Were Western European Neandertals Able to Make Fire?

Abstract

Significant variability has been observed in the frequency of fire use over the course of the Late Pleistocene at several Middle Paleolithic sites in southwest France. In particular, Neandertals appear to have used fire more frequently during warm climatic periods and very infrequently during cold periods. After reviewing several lines of evidence and alternative explanations for this variability, the null hypothesis that these Neandertals were not able to make fire still stands.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9

References

  1. Aldeias, V. (2017). Experimental approaches to archaeological fire features and their behavioral relevance. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S191–S205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Aldeias, V., Dibble, H. L., Sandgathe, D., Goldberg, P., & McPherron, S. J. (2016). How heat alters underlying deposits and implications for archaeological fire features: a controlled experiment. Journal of Archaeological Science, 67, 64–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aldeias, V., Goldberg, P., Dibble, H. L., & El-Hajraoui, M. (2014). Deciphering site formation processes through soil micromorphology at Contrebandiers Cave, Morocco. Journal of Human Evolution, 69, 8–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Aldeias, V., Goldberg, P., Sandgathe, D., Berna, F., Dibble, H. L., McPherron, S. P., et al. (2012). Evidence for Neandertal use of fire at Roc de Marsal (France). Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(7), 2414–2423.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Archibald, S., Lehmann, C. E., Gómez-Dans, J. L., & Bradstock, R. A. (2013). Defining pyromes and global syndromes of fire regimes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(16), 6442–6447.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ballard, J. P., Horn, S. P., & Li, Z.-H. (2017). A 23,000-year microscopic charcoal record from Anderson Pond, Tennessee, USA. Palynology, 41(1–2), 216–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barbetti, M. (1986). Traces of fire in the archaeological record, before one million years ago? Journal of Human Evolution, 15(8), 771–781.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Barkai, R., Rosell, J., Blasco, R., & Gopher, A. (2017). Fire for a reason: barbecue at Middle Pleistocene Qesem Cave, Israel. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S314–S328.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Begon, M., Townsend, C. R. H., John, L., Colin, R. T., & John, L. H. (2006). Ecology: from individuals to ecosystems (Vol. Sirsi).

  10. Berna, F., Goldberg, P., Horwitz, L. K., Brink, J., Holt, S., Bamford, M., et al. (2012). Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. PNAS, 109(20), 7593–7594.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Bierwirth, S. L. (1996). Lithic analysis in southwestern France: Middle Paleolithic assemblages from the site of la Quina. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports Ltd..

    Google Scholar 

  12. Binford, L. R. (2007). The diet of early hominins: Some things we need to know before “reading” the menu from the archaeological record. Guts and brains: An integrative approach to the hominin record, 185–222.

  13. Blanchette, R. A. (1997). Haploporus odorus: a sacred fungus in traditional Native American culture of the northern plains. Mycologia, 89(2), 233–240.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Blarquez, O., Ali, A. A., Girardin, M. P., Grondin, P., Fréchette, B., Bergeron, Y., et al. (2015). Regional paleofire regimes affected by non-uniform climate, vegetation and human drivers. Scientific Reports, 5, 13356.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Bordes, F. (1972). A Tale of Two Caves. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Bordes, F., Laville, H., & Paquereau, M. M. (1966). Observations sur le Pléistocène supérieur du gisement de Combe-Grenal (Dordogne). Actes de la Société Linnéenne de Bordeaux, 103(10), 3–19.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Bouchud, J. (1966). Essai sur le Renne et la climatologie du Paléolithique moyen et supérieur. Imprimerie Magne.

  18. Bowman, S. G. E., & Sieveking, G. D. G. (1983). Thermoluminescence dating of burnt flint from Combe Grenal. Journal of the European Study Group on Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Techniques Applied to Archaeology, 9, 253–268.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Callow, P., Walton, D., Shell, C., Callow, P., & Cornford, J. (1986) The use of fire at La Cotte de St. Brelade. La Cotte de St. Brelade 1961–1978. Excavations by CBM McBurney, 193–195.

  20. Castel, J.-C., Discamps, E., Soulier, M.-C., Sandgathe, D., Dibble, H. L., McPherron, S. J. P., et al. (2016). Neandertal subsistence strategies during the Quina Mousterian at Roc de Marsal (France). Quaternary International, 433(Part B), 140–156.

  21. Chase, P. G. (1986). Relationships between Mousterian lithic and faunal assemblages at Combe Grenal. Current Anthropology, 27(1), 69–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Chase, P. G. (2009). The Cave of Fontéchevade: recent excavations and their paleoanthropological implications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Courty, M. A., Carbonell, E., Vallverdú Poch, J., & Banerjee, R. (2012). Microstratigraphic and multi-analytical evidence for advanced Neanderthal pyrotechnology at Abric Romani (Capellades, Spain). Quaternary International, 247(1), 294–312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Daniau, A.-L., Goñi, M. F. S., & Duprat, J. (2009). Last glacial fire regime variability in western France inferred from microcharcoal preserved in core MD04-2845, Bay of Biscay. Quaternary Research, 71(3), 385–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Daniau, A.-L., Goñi, M. F. S., Martinez, P., Urrego, D. H., Bout-Roumazeilles, V., Desprat, S., et al. (2013). Orbital-scale climate forcing of grassland burning in southern Africa. PNAS, 110(13), 5069–5073.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Daniau, A.-L., Harrison, S., & Bartlein, P. (2010). Fire regimes during the last glacial. Quaternary Science Reviews, 29(21), 2918–2930.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. de Beaulieu, J.-L., & Reille, M. (1989). The transition from temperate phases to stadials in the long Upper Pleistocene sequence from Les Echets (France). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 72, 147–159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Debénath, A., & Dibble, H. (1994). Handbook of Paleolithic typology Vol 1: The lower and middle Paleolithic of Europe. Philadelphia: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania. ix + 202 p.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Debénath, A., Jelinek, A., Armand, D., Chase, P., Dibble, H., Mercier, N., Renault-Miskovsky, J., Tillier, A.-M., Valladas, H., & Vandermeersch, B. (1999). Nouvelles Fouilles à La Quina (Charente). Gallia Préhistoire, 40, 29–74.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Delpech, F., & Prat, F. (1995). Nouvelles observations sur les faunes acheuléennes de Combe-Grenal (Domme, Dordogne). Paleo, 7(1), 123–137.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Dibble, H. L., Aldeias, V., Goldberg, P., McPherron, S. P., & Sandgathe, D. (2017). How did Hominins adapt to Ice Age Europe without fire? Current Ahtropology, 58(S16), S278–S287.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Dibble, H. L., Berna, F., Goldberg, P., McPherron, S., Mentzer, S., Niven, L. et al. (2009a). A preliminary report on Pech de l'Azé IV, layer 8 (Middle Paleolithic, France). PaleoAnthropology, 182–219

  33. Dibble, H. L., McPherron, S. P., Sandgathe, D., Goldberg, P., Turq, A., & Lenoir, M. (2009b). Context, curation, and bias: an evaluation of the middle Paleolithic collections of Combe-Grenal (France). Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(11), 2540–2550.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Dibble, H., & Lenoir, M. (1995). The Middle Paleolithic Site of Combe-Capelle Bas (France). Philadelphia: University Museum Press, University of Pennsylvania xviii+363 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Dibble, H. L., McPherron, S., Goldberg, P., and Sandgathe, D. (2018) The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV. Monograph: Cave and Karst Systems of the World Series. Springer.

  36. Discamps, E. (2014). Ungulate biomass fluctuations endured by Middle and Early Upper Paleolithic societies (SW France, MIS 5-3): The contributions of modern analogs and cave hyena paleodemography. Quaternary International, 337, 64–79.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Discamps, E., & Faivre, J.-P. (2017). Substantial biases affecting Combe-Grenal faunal record cast doubts on previous models of Neanderthal subsistence and environmental context. Journal of Archaeological Science, 81, 128–132.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Discamps, E., & Royer, A. (2017). Reconstructing palaeoenvironmental conditions faced by Mousterian hunters during MIS 5 to 3 in southwestern France: A multi-scale approach using data from large and small mammal communities. Quaternary International, 433, 64–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Discamps, E., Jaubert, J., & Bachellerie, F. (2011). Human choices and environmental constraints: deciphering the variability of large game procurement from Mousterian to Aurignacian times (MIS 5-3) in southwestern France. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30(19), 2755–2775.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. d’Errico, F. & Soressi, M. (2018). Manganese-rich fragments from Pech de l’Azé IV: a preliminary analysis. In H. Dibble, S. P. McPherron, P. Goldberg, & D. Sandgathe (Eds.), The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV. Springer.

  41. Farukh, M. A., & Hayasaka, H. (2012). Active forest fire occurrences in severe lightning years in Alaska. Journal of Natural Disaster Science, 33(2), 71–84.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Genty, D. (2008). Palaeoclimate research in Villars Cave (Dordogne, SW-France). International Journal of Speleology, 37(3), 3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Gill, J. L., Williams, J. W., Jackson, S. T., Lininger, K. B., & Robinson, G. S. (2009). Pleistocene megafaunal collapse, novel plant communities, and enhanced fire regimes in North America. Science, 326(5956), 1100–1103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Goldberg, P., Dibble, H., Berna, F., Sandgathe, D., McPherron, S. J. P., & Turq, A. (2012). New evidence on Neandertal use of fire: examples from Roc de Marsal and Pech de l'Azé IV. Quaternary International, 247(1), 325–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Goldberg, P., McPherron, S. P., Dibble, H., and Sandgathe, D. (2018). Stratigraphy, deposits, and site formation. In Dibble, H. L., S. P. McPherron, P. Goldberg, and D. Sandgathe, The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV. Cave and Karst Systems of the World Series (pp. 21–74). Springer.

  46. Goldberg, P., Weiner, S., Bar-Yosef, O., Xu, Q., & Liu, J. (2001). Site formation processes at Zhoukoudian, China. Journal of Human Evolution, 41(5), 483–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Goni, M. F. S., Landais, A., Fletcher, W. J., Naughton, F., Desprat, S., & Duprat, J. (2008). Contrasting impacts of Dansgaard–Oeschger events over a western European latitudinal transect modulated by orbital parameters. Quaternary Science Reviews, 27(11), 1136–1151.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Gowlett, J. A., & Wrangham, R. W. (2013). Earliest fire in Africa: towards the convergence of archaeological evidence and the cooking hypothesis. Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa, 48(1), 5–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Guadelli, J.-L., & Laville, H. (1988). L'environnement climatique de la fin du Moustérien à Combe-Grenal et à Camiac. In Paléolithique moyen récent et Paléolithique supérieur ancien en Europe. Ruptures et transitions: examen critique des documents archéologiques, (Vol. 3, pp. 43–48, 41 fig., 41 tab.): Mémoires du Musée de Préhistoire d'Ile-de-France. APRAIF éd., Nemours

  50. Guérin, G., Discamps, E., Lahaye, C., Mercier, N., Guibert, P., Turq, A., et al. (2012). Multi-method (TL and OSL), multi-material (quartz and flint) dating of the Mousterian site of Roc de Marsal (Dordogne, France): Correlating Neanderthal occupations with the climatic variability of MIS 5-3. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(10), 3071–3084.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Guiot, J., De Beaulieu, J., Cheddadi, R., David, F., Ponel, P., & Reille, M. (1993). The climate in Western Europe during the last glacial/interglacial cycle derived from pollen and insect remains. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 103(1–2), 73–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Henry, A. G. (2017). Neanderthal cooking and the costs of fire. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S329–S336.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Heyes, P. J., Anastasakis, K., De Jong, W., Van Hoesel, A., Roebroeks, W., & Soressi, M. (2016). Selection and use of manganese dioxide by Neanderthals. Scientific Reports, 6, 22159.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Hlubik, S., Berna, F., Feibel, C., Braun, D., & Harris, J. W. (2017). Researching the nature of fire at 1.5 mya on the site of FxJj20 AB, Koobi Fora, Kenya, using high-resolution spatial analysis and FTIR spectrometry. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S243–S257.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Hodgkins, J. (2018). Taphonomical and Zooarchaeological Analysis of Bordes’ Excavated Material from Levels I2 and Y-Z. In H. Dibble, S. P. McPherron, P. Goldberg, & D. Sandgathe (Eds.), Excavations at Pech de l’Azé IV: A Middle Paleolithic Site in Southwest France

  56. Hodgkins, J., Marean, C. W., Turq, A., Sandgathe, D., McPherron, S. P., & Dibble, H. L. (2016). Climate-mediated shifts in Neandertal subsistence behaviors at Pech IV and Roc de Marsal (Dordogne Valley, France). Journal of Human Evolution, 96, 1–18.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Jankowski, N. R. (2018) An Absolute Chronological Framework for Pech IV. In: H. Dibble, S. P. McPherron, P. Goldberg, & D. Sandgathe (Eds.), The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV. Springer.

  58. Jelinek, A. (2013). Neandertal Lithic Industries at La Quina. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Julig, P., Long, D., Schroeder, H., Rink, W., Richter, D., & Schwarcz, H. (1999). Geoarchaeology and new research at Jerf al-‘Ajla cave, Syria. Geoarchaeology, 14(8), 821–848.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Karkanas, P. (2001). Site formation processes in Theopetra Cave: a record of climatic change during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene in Thessaly, Greece. Geoarchaeology, 16(4), 373–399.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Karkanas, P., Rigaud, J. P., Simek, J. F., Albert, R. M., & Weiner, S. (2002). Ash bones and guano: a study of the minerals and phytoliths in the sediments of Grotte XVI, Dordogne, France. Journal of Archaeological Science, 29(7), 721–732.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Laville, H. (1975). Climatologie et chronologie du Paléolithique en Périgord: étude sédimentologique de dépôts en grottes et sous abris (Vol. 4): Editions du Laboratoire de paléontologie humaine et de préhistoire, Université de Provence, Centre Saint Charles.

  63. Mallol, C., Hernández, C. M., Cabanes, D., Sistiaga, A., Machado, J., Rodríguez, T., et al. (2013). The black layer of Middle Palaeolithic combustion structures. Interpretation and archaeostratigraphic implications. Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(5), 2515–2537.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Mallol, C., Marlowe, F. W., Wood, B. M., & Porter, C. C. (2007). Earth, wind, and fire: Ethnoarchaeological signals of Hadza fires. Journal of Archaeological Science, 34(12), 2035–2052.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Mcpherron, S. P., & Dibble, H. L. (1999). The lithic assemblages of Pech de l'Azé IV (Dordogne, France). Préhistoire Européenne, 15, 9–43.

    Google Scholar 

  66. McPherron, S. P., Dibble, H. L., Goldberg, P., Lenoir, M., Sandgathe, D., & Turq, A. (2012). De Combe Grenal à Pech de l'Azé IV: L'évolution des Méthodes de Fouilles de François Bordes. François Bordes et la Préhistoire. Actes du colloque de Bordeaux en, 2009, 65–77.

    Google Scholar 

  67. McPherron, S. P., Dibble, H. L., Sandgathe, D., Goldberg, P., & with contributions by S. Lin and A. Turq. (2018). The Lithic Assemblages. In H. L. Dibble, S. P. McPherron, P. Goldberg, & D. Sandgathe (Eds.), The Middle Paleolithic Site of Pech de l’Azé IV (pp. 117–219). Berlin: Springer, Cave and Karst Systems of the World Series.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Miller, C. E. (2015). A tale of two Swabian caves. Geoarchaeological investigations at Hohle Fels and Geißenklösterle. Tübingen: Kerns Verlag.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Montoya, E., Rull, V., Stansell, N. D., Abbott, M. B., Nogué, S., Bird, B. W., et al. (2011). Forest–savanna–morichal dynamics in relation to fire and human occupation in the southern Gran Sabana (SE Venezuela) during the last millennia. Quaternary Research, 76(3), 335–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Mooney, S., Harrison, S., Bartlein, P., Daniau, A.-L., Stevenson, J., Brownlie, K., et al. (2011). Late quaternary fire regimes of Australasia. Quaternary Science Reviews, 30(1), 28–46.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Morin, E., Delagnes, A., Armand, D., Castel, J.-C., & Hodgkins, J. (2014). Millennial-scale change in Archaeofaunas and their implications for Mousterian lithic variability in Southwest France. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 36, 158–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Niven, L. (2013). A diachronic evaluation of Neanderthal cervid exploitation and site use at Pech de l’Azé IV, France. In: Zooarchaeology and Modern Human Origins (pp. 151–161). Springer.

  73. Niven, L. (2018). Zooarchaeological Analysis of the Assemblage from the 2000–2003 Excavations. In: H. Dibble, S. P. McPherron, P. Goldberg, & D. Sandgathe (eds.), Excavations at Pech de l’Azé IV: A Middle Paleolithic Site in Southwest France.

  74. Niven, L., Steele, T. E., Rendu, W., Mallye, J.-B., McPherron, S. P., Soressi, M., Jaubert, J., & Hublin, J.-J. (2012). Neandertal mobility and large-game hunting: The exploitation of reindeer during the Quina Mousterian at chez-Pinaud Jonzac (Charente-maritime, France). Journal of Human Evolution, 63(4), 624–635.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Pasto, I., Allue, E., & Vallverdu, J. (2000). Mousterian Hearths at Abric Romani, Catalonia (Spain). Neanderthals on the Edge Oxford, Oxbow Books (pp. 59–67).

  76. Pop, E., Kuijper, W., van Hees, E., Smith, G., García-Moreno, A., Kindler, L., et al. (2016). Fires at Neumark-Nord 2, Germany: an analysis of fire proxies from a last interglacial Middle Palaeolithic basin site. Journal of Field Archaeology, 41(5), 603–617. https://doi.org/10.1080/00934690.2016.1208518.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Pruetz, J. D., & Herzog, N. M. (2017). Savanna chimpanzees at Fongoli, Senegal, navigate a fire landscape. Current Anthropology, 58(S16), S337–S350.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Pruetz, J. D., & LaDuke, T. C. (2010). Brief communication: Reaction to fire by savanna chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) at Fongoli, Senegal: Conceptualization of “fire behavior” and the case for a chimpanzee model. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 141(4), 646–650.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Reille, M., & De Beaulieu, J. (1990). Pollen analysis of a long upper Pleistocene continental sequence in a Velay maar (Massif Central, France). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 80(1), 35–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Richter, D., Hublin, J.-J., Jaubert, J., McPherron, S. P., Soressi, M., & Texier, J.-P. (2013). Thermoluminescence dates for the Middle Palaeolithic site of Chez-Pinaud Jonzac (France). Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(2), 1176–1185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2012.09.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Rodríguez-Cintas, Á., & Cabanes, D. (2017). Phytolith and FTIR studies applied to combustion structures: the case of the middle Paleolithic site of El Salt (Alcoy, Alicante). Quaternary International, 431, 16–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Roebroeks, W., & Villa, P. (2011). On the earliest evidence for habitual use of fire in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(13), 5209–5214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Romps, D., Seeley, J., Vollaro, D., & Molinari, J. (2014). Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming. Science, 246, 851–854.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  84. Rowlett, R. M. (2000). Fire control by Homo erectus in East Africa and Asia. Acta Anthropologica Sinica, 19(5uppl), 198–208.

    Google Scholar 

  85. Sandgathe, D., Goldberg, P., Dibble, H., McPherron, S. P., Turq, A., & Schowortz, S. (2008). Roc de Marsal (Campagne-de-Bugue, Dordogne). Rapport d'Operation pour l'Annee 2008. Report on file with the Service Regional de l'Archaeologie, Bordeaux.

  86. Sandgathe, D., & Berna, F. (2017). Symposium introduction to fire and the genus Homo. Current Anthropology, 58(16), S165–S174.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  87. Sandgathe, D. M. (2017). Identifying and describing pattern and process in the evolution of Hominin use of fire. Current Anthropology, 58(16), S360–S370.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  88. Sandgathe, D. M., Dibble, H., Goldberg, P., McPherron, S. P., & Turq, A. (2004). Roc de Marsal (Campagne-de-Bugue, Dordogne). Rapport d’Opération pour l’Année 2004. Report on file with the Service Régional de l’Archéologie, Bordeaux.

  89. Sandgathe, D. M., Dibble, H. L., Goldberg, P., McPherron, S. P., Turq, A., Niven, L., et al. (2011). On the Role of Fire in Neandertal Adaptations in Western Europe: Evidence from Pech de l'Azé and Roc de Marsal, France. PaleoAnthropology, 216–242

  90. Schmidt, O. (2006). Wood and tree fungi: biology, damage, protection, and use. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.

    Google Scholar 

  91. Shimelmitz, R., Kuhn, S. L., Jelinek, A. J., Ronen, A., Clark, A. E., & Weinstein-Evron, M. (2014). ‘Fire at will’: the emergence of habitual fire use 350,000 years ago. Journal of Human Evolution, 77, 196–203.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Sorensen, A., Roebroeks, W., & van Gijn, A. (2014). Fire production in the deep past? The expedient strike-a-light model. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42, 476–486. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.11.032.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  93. Sorensen, A. (2017a). On the relationship between climate and Neandertal fire use during the last glacial in south-west France. Quaternary International, 436, 114–128.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  94. Sorensen, A. (2017b). MTA bifaces used as percussive fire-making tools by late Neandertals. Presented to annual meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution, Leiden.

  95. Soressi, M., & d'Errico, F. (2007) Pigments, gravures, parures: les comportements symboliques controversés des Néandertaliens. Éditions du CTHS.

  96. Soressi, M., Armand, D., D'errico, F., Jones, H., Pubert, E., Rink, W. J., Texier, J.-P., & Vivent, D. (2002). Pech-de-l'Azé I (Carsac, Dordogne): Nouveaux travaux sur le Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne. Bulletin De La Société Préhistorique Française, 99, 5–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  97. Soressi, M., McPherron, S. P., Lenoire, M., Dogandzic, T., Goldberg, P., Jacobs, Z., Maigrot, Y., Martisius, N. L., Miller, C. E., Rendu, W., Richards, M., Skinner, M. M., Steele, T. E., Talamo, S., & Texier, J.-P. (2013). Neandertals made the first specialized bone tools in Europe. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(35), 14186–14190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  98. Speth, J. D. (2017). Putrid meat and fish in the Eurasian Middle and Upper Paleolithic: are we missing a key part of Neanderthal and Modern Human Diet? PaleoAnthropology, 44–72.

  99. Stahlschmidt, M. C., Miller, C. E., Ligouis, B., Hambach, U., Goldberg, P., Berna, F., et al. (2015). On the evidence for human use and control of fire at Schöningen. Journal of Human Evolution, 89, 181–201.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  100. Stiner, M. C., Kuhn, S. L., Weiner, S., & Bar-Yosef, O. (1995). Differential burning, recyrstallization, and fragmentation of archaeological bone. Journal of Archaeological Science, 22, 223–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  101. Tzedakis, P. (1994). Vegetation change through glacial-interglacial cycles: a long pollen sequence perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 345(1314), 403–432.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  102. Vallverdú, J., Alonso, S., Bargalló, A., Bartrolí, R., Campeny, G., Carrancho, Á., et al. (2012). Combustion structures of archaeological level O and mousterian activity areas with use of fire at the Abric Romaní rockshelter (NE Iberian Peninsula). Quaternary International, 247(1), 313–324.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  103. van der Kaars, S., Wang, X., Kershaw, P., Guichard, F., & Setiabudi, D. A. (2000). A Late Quaternary palaeoecological record from the Banda Sea, Indonesia: patterns of vegetation, climate and biomass burning in Indonesia and northern Australia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 155(1), 135–153.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  104. Verardo, D. J., & Ruddiman, W. F. (1996). Late Pleistocene charcoal in tropical Atlantic deep-sea sediments: climatic and geochemical significance. Geology, 24(9), 855–857.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  105. Veraverbeke, S., Rogers, B., Goulden, M., Jandt, R., Miller, C., Wiggins, E., & Randerson, J. (2017). Lightning as a major driver of recent large fire years in North Amercian Boreal forests. Nature Climate Change, 7, 529–534.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  106. Vidal-Matutano, P. (2016). Firewood and hearths: Middle Palaeolithic woody taxa distribution from El Salt, stratigraphic unit Xb (Eastern Iberia). Quaternary International

  107. Vogel, J. C., & Waterbolk, H. T. (1967). Groningen radiocarbon dates vii. Radiocarbon, 9(1), 107–155.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  108. Wein, R. W. (1976). Frequency and characteristics of arctic tundra fires. Arctic, 1976, 213–222.

    Google Scholar 

  109. Weiner, S., Xu, Q., Goldberg, P., Liu, J., & Bar-Yosef, O. (1998). Evidence for the use of fire at Zhoukoudian, China. Science, 281(5374), 251–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  110. Woillard, G. M. (1978). Grande pile peat bog: a continuous pollen record for the last 140,000 years. Quaternary Research, 9(1), 1–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Chez Pinaud Jonzac was excavated by Jacques-Jaubert and Jean-Jacques Hublin with Marie Soressi and SPM. All are thanked for agreeing to share this portion of the lithic data from Jonzac. Abri Peyrony was excavated by Michel Lenoir and SPM. Tamara Dogandžić supervised the field work and studies the lithics with SPM. Again, all are thanked for agreeing to share this portion of the lithic data. SPM thanks the Max Planck Society and Jean-Jacques Hublin for support of this research. Aylar Abdolahzadeh was responsible for most of the collection of the Combe Grenal burned flint data, and we would like to thank Stéphane Madelaine of the Musée National de Préhistoire for arranging access to this material. Much of the data used here was the result of research projects that were possible through funding provided by the US National Science Foundation, the Leakey Foundation, Service Régional d’Archéologie, the Conseil Général de la Dordogne, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, National Geographic Society, the University of Pennsylvania Research Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Marie Curie International Fellowship within the 6th European Community Framework Program.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Harold L. Dibble.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there are no conflicts of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dibble, H.L., Sandgathe, D., Goldberg, P. et al. Were Western European Neandertals Able to Make Fire?. J Paleo Arch 1, 54–79 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41982-017-0002-6

Download citation

Keywords

  • Pyrotechnology
  • Paleolithic fire
  • Middle Paleolithic
  • Western European Neandertals