|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, Haua Fteah|
|Preceded by||Micoquien, Clactonian|
|Followed by||Châtelperronian, Emireh culture, Aterian|
(c. 3.3 Ma – 300 ka)
(300–45 ka) Upper Paleolithic
↓ Stone Age
Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis). They date 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 around 160,000 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 found in Haua Fteah in Cyrenaica and other sites in Northwest Africa.
- Contained within a cave in the Syria region, along with a Neanderthaloid skeleton.
- Located in the Haibak valley of Afghanistan.
- Zagros and Central Iran
- The archaeological site of Atapuerca, Spain, contains Mousterian objects.
- Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar contains Mousterian objects.
- Uzbekistan has sites of Mousterian culture, including Teshik-Tash.
- Turkmenistan also has Mousterian relics.
- Siberia has many sites with Mousterian style implements, eg Denisova Cave.
Range of Homo neanderthalensis. Mousterian industries have been found outside this range (e.g., Jordan, Saudi Arabia).
- Neanderthal extinction hypotheses
- Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
- Levallois technique
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600,000 years before present — 40,000 years before present