La Ferrassie

The sagittal section through the large rock shelter at La Ferrassie

La Ferrassie is an archaeological site in Savignac-de-Miremont, in the Dordogne department, France.[1] The site, located in the Vézère valley,[2] consists of a large and deep cave flanked by two rock shelters[3] within a limestone cliff, under which there is a scree slope formation.[1]


Vulva engraving from the rock shelter

Artifacts found at the site are the productions of Mousterian (300-30,000 BP), Aurignacian (45–35,000 BP), and Périgordian (35–20,000 BP) cultures.[4] The cave area contains Gravettian (32–22,000 BP) objects and the scree contains objects from all these ages as well as the Châtelperronian (35-29,000 PB). The site was abandoned during the Gravettian period (27 kya).[3] Complex Mousterian burial structures found at La Ferrasie finally provided the evidence of Neanderthal burial practice.[5]

Exploration history

A small area of the site was initially investigated by M. Tabanou in 1896,[3] a teacher who died of a landslide at the Badegoule rock shelter shortly thereafter.[6] Denis Peyrony and Louis Capitan explored the site in 1905, 1907 and 1912; Peyrony in 1934, Henri Delporte in 1969 and 1984, and Delporte with Tuffreau in 1984.[4][1]


Eight buried Neanderthals have been found in La Ferrassie, including infants and two fetuses.[7]

Name Geological
age (Kya)
mental age
La Ferrassie 1 68–74 45 The skeleton of an adult male, including the most complete Neanderthal skull ever found.[7] Discovered in 1909.[3]
La Ferrassie 2 68–74 25–30 An incomplete cranium and skeleton of a female Neanderthal found in 1910 and dated to 68-74,000 before present. This is now kept in the Musée de l'Homme.[3]
La Ferrassie 6 68–74 3–5 Nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile discovered in 1921.[3]
La Ferrassie 8   2,5 Another Neanderthal of approximately two and a half years of age, found in 1982.[8]



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Coordinates: 44°57′07″N 0°56′17″E / 44.95194°N 0.93806°E / 44.95194; 0.93806

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