Mask of la Roche-Cotard

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The so-called Mask of la Roche-Cotard, also known as the "Mousterian Protofigurine", is a purported artifact dated to the Mousterian period, 33,000 years ago or earlier, found in 1975[1] in the entrance of a cave named La Roche-Cotard, territory of the commune of Langeais (Indre-et-Loire), on the banks of the Loire River.[2][3]

The artifact, possibly created by Neanderthal humans,[4] is a piece of flat flint that has been shaped in a way that seems to resemble the upper part of a face. A piece of bone pushed through a hole in the stone has been interpreted as a representation of eyes. Paul Bahn has suggested this "mask" is "highly inconvenient", as "It makes a nonsense of the view that clueless Neanderthals could only copy their cultural superiors the Cro-Magnons".[5] Though this may represent an example of artistic expression in Neanderthal humans,[6] some archaeologists question whether the artifact represents a face,[7] and some suggest that it may be practical rather than artistic.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Marquet, J C; M Lorblanchet (2003). "A Neanderthal face? The proto-figurine from La Roche-Cotard, Langeais (Indre-et-Loire, France)". Antiquity. 77.
  2. ^ Amos, Jonathan (2 December 2003). "Neanderthal 'face' found in Loire". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  3. ^ Palmer, Douglas (6 December 2003). "Neanderthal art alters the face of archaeology". New Scientist. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
  4. ^ Marquet, Jean-Claude; Lorblanchet, Michel (1 December 2003). "A Neanderthal face? The proto-figurine from La Roche-Cotard, Langeais (Indre-et-Loire, France)". Antiquity. 77 (298): 661–670. doi:10.1017/s0003598x00061627. ISSN 0003-598X.
  5. ^ Bahn, Paul (23 August 2003). "A bone to pick". New Scientist (2409).
  6. ^ Pettitt, Paul B (April 2003). "Is this the infancy of art? Or the art of an infant? A possible Neanderthal face from La Roche-Cotard, France" (PDF). Before Farming. Western Academic & Specialist Press. 11 (3). ISSN 1476-4261. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-02.
  7. ^ Chase, Philip G (2006). The emergence of culture: the evolution of a uniquely human way of life. Birkhäuser. p. 217. ISBN 9780387305127.
  8. ^ "But is it art?". Science. AAAS. 302 (5652): 1890. 12 December 2003. doi:10.1126/science.302.5652.1890a.

Further reading[edit]

  • M. Lorblanchet, La naissance de l'Art. Genèse de l'art préhistorique, Errances, 1999
  • Marquet J.-C., M. Lorblanchet, Le "Masque" moustérien de La Roche-Cotard, Langeais (Indre-et-Loire). Paléo, 2000, n° 12, p. 325-338.
  • Laurence Nicoud: L'art néandertalien: réalité et énigme. Archéologia (Paris): 407:6, January 2004
  • The Mousterian Protofigurine from La Roche-Cotard (France)

Coordinates: 47°20′12″N 0°25′34″E / 47.33667°N 0.42611°E / 47.33667; 0.42611