Advertisement

Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 1005–1015 | Cite as

Testing the Roc de Marsal Neandertal “Burial” with Geoarchaeology

  • Paul Goldberg
  • Vera Aldeias
  • Harold Dibble
  • Shannon McPherron
  • Dennis Sandgathe
  • Alain Turq
Original Paper

Abstract

The question of intentional Neanderthal interment continues to be debated in paleoanthropology. Among the criteria that can be used to investigate the intentionality of a burial, many of them rely on geoarchaeological data that speak to the context of the human remains. In this paper, we revisit the original attribution of the Roc de Marsal Neandertal infant as an intentional burial by evaluating the sedimentary context, pit structure, and taphonomical aspects of the remains and their integration with data from the most recent excavations at the site. From a geoarchaeological point of view, no clear anthropogenic ritual signature was found. On the contrary, all the available evidence points towards natural formation processes associated with the initial deposition and subsequent burial of the Roc de Marsal Neandertal infant.

Keywords

European Neanderthals Paleoanthropology Roc de Marsal Neandertal Taphonomy Neanderthal Burials Geoarchaeology 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We have made note in the text of this article that Isabelle Couchoud (2001, 2003) was the first to suggest that the context of the Roc de Marsal child was possibly a natural phenomenon. This should have been made clear in an earlier publication (Sandgathe et al. 2011) that also dealt with the question of the context of this particular Neanderthal skeleton. Excavations at Roc de Marsal had the financial support of the US National Science Foundation (grants no. 0917739 and 0551927), the Leakey Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation, the Service Régional de l'Archéologie, and the Conseil Général de la Dordogne.

Supplementary material

12520_2013_163_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 5.26 MB)

References

  1. Akazawa T, Muhesen S, Kondo O, Dodo Y, Moneda M, Griggo C, Ishida H (2002) Neanderthal burials of the Dederiyeh Cave. In: Akazawa T, Muhesen S (eds) Neanderthal burials. Excavations of the Dederiyeh Cave, Afrin, Syria. Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, pp 75–90Google Scholar
  2. Aldeias V, Goldberg P, Sandgathe D, Berna F, Dibble HL, McPherron SP, Turq A, Rezek Z (2012) Evidence for Neandertal use of fire at Roc de Marsal (France). J Archaeol Sci 39(7):2414–2423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angelucci DE (2008) Geoarchaeological insights from a Roman age incineration feature (ustrinum) at Enconsta de Sant'Ana (Lisbon, Portugal). J Archaeol Sci 35(9):2624–2633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bordes F (1975) Le gisement du Pech de l'Azé IV: Note préliminaire. Bull de la Societé Préhistorique Française 72:293–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bordes F, Lafille J (1962) Decouverte d'un squelette d'enfant mousterien dans le gisement du Roc de Marsal, commune de Campagne-du-Bugue (Dordogne). C R Hebd Seances Acad Sci 254(4):714–715Google Scholar
  6. Chase PG, Dibble HL (1987) Middle Paleolithic symbolism: a review of current evidence and interpretations. J Anthropol Archaeol 6:263–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen C (2008) Sépultures, rituels et religions. In: Vandermeersch B, Cleyet-Merle J-J, Jaubert J, Maureille B, Turq A (eds) Première humanité: gestes funéraires néandertaliens. Réunion des Musées nationaux, Paris, pp 53–58Google Scholar
  8. Couchoud I (2001) Processus géologiques de formation du site moustérien du Roc de Marsal. DEA, Université de Bordeaux I, TalenceGoogle Scholar
  9. Couchoud I (2003) Processus géologiques de formation du site moustérien du Roc de Marsal (Dordogne, France). Paléo 15:51–68Google Scholar
  10. Courtaud P, Duday H (2008) Qu'est ce qu'une sépulture? Comment la reconnaître? In: Vandermeersch B, Cleyet-Merle J-J, Jaubert J, Maureille B, Turq A (eds) Première humanité : gestes funéraires néandertaliens. Réunion des Musées nationaux, Paris, pp 16–24Google Scholar
  11. Defleur A (1993) Les Sépultures Moustériennes. C.N.R.S. Éditions, ParisGoogle Scholar
  12. Duday H, Courtaud P, Crubezy E, Sellier P, Tillier A-M (1990) L'anthropologie “de terrain”: reconnaissance et interprétation des gestes funéraires. Bull Mém Soc Anthropol Paris 2:29–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gargett RH (1999) Middle Palaeolithic burial is not a dead issue: the view from Qafzeh, Saint-Caesaire, Kebara, Amud, and Dederiyeh. J Hum Evol 37(1):27–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Goldberg P, Macphail R (2006) Practical and theoretical geoarchaeology. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  15. Goldberg P, Dibble H, Berna F, Sandgathe D, McPherron SJP, Turq A (2012) New evidence on Neandertal use of fire: examples from Roc de Marsal and Pech de l'Azé IV. Quat Int 247(1):325–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goring-Morris N, Belfer-Cohen A (2003) More than meets the eye. Studies on Upper Palaeolithic diversity in the Near East. Oxbow Books, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Henshilwood CS, Marean CW (2003) The origin of modern human behavior: critique of the models and their test implications. Curr Anthropol 44(5):627–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hollenback KL (2010) Ritual and religion. In: Schiffer MB (ed) Behavioral archaeology. Principles and practice. Equinox, London, pp 156–163Google Scholar
  19. Karkanas P, Dabney MK, Smith RAK, Wright JC (2012) The geoarchaeology of Mycenaean chamber tombs. J Archaeol Sci 39(8):2722–2732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lafille J (1961) Le gisement dit “Roc de Marsal”, commune de Campagne du Bugue (Dordogne): note préliminaire. Bull de la Soc Préhistorique Française t 11–12:712–713, 58, fascGoogle Scholar
  21. Macphail RI, Cruise GM, Mellalieu SJ, Niblett R, Bond S, Dormor I, Reeves K (1998) Micromorphological interpretation of a “turf-filled” funerary shaft at St. Albans, United Kingdom. Geoarchaeology Int J 13(6):617–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Madre-Dupouy M (1992) L'enfant du Roc de Marsal, étude analytique et comparative. Cahier de Paléoanthropologie. Presse du CNRS, ParisGoogle Scholar
  23. McBrearty S, Brooks AS (2000) The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior. J Hum Evol 39(5):453–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McPherron P (ed) (2007) Tools versus Cores: alternative approaches to stone tool analysis. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, NewcastleGoogle Scholar
  25. Peyrony D (1921) Les Moustériens inhumaient ils leur mort? Bull de la Société Historique et Archéologique du Périgord t XLVIII:132–139Google Scholar
  26. Piveteau J, . (1963) La paléontologie humaine en Dordogne. Centenaire de la préhistoire en Périgord (1864–1969) Numéro spécial Bulletin de la Société Historique et Archéologique du Périgord, pp. 91–97Google Scholar
  27. Sandgathe DM, Dibble HL, Goldberg P, McPherron SP (2011) The Roc de Marsal Neandertal child: a reassessment of its status as a deliberate burial. J Hum Evol 61(3):243–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sommer JD (1999) The Shanidar IV ‘Flower Burial’: a re-evaluation of Neanderthal Burial Ritual. Camb Archaeol J 9(1):127–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tillier AM, Arensburg B, Vandermeersch B, Rak Y (1991) L'apport de Kébara à la Palethnologie funéraire des Néanderthaliens du Proche-Orient. In: Bar-Yosef O, Vandermeersch B (eds) Le squelette moustérien de Kébara 2. Cahiers de Paléoanthropologie. C.N.R.S, Paris, pp 89–95Google Scholar
  30. Turq A, Dibble H, Faivre J-P, Goldberg P, McPherron SJ-P, Sandgathe D (2008) Le Moustérien du Périgord Noir: quoi de neuf? Mém Soc Préhistorique Fr XLVII XLVII:83–93Google Scholar
  31. Van Campo M, Bouchud J (1962) Flore accompagnant le squelette d'enfant moustérien découvert au Roc de Marsal, commune du Bugue, (Dordogne) et première étude de la faune du gisement. CR Acad Sci Paris 254:897–899Google Scholar
  32. Van Keuren S, Roos CI (2013) Geoarchaeological evidence for ritual closure of a kiva at Fourmile Ruin, Arizona. J Archaeol Sci 40(1):615–625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vandermeersch B (2008) Origine et diffusion des premières sépultures. In: Vandermeersch B, Cleyet-Merle J-J, Jaubert J, Maureille B, Turq A (eds) Première humanité: gestes funéraires néandertaliens. Réunion des Musées nationaux, Paris, pp 60–65Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Goldberg
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vera Aldeias
    • 3
  • Harold Dibble
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Shannon McPherron
    • 3
  • Dennis Sandgathe
    • 6
    • 7
  • Alain Turq
    • 8
  1. 1.Institute for Archaeological Sciences, University of TübingenTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of ArchaeologyBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Human EvolutionMax Planck Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  4. 4.Department of Anthropology, 3260 South StreetUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.Department of ArchaeologySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  7. 7.University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and AnthropologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  8. 8.Musée National de Préhistoire, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil (Dordogne), PACEA, UMR 5199Université de Bordeaux, CNRSTalence cedexFrance

Personalised recommendations