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The First Upper Paleolithic Human Remains from Belgium: Aurignacian, Gravettian, and Magdalenian Fossils at the “Troisième caverne” of Goyet

TitelThe First Upper Paleolithic Human Remains from Belgium: Aurignacian, Gravettian, and Magdalenian Fossils at the “Troisième caverne” of Goyet
PublicatietypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2013
AuteursRougier, H, Crevecoeur, I, Beauval, C, Flas, D, Bocherens, H, Wissing, C, Germonpré, M, Semal, P, van der Plicht, J
Conference NamePaleoAnthropology 2013
SamenvattingThere is ample evidence of human occupation across Northern Europe throughout various periods of the Upper Paleolithic. However, the biological characteristics of the Northern European Upper Paleolithic humans and their mortuary practices remain largely unknown because of a dearth of human fossils. In Belgium, although the presence of humans has been verified at multiple archeological sites, no Upper Paleolithic fossil has yet been identified. In this context, the recent discovery of Upper Paleolithic human remains at Goyet (Belgium) fills in an important chronological gap. The “Troisième caverne” of Goyet, excavated at the end of the 19th and early 20th century, yielded a rich archeological sequence ranging from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic to historical times. In 2008, we began documenting the Paleolithic occupations of the “Troisième caverne” by reassessing the collections from the site which heretofore had only been partially studied. The updated inventory of human remains was accomplished by conducting a detailed sorting of the paleontological collections in order to identify human remains that may have been overlooked thus far. As a result, the collections from the “Troisième caverne” now include nearly 200 human bones/bone fragments and isolated teeth that correspond to various materials from different periods. The morphometric study of the human specimens from Goyet, completed by direct radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis, shows that they represent two main samples—a series of Late Neandertal remains (Rougier et al. 2012) and a set of modern human specimens from three periods of the Upper Paleolithic, namely the Aurignacian, Gravettian, and Magdalenian. The latter include fragmentary elements from the cranial and infracranial skeleton. Interestingly, those from the Gravettian and Magdalenian present anthropogenic traces and ochre traces. We will discuss the importance of these new fossils in the context of the human population of Northern Europe during the Upper Paleolithic.
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