Neanderthal Hunting Weapons Re-Assessed: A Tip Cross-Sectional Area Analysis of Middle Palaeolithic Point Assemblages from South Eastern France

Marlize Lombard, Marie Hélène Moncel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There are many opinions and arguments about the types of weapons that Neanderthals may have used. We list five assumptions about Neanderthal weapon-assisted hunting and suggest that the tip cross-sectional area (TCSA) approach may be used to assess these, and to provide a hypothetical overview of stone-tipped weaponry used in south eastern France between MIS 7 and MIS 3. We analysed stone points from Abri du Maras, Saint-Marcel, Grotte du Figuier, and Payre, and discuss possible hunting strategies in tandem with faunal evidence. Our results suggest that early Neanderthals may have hunted with bimanual thrusting spears in combination with one-handed stabbing spears, but that later groups possibly introduced javelin hunting to the Neanderthal arsenal. Stone-tipped assegais or one-handed stabbing spears, however, stand out as the Neanderthal weapons of choice throughout the Middle Palaeolithic, and we discuss the adaptive advantages of hunting with these weapons. Comparative results that include assemblages from elsewhere in the Old World suggest similarities in hunting with stone-tipped weapons between Neanderthal and H. sapiens before MIS 5, marked differences during MIS 5–4, but similarities again during MIS 3. We suggest that caution is needed when attributing MIS 3 point assemblages to Neanderthals based on age and/or technology only.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalQuaternary
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

Keywords

  • ballistic features
  • javelins
  • stabbing spears
  • stone points
  • thrusting spears
  • visuo-spatial integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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