|Dates||600,000 - 40,000 BP|
|Type site||Le Moustier|
|Major sites||Creswell Crags, Lynford Quarry, Arcy-sur-Cure, Vindija Cave, Atapuerca Mountains, Zafarraya, Gorham's Cave, Devil's Tower|
|Preceded by||Micoquien, Clactonian|
|Followed by||Châtelperronian, Emireh culture, Aterian|
↓ Stone Age
Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) and dating to the Middle Paleolithic, the middle part of the European Old Stone Age.
The culture was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France. Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe and also the Near East and North Africa. Handaxes, racloirs and points constitute the industry; sometimes a Levallois technique or another prepared-core technique was employed in making the flint flakes.
Mousterian tools that have been found in Europe were made by Neanderthals and date from between 600,000 BP and 40,000 BP Some assemblages, namely those from Pech de l’Aze, include exceptionally small points prepared using the Levallois technique among other prepared core types, causing some researchers to suggest that these flakes take advantage of greater grip strength possessed by Neanderthal physiology. In North Africa and the Near East, Mouseterian tools were also produced by anatomically modern humans. In the Levant, for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those made by Qafzeh type modern humans. It may be an example of acculturation of modern humans by Neanderthals because the culture after 130,000 years reached the Levant from Europe (the first Mousterian industry appears there 200,000 BP) and the modern Qafzeh type humans appear in the Levant another 100,000 years later.
Possible variants are Denticulate, Charentian (Ferrassie & Quina) named after the Charente region, Typical and the Acheulean Tradition (MTA) - Type-A and Type-B. The industry continued alongside the new Châtelperronian industry during the 45,000-40,000 BP period.
- Mousterian artifacts have been located in sites in Northwest Africa.
- The archaeological site of Atapuerca, Spain, contains Mousterian objects.
- Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar contains Mousterian objects.
Range of Homo neanderthalensis
According to the Toba catastrophe theory, the global human population sharply decreased to 3,000–10,000 surviving individuals circa 70000 BCE It is estimated that the total Homo neanderthalensis population across Afro-Eurasia numbered at around 70,000 at its peak before the arrival of Homo sapiens
- Neanderthal extinction hypotheses
- Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
- Levallois technique
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- O'Neill, Dennis. "Evolution of Modern Humans: Neanderthals", Palomar College, June 10, 2011, accessed August 21, 2011.
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600,000 years before present — 40,000 years before present