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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications / New fossils at the "Troisième caverne" of Goyet (Belgium) and the mortuary practices of Late Neandertals

H. Rougier, I. Crevecoeur, C. Beauval, D. Flas, H. Bocherens, C. Wißing, M. Germonpré, P. Semal and J. van der Plicht (2014)

New fossils at the "Troisième caverne" of Goyet (Belgium) and the mortuary practices of Late Neandertals

In: MIDDLE PALAEOLITHIC IN NORTH-WEST EUROPE MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES, ed. by DI MODICA K., PIRSON St., TOUSSAINT M., ABRAMS G., BONJEAN D, pp. 35.

Neandertal discoveries in Belgium have played an important role in the history of European paleoanthropology. Late Neandertal fossils within the collections of the "Troisième caverne" of Goyet (Gesves, Belgium) have recently been identified by our multidisciplinary team. These fossils provide an opportunity to assess the variability of Late Neandertal mortuary practices. The "Troisième caverne" of Goyet, excavated at the end of the 19th and early 20th century, yielded a rich archeological sequence ranging from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic to historical times. In 2008 we began documenting the Paleolithic occupations of the "Troisième caverne" by reassessing the collections from the site, which heretofore had only een partially studied. The updated inventory of human remains was accomplished by conducting a detailed sorting of the paleontological collections in order to identify human remains that may have been overlooked thus far. As a result, the collections from the "Troisième caverne" now include nearly 200 human bones/bone fragments and isolated teeth that correspond to various materials from different periods. The morphometric study of the human specimens from Goyet, completed by direct radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis, reveals that they represent two main samples: a large and fragmentary series of Late Neandertal remains (Rougier et al. 2012) and a set of modern human specimens from the Upper Paleolithic (Rougier et al. 2013). The Neandertal remains include elements from the cranial and infra-cranial skeleton which represent at least 3 different individuals. The Neandertal specimens of Goyet also present numerous anthropogenic traces that are similar to those found on the fauna remains from the site. We have interpreted them as evidence of cannibalism and will discuss our observations in terms of mortuary behavior variability among Late Neandertals.
Abstract of an Oral Presentation or a Poster, RBINS Collection(s)

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