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J Hum Evol. 2007 Apr;52(4):455-66. Epub 2006 Dec 10.

The Pech-de-l'Azé I Neandertal child: ESR, uranium-series, and AMS 14C dating of its MTA type B context.

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Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Dept. of Human Evolution, Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany. <>


The Pech-de-l'Azé I skull and mandible are included in the juvenile Neandertal remains from Europe. However, some preserved features in the cranial skeleton seem to distinguish the specimen from other Neandertal children. Unfortunately, the stratigraphic position and dating of this child has never been clear. Our recent work on unpublished archives show that the Pech-de-l'Azé I Neandertal child was discovered at the bottom of layer 6, attributed to the Mousterian of Acheulean tradition type B. These skull and mandible are the first diagnostic human remains (aside from an isolated tooth) attributed to the Mousterian of Acheulian tradition (MTA) type B. Consequently, we confirm that Neandertals were the makers of this Mousterian industry, which is characterized by unusual high frequencies of Upper Paleolithic type tools, elongated blanks and blades. We were able to date the context of the hominid remains by dating layer 6 and the layers above and beneath it using ESR, coupled ESR/(230)Th/(234)U (coupled ESR/U-series), and AMS (14)C. Coupled ESR/U-series results on 16 mammalian teeth constrain the age of the uppermost layer 7 to 41-58ka, and layer 6 to 37-51ka. The wide spread in each age estimate results mainly from uncertainties in the gamma-dose rate. These ages are concordant with AMS (14)C ages of two bones coming from the top of layer 6, which provide dates of about 41.7-43.6ka cal BP. A combination of stratigraphic arguments and dating results for layers 6 and 7 show that the Neandertal child cannot be older than 51ka or younger than 41ka. The lowermost layer 4 is shown to be older than 43ka by the principle of superposition and ESR dating in the immediately overlying layer 5. This study shows that the MTA type B had been manufactured by Neandertals before the arrival of anatomically modern humans in the local region. Additionally, by providing a firm chronological framework for the specific morphometric the features of Pech-de-l'Azé I Neandertal child, this study is a new step toward the understanding of temporal and spatial changes in the ontogenesis of Neandertals in south-western Europe during oxygen isotope stages 5-3.

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