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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 7;111(1):81-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1316780110. Epub 2013 Dec 16.

Evidence supporting an intentional Neandertal burial at La Chapelle-aux-Saints.

Author information

  • 1Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Unité Mixte Internationale 3199, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)-New York University, New York, NY 10003.

Abstract

The bouffia Bonneval at La Chapelle-aux-Saints is well known for the discovery of the first secure Neandertal burial in the early 20th century. However, the intentionality of the burial remains an issue of some debate. Here, we present the results of a 12-y fieldwork project, along with a taphonomic analysis of the human remains, designed to assess the funerary context of the La Chapelle-aux-Saints Neandertal. We have established the anthropogenic nature of the burial pit and underlined the taphonomic evidence of a rapid burial of the body. These multiple lines of evidence support the hypothesis of an intentional burial. Finally, the discovery of skeletal elements belonging to the original La Chapelle aux Saints 1 individual, two additional young individuals, and a second adult in the bouffia Bonneval highlights a more complex site-formation history than previously proposed.

KEYWORDS:

Middle Paleolithic; Mousterian burial; archaeology; symbolic behavior; taphonomy

PMID:
24344286
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3890882
Free PMC Article

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