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 Roc de Marsal

Neandertal Burial? - A Second Pit

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In the first year of the present excavations (2004) a pit or cavity, measuring some 70 cm in width, 60 cm in height, and possibly dug through bedrock, was identified in the diagonal face of square M16.

In 2005, we cleaned back the front of this feature along the diagonal face that was left by Lafille. 

At this point its origins are still unclear (i.e., whether or not it was intentionally dug and/or filled), although more study of it in 2006 suggests that this unusual feature may of natural origin, namely a channel in the bedrock that was truncated by later erosion. 

Nonetheless, its location some 1.5m from the presumed pit that contained the Neanderthal child and the similarity of deposits to that feature (as described by Lafille in his notes), suggests that it can serve as an analogue for understanding and dating the deposition of the child. 

In the coming year we will concentrate on determining its origin (whether it was intentionally dug through bedrock or whether it formed there naturally) and its fill (whether it was intentionally filled by Neandertals or whether it filled in a manner similar the rest of the cave). 

Each of these possibilities implies different Neandertal behaviors and by analogy the results have important implications for whether or not the child was purposefully buried.

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