La Ferrassie

The La Ferrassie project was a large, multi-year project funded by the National Science Foundation and the French government at the famous Neanderal site in southwest France. The excavation focused on a previously overlooked triangle of intact sediments in the western portion of the site. This deposit was well preserved, contained the complete La Ferrassie sequence, and is not far from the find location of the La Ferrassie 1 and 2 skeletons. The goals of the project were to shed new light on the context of the Neandertal skeletons and particularly the question of whether they represent burials, to provide ages for the sequence, to reconstruct the paleoenvironmental context of the deposits, and to better understand the stone tool industries which include a Mousterian with bifaces under a Ferrassie Mousterian, a Chatelperronian and an Aurignacian. La Ferrassie is one of the few sites in southwest France that preserves the Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition when modern humans replaced Neandertals in western Europe. Currently most of the analysis of the excavated materials and their context has been completed. We have published two papers on the dating of the sequence, a paper on the paleoenvironmental context of two of the Middle Paleolithic layers, and a paper on the context of the La Ferrassie 8 skeleton (this project was embedded within our project but did not include our full team). We are currently preparing a monograph on our excavations. Here we give a brief overview of the history of the site and our excavations.