La Ferrassie - Summary

La Ferrassie is actually a set of sites including a large cave, apparently completely excavated, and the so-called large shelter for which the site is famous. Here the remains of two nearly complete Neandertal skeletons and several additional partially preserved Neandertals were discovered a little over 100 years ago by Peyrony and Capitan. They reported that the skeletons were found in pits making La Ferrassie one of the most important data points for assessing Neandertal mortuary behavior.

In the late 60s and 70s, H. Delporte straightened the profile left by Peryony and Capitan and in doing so obtained new samples mainly from the Upper Paleolithic portion of the sequence. After this the geology of the site was also studied by first Texier and then Bertran. Among other observations, they noted that the shelter was in fact a cave cut open by the adjacent valley.

In 2010, we reopened a previously uninvestigated portion of the site adjacent to the modern road. Here we discovered new deposits that contain the classic sequence and are just a few meters from the find location of the La Ferrassie 2 skeleton. Work is on-going to date the sequence, to better understand the formation of the deposits and the context of the skeletons, to reconstruct the paleo-environment, to study Neandertal subsistence, and to re-evaluate their stone technology.