Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Enloe, James G.

First Committee Member

Bettis, E. Arthur, III

Second Committee Member

Ciochon, Russell L.

Third Committee Member

Franciscus, Robert G.

Fourth Committee Member

Hill, Matthew E.


The adoption of bone tool technology in the Early Upper Palaeolithic of Europe by Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans has been the focus of considerable debate. In particular this debate has focused on the origins of the technology and the possible implications for the extinction of Neanderthals. This dissertation examines the context of element selection for use as raw material to produce bone tools, related to prey species in the Châtelperronian of the Grotte du Renne, Arcy-sur Cure and the Aurignacian of Abri Cellier, Dordogne.

Current research indicates that there was little difference in the subsistence organization of Neanderthals and modern humans. As a more nuanced view of Neanderthal behavior emerges from recent studies, it is becoming apparent that differences between the two hominins are a matter of degree rather than absolute difference. The faunal analysis of the two assemblages in this dissertation found that both Neanderthals and modern humans were pursuing a foraging strategy to obtain prime age herbivores for food. Locally available taxa were taken. Carcasses were processed for meat, marrow and fat.

Both assemblages show a preference for non-marrow bearing long bones or long bone shaft fragments to make tools. The raw material was chosen with reference to the mechanical properties of the bones, which exhibit elasticity necessary for use as awls or hide scrapers. Raw material was a by-product of the larger subsistence strategy. There is a difference in the use of antler. This is not used by Neanderthals. In the Aurignacian, it appears that the amount of antler represented by the points and tools at Abri Cellier could be obtained as part of a general foraging strategy.

The appearance of bone tools in the Early Upper Palaeolithic has been argued as evidence for `modern' behavior. It might be more profitable to view the adoption of this new technology as a response by two different but related populations to particular ecological problems. It could be argued that the archaeological visibility of bone tools reflects an increasing investment in the production of more effective clothing by both Neanderthals and modern humans.


Abri Cellier, Aurignacian, bone tools, Chatelperronian, Grotte du Renne, Zooarchaeology


xix, 393 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 352-393).


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Copyright © 2013 Clare Tolmie

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