the remains should in fact be attributed to the Early Mesolithic,consistent with 24 other 14 C dates obtained for eight cave sites in the Meuse Basin which range from ca . 9600 BP to 9000 BP. Caverne X contained 544 human remains belonging to at least nine individuals (one fetus, one perinatal/young child, one teenager, two adolescents/young adults and four adults), and 66 faunal remains consisting mainly of intrusive animals with the possible exception of a cervid antler, and one artefact (a small flint blade). Other than ochre deposits, all alterations (breakage, surface abrasion, impact scars and concretions) are post-depositional in origin. Carbon and nitrogen stable isotope analysis indicates a diet primarily based on terrestrial resources from an open landscape with proteins provided by large herbivores. Our study shows that Caverne X fits well with results already obtained for the Meuse Basin cave burials in terms of chronology, minimum number of individuals, funerary rituals and diet.
Peer Review, Open Access, RBINS Collection(s)
Early Mesolithic, Belgium, cave burial, anthropology, radiocarbon dating, stable isotope, analysis

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