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The Cave of Fontéchevade

Book description

Summary of the discoveries made during the course of excavations at the Paleolithic cave site of Fontéchevade, France, between 1994 and 1998. The excavation team address major problems raised by earlier excavations at the site from 1937 to 1954. These earlier excavations produced two sets of problematic data : first, the Lower Paleolithic stone tool industry, the Tayacian, that differs in fundamental ways from other contemporary industries, second, the human skull fragment that has been interpreted as modern in nature but that apparently dates from the last interglacial, long before there is any evidence for humans from any other site in Europe. By applying modern stratigraphic, lithic, faunal, geological, geophysical, and radiometric analyses, the interdisciplinary team demonstrates that the Tayacian 'industry' is a product of site formation processes and that the actual age of the Fontéchevade I fossil is compatible with other evidence for the arrival of modern humans in Europe.

Reviews

'The publication of [The Cave of] Fontechevade is a chronicle of both the value and the difficulty of reanalyzing material from early excavations. This study makes clear the importance of pairing studies of museum collections with renewed fieldwork, even if this fieldwork is on a modest scale. The results have removed the Fontechevade fossils from their position as early evidence of modern human morphology in Europe and delivered a serious blow to the concept of the Tayacian. At the same time, the study presents Fontechevade as a significant site for understanding site formation processes and hominin behaviour in the Middle Paleolithic and makes it clear that the research potential of the site is far from exhausted.'

Michael Chazan Source: Geoarchaeology: An International Journal

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