With National Science Foundation support, Dr. Arthur Jelinek will conduct three seasons of archaeological research at the site of La Quina which is located in the Charente region of France. This important Mousterian site has been the focus of this group for several years and the results to date well justify continued excavation. The site itself contains a series of stratified deposits which are extremely rich in both faunal and cultural remains. Human skeletal material has also been recovered. To date, approximately 6,000 lithic objects and 11,000 bones have been catalogued. Over the next three field seasons, the team will expand the excavations in all levels. Several approaches will be attempted to provide absolute dates for each level and archaeological materials will be analyzed to shed insight into Mousterian cultural and subsistence practices. Mousterian culture dates from the most recent part of the Pleistocene (Ice Age) and is associated with Neanderthal peoples who were the immediate predecessors to modern humans. In recent years, these Neanderthals have been the subject of intense archaeological debate. Some have argued that this group acted in ways significantly different from the succeeding Upper Paleolithic groups and lacked the capacity for modern culture. Others argue that Mousterian industries and the behaviors they reflect are quite complex. Unfortunately, little well collected data exists to permit examination of the issue and in this context the site of La Quina is particularly important because of the rich cultural materials it contains. The large faunal assemblage should permit reconstruction of Mousterian hunting techniques and demonstrate how these changed and developed over time. This research is important for several reasons. It will yield data of interest to a large group of archaeologists. It will provide insight into the background from which physically modern humans emerged and shed light on the process which led to this development. Because Dr. Jelinek includes many students in this project, it should aid in the scientific recruitment.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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John E. Yellen
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University of Arizona
United States
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