Thermoluminescence Dating of the Late Neanderthal Remains From Saint-Césaire

Nature. 1991 Jun 27;351(6329):737-9. doi: 10.1038/351737a0.


Anatomically modern humans have long been thought to have been responsible for the Aurignacian and Châtelperronian industries of the early Upper Palaeolithic of Western Europe, whereas the Middle Palaeolithic Mousterian industry has been attributed to Neanderthals. The presence of both Middle and Upper Palaeolithic strata at Saint-Césaire in France offers an excellent opportunity for studying the cultural transition between the two. Saint-Césaire is the only Châtelperronian site that has yielded really diagnostic hominid fossils, and the discovery there of Neanderthal remains alongside Châtelperronian tools cast doubt on the exclusive association between industries and taxon. We report thermoluminescence dates for 20 burnt flints from the site. Those found near the Neanderthal remains were dated at 36,300 +/- 2,700 years BP (before present), making this specimen the youngest Neanderthal dated so far. This date places the stratum close in age to several French but much younger than some Spanish Aurignacian sites believed to have been occupied by modern humans. The possibility of contact between the West European Neanderthals and the intrusive modern humans who replaced them cannot therefore be excluded.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthropology*
  • Archaeology*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • France
  • Hominidae*
  • Humans
  • Thermoluminescent Dosimetry
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Radioisotopes