Neandertal cannibalism and Neandertal bones used as tools in Northern Europe

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Rougier, Hélène; Crevecoeur, Isabelle; Beauval, Cédric; Posth, Cosimo; Flas, Damien; Wißing, Christoph; Furtwängler, Anja; Germonpré, Mietje; Gómez-Olivencia, Asier; Semal, Patrick; van der Plicht, Johannes; Bocherens, Hervé; Krause, Johannes
Year of Publication: 2016
Journal: Scientific Reports
Volume: 6
Pagination: 29005 -
Date Published: 2016/07/06
Publication Language: eng

Almost 150 years after the first identification of Neandertal skeletal material, the cognitive and symbolic abilities of these populations remain a subject of intense debate. We present 99 new Neandertal remains from the Troisième caverne of Goyet (Belgium) dated to 40,500–45,500 calBP. The remains were identified through a multidisciplinary study that combines morphometrics, taphonomy, stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating and genetic analyses. The Goyet Neandertal bones show distinctive anthropogenic modifications, which provides clear evidence for butchery activities as well as four bones having been used for retouching stone tools. In addition to being the first site to have yielded multiple Neandertal bones used as retouchers, Goyet not only provides the first unambiguous evidence of Neandertal cannibalism in Northern Europe, but also highlights considerable diversity in mortuary behaviour among the region’s late Neandertal population in the period immediately preceding their disappearance.