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L'industrie oubliée de Néandertal - The forgotten industry of Neanderthal


The development of Paleolithic sciences from the exceptional European heritage led to define the behavioral modernity on the basis of the material culture of Homo Sapiens in this part of the world. In the set of modern traits is the use of bone materials, for making fully shaped objects by means of varied techniques. The lack of bone industry by Neanderthal has been considered as a cognitive gap. However, the definition of what a bone industry should be is based on artefacts having a strong social and symbolic value, which excludes part of the equipments made by Homo Sapiens himself. Indeed, a large part of the bone industry within the Solutrean assemblages was revealed by my PhD investigations: due to the use of percussion for blanks production and tools shaping, these products were confused with the faunal remains. The transfer of my analytical grid to Paleolithic sites of the Siberian Altai, among which Denisova cave, has uncovered a diversified bone industry in occupation layers from other Hominians. My identification of more than a thousand knapped bone tools opens up new perspectives. Was the production of this industry by Denisovans and Neanderthals a local shared tradition, or is this the sign of a wider practice so far unseen by lack of appropriate analytical and conceptual tools? I propose to investigate this issue by extending the corpus to Neanderthal sites of Western Europe and by creating a traceological framework suitable for the functional recognition of the unshaped bone tools. My aim is to contribute to the debate on the cognitive faculty of archaic Humans, not so much in binary terms, as all too often discussed, but rather according to the structure of their technical world. The Traceolab, at the University of Liege, with its modern equipment, its field of competence in full adequacy with the subject and its access to archaeological collections of great value constitutes the most favourable context for the continuation of my research.

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Place Du 20 Aout 7
4000 Liege
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 166 320