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Tracking Neanderthals in Time and Space: was the “Quina World” the first regional cultural entity in the history of Europe?

Project description

Studying Neanderthal regional culture

Neanderthals have been widely studied but many aspects of their evolution and behaviour remain relatively unknown. However, a Neanderthal site in southwestern France provides key elements for a better understanding of this extinct subspecies of archaic humans. The Quina Mousterian offers evidence suggesting a complex industry-type culture of seasonal reindeer hunters. What is more, elements of the Quina Mousterian were found in other sites across Europe. The EU-funded QuinaWorld project will elaborate on the hypothesis of an existed La Quina cultural entity active in a short period and operated by connected groups of Neanderthals. The project will be carried out by an interdisciplinary consortium aiming to identify how the Quina culture evolved in time and how and when it spread across Europe.


Neanderthals disappeared ~40 000 years ago; although they have received significant public and academic attention, their evolution and behavioural diversity remain little known. Quina Mousterian designates a singular Neanderthal lithic industry; it is often associated with specific, large game seasonal hunting (herds of reindeer). Particular mobility patterns and elaborate carcass processing suggest an image of a complex, intriguing cultural entity. Outside its core area (SW France), Quina Mousterian is also mentioned in different parts of Europe. My project will first aim at testing the hypothesis that a Quina cultural entity existed, i.e. that the occurrences of Quina Mousterian correspond to a short period of time and can thus be attributed to affiliated or connected groups of Neanderthals. A widely interdisciplinary consortium will then aim at defining the characteristics of the assumed Quina entity, how it evolved in time and potentially diffused in space across Europe. High-resolution OSL dating, based on new Bayesian models allowing cutting-edge uncertainties (~2-3%) for periods beyond the radiocarbon dating range, will be implemented to obtain a tight chronological framework and tie the archaeological record with palaeo-environments. Tool production and use, as a function of raw material availability and procurement, will be studied based on a technological and techno-functional approach. The influence of varying climates and environments on the Quina subsistence strategies – approached in terms of both food acquisition and storage – will be deciphered. Palaeo-anthropological and genetic studies will aim at defining the biological identity of the makers of Quina Mousterian, and possible human migrations associated with its diffusion. Eventually, the Quina World project will allow discussing the potentially oldest regionalisation and cultural diffusion patterns of Europe, and shed new light on the array and complexity of Neanderthal behaviours.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 620 711,50
75794 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 620 711,50

Beneficiaries (2)