The Stone Age
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before Homo (Pliocene)

Wild Animals Stone tool

Lower Paleolithic
Early Stone Age
Control of fire by early humans
Middle Paleolithic
Middle Stone Age
Homo neanderthalensis
Homo sapiens
Recent African origin of modern humans
Upper Paleolithic
Late Stone Age
Behavioral modernity, Atlatl,
Origin of the domestic dog


Microliths, Bow, Canoe


Heavy Neolithic
Pre-Pottery Neolithic
Neolithic Revolution,
Pottery Neolithic

Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis and dating to the Middle Paleolithic, the middle part of the Old Stone Age.



The culture was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France.[1] 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 tool from France
A Quina Mousterian bone tool possibly used to push needles (i.e. a Neanderthal thimble) from France. (This is the Proximal Phalanges from a big toe).

Mousterian tools that have been found in Europe were made by Neanderthals and date from between 300,000 BP and 30,000 BP (from Layer 2A dated 330 ± 5 ka, (OIS) 9 at Pradayrol, France).[2] In Northern Africa and the Near East they were also produced by anatomically modern humans. In the Levant for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those produced by Qafzeh type modern humans.[3] 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.

It was superseded by the Châtelperronian industry around 35,000-29,000 BP.[citation needed]

Several Mousterian variants are known:

  • Denticulate Mousterian
  • Ferrassie Mousterian
  • Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition (MTA)
  • Quina Mousterian
  • Typical Mousterian

See also


  1. ^ The importance of the cave site of Le Moustier lies not in the partial skeleton located there, but in the tool assemblage recovered, which gives the name to the "Mousterian" tool tradition.
  2. ^ Skinner et al., ʺNew ESR Dates for a New Bone‐Bearing Layer at Pradayrol, Lot, Franceʺ 2007, "Abstracts of the PaleoAnthropology Society 2007 Meetings." PaleoAnthropology 2007:A1-A35
  3. ^ Shea, J. J., 2003: Neandertals [sic], competition and the origin of modern human behaviour in the Levant, Evolutionary Anthropology, 12:173-187.

External links

Preceded by
300,000–30,000 BP
Succeeded by

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mousterian — [mo͞os tir′ē ən] adj. [Fr moustérien: remains were found at Le Moustier, cave in S France] designating or of a Middle Paleolithic culture, associated with the Neanderthal cave people and characterized by the use of flaked hand axes, scrapers, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Mousterian Pluvial — The Mousterian Pluvial was an extended wet and rainy period in the climate history of North Africa. It occurred during the Upper Paleolithic era, beginning around 50,000 years before the present (ybp), lasting 20,000 years, and ending around… …   Wikipedia

  • Mousterian industry — Tool culture traditionally associated with the Neanderthals in Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa during the early fourth (Würm) glacial period (с 40,000 BC). The Mousterian tool assemblage included small hand axes made from disk shaped… …   Universalium

  • Mousterian — adjective Etymology: French moustérien, from Le Moustier, cave in Dordogne, France Date: 1890 of or relating to a Middle Paleolithic culture that is characterized by well made flake tools often considered the work of Neanderthal man …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Mousterian — /mooh stear ee euhn/, adj. Anthropol. 1. of or pertaining to a Middle Paleolithic culture of Neanderthal man dating to the early upper Pleistocene Epoch (c100,000 40,000 B.C.) and consisting of five or more stone artifact traditions in Europe… …   Universalium

  • Mousterian — [mu: stɪərɪən] adjective Archaeology relating to or denoting the main culture of the Middle Palaeolithic period in Europe, between the Acheulian and Aurignacian periods (chiefly 80,000–35,000 years ago). Origin C19: from Fr. moustiérien, from Le… …   English new terms dictionary

  • mousterian — mous·te·ri·an …   English syllables

  • Mousterian — Mous•te•ri•an or Mous•tie•ri•an [[t]muˈstɪər i ən[/t]] adj. ara of or designating a Middle Paleolithic toolmaking tradition, cl00,000–40,000 b.c. characterized by side scrapers and points and generally ascribed to the Neanderthals • Etymology:… …   From formal English to slang

  • Mousterian — /muˈstɪəriən/ (say mooh stearreeuhn) adjective 1. relating to Palaeolithic human relics displaying the skill, finish, and character of the flint scrapers found in the sands of south western France. 2. relating to human relics of this part of the… …  

  • mousterian — adj. Archaeol. of or relating to the flint workings of the middle palaeolithic epoch, dated to c.70,000 30,000 BC, and attributed to Neanderthal peoples. Etymology: F mousteacuterien f. Le Moustier in SW France, where remains were found …   Useful english dictionary

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