The Reality of Neandertal Symbolic Behavior at the Grotte du Renne, Arcy-sur-Cure, France

Francois Caron, Francesco d'Errico, Pierre Del Moral, Frederic Santos, Joao Zilhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

101 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The question of whether symbolically mediated behavior is exclusive to modern humans or shared with anatomically archaic populations such as the Neandertals is hotly debated. At the Grotte du Renne, Arcy-sur-Cure, France, the Chatelperronian levels contain Neandertal remains and large numbers of personal ornaments, decorated bone tools and colorants, but it has been suggested that this association reflects intrusion of the symbolic artifacts from the overlying Protoaurignacian and/or of the Neandertal remains from the underlying Mousterian.

Methodology/Principal Findings: We tested these hypotheses against the horizontal and vertical distributions of the various categories of diagnostic finds and statistically assessed the probability that the Chatelperronian levels are of mixed composition. Our results reject that the associations result from large or small scale, localized or generalized post-depositional displacement, and they imply that incomplete sample decontamination is the parsimonious explanation for the stratigraphic anomalies seen in the radiocarbon dating of the sequence.

Conclusions/Significance: The symbolic artifacts in the Chatelperronian of the Grotte du Renne are indeed Neandertal material culture.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere21545
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2011

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