A new chronology for the Neanderthals of Moula-Guercy, France

The Baume (cave) Moula-Guercy, in southeast France, contains an important sedimentary sequence, which includes the remains of a cannibalised group of Neanderthals.

For the upper layers of the cave a tephra deposit (layer VI) has been dated to 72±12 ka using thermoluminescence. The middle and lower layers of the cave have been constrained by biostratigraphy, pointing towards MIS 5.5 for the Neanderthal bearing layer XV. In order to refine the chronology of the site, we applied radiocarbon, 40Ar/39Ar, U-series and ESR dating analyses.

This new chronology corroborates the existing stratigraphic and biostratigraphic framework. Moula-Guercy layer XV, with its many human remains showing cannibalism, now stands as a reference site for this particular aspect of human behavior. Future studies using strontium isotope ratios will be carried out to identify potential Neanderthal mobility and changes in land-use patterns.

Citation: A comprehensive chronology of the Neanderthal site Moula-Guercy. Willmes, M.; Grün, R.; Douka, K.; Michel, V.; Armstrong, R., A.; Benson, A.; Crégut-bonnoure, E.; Desclaux, E.; Fang, F.; Kinsley, L.; Saos, T.; and Defleur, A., R. Journal of Archaeological Science, 9: 309-319. 2016.