La Ferrassie

La Ferrassie is an archaeological site in Savignac-de-Miremont, in the Dordogne department, France.[1] The site, located in the Vézère valley,[2] consists of a large and deep cave flanked by two rock shelters[3] within a limestone cliff, under which there is a scree slope formation.[1]

La Ferrassie
La Ferrassie
La Ferrassie
Location in France
La Ferrassie (France)
Locationnear Savignac-de-Miremont
RegionDordogne, France
Coordinates44°57′07″N 0°56′17″E


Artifacts found at the site are the productions of Mousterian (300-30,000 BP), Aurignacian (45–35,000 BP), and Périgordian (35–20,000 BP) cultures.[4] The cave area contains Gravettian (32–22,000 BP) objects and the scree contains objects from all these ages as well as the Châtelperronian (35-29,000 PB). The site was abandoned during the Gravettian period (27 kya).[3] Complex Mousterian burial structures found at La Ferrasie finally provided the evidence of Neanderthal burial practice.[5]

Exploration history

A small area of the site was initially investigated by M. Tabanou in 1896,[3] a teacher who died of a landslide at the Badegoule rock shelter shortly thereafter.[6] Denis Peyrony and Louis Capitan explored the site in 1905, 1907 and 1912; Peyrony in 1934, Henri Delporte in 1969 and 1984, and Delporte with Tuffreau in 1984.[4][1]


At least seven Neanderthals have been found in La Ferrassie, including infants and one[7] fetus. All specimens were found in a thin 60 cm archaeological layer dated to 74-68 thousand years ago.

Name Develop-
mental age
La Ferrassie 145The skeleton of an adult male, including the most complete Neanderthal skull ever found.[8] Discovered in 1909.[3]
La Ferrassie 225–30An incomplete cranium and skeleton of a female Neanderthal found in 1910 and dated to 68-74,000 before present. This is now kept in the Musée de l'Homme.[3]
La Ferrassie 310A partial child skeleton.[9]:30–31[10]
La Ferrassie 48.5 months
(fetal age)[9]
The bones of a late-term fetus or of a newborn. Now thought to belong to Le Moustier 2.[7]
La Ferrassie 4bis~12 days[10]:26A partial child skeleton.[9]:30–31[10]
La Ferrassie 5~7 months
(fetal age)[10]
La Ferrassie 63–5Nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile discovered in 1921.[3]
"La Ferrassie 7"A talus bone named LF7 by Boule (1924), who thought despite its small size that it represented a third adult. Now thought part of La Ferrassie 3.[10]:6
La Ferrassie 822–26 months[9]:41Young child with well-preserved teeth.


  1. Peregrine & Ember 2001
  2. Blades 1999, Abstract
  3. Wood 2011
  4. Blades 2009
  5. Binford 1968
  6. Peyrony 1934
  7. B. Maureille (2002). "Anthropology: A lost Neanderthal neonate found". Nature. 419 (33–34). doi:10.1038/419033a.
  8. Smithsonian 2010
  9. J.-L. Heim (1976). Les Hommes Fossiles de la Ferrassie. Le gisement. Les squelettes adultes (crâne et squelette du tronc). Archives de l'Institut de Paléontologie Humaine. 1. Paris: Masson.
  10. J.-L. Heim (1982). Les enfants néandertaliens de La Ferrassie. Paris: Masson. ISBN 2-225-76351-8.
  11. Balzeau and Radovčić (2008)


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