The Archaeological Record of Iberian Neanderthal Extinction
Châtelperronian Neanderthals replaced Mousterian Neanderthals on the Iberian Pennisula between 45,500 to 43,000 years ago
In a paper published in PLOS One1, Neanderthals were experiencing their own cultural shifts before being replaced by Homo sapiens. During their final few millennia, researchers who published this paper examined the Châtelperronian culture. This culture is unique to Neanderthals from France and the Iberian peninsula.
They specifically examined over 5,000 stone tools from a Châtelperronian site called Aranbaltza II in Barrika, Spain. These artifacts date to 45,500 years ago which is about 5,500 or so years before the last Neanderthal presence.
Comparing these tools to other sites in the region, they identified that the Châtelperronian culture did not derive from older regional Neanderthal technologies, such as the Mousterian, but rather from elsewhere. This suggests the Neanderthals who were making Châtelperronian stone tools migrated to the Iberian peninsula… Possibly from France.
The Châtelperronian culture did not come from Homo sapiens either. Instead, older Neanderthal populations were replaced by the Châtelperronian Neanderthals who occupied Iberia until 43,000 years ago… who were then replaced by Homo sapiens.
This is an interesting study because these patterns in local Neanderthal cultural shifts provide a more granular window into prehistoric life. I welcome these kinds of publications as they challenge the preconceived notion of one wiped-out event for Neanderthals but they had their own complicated cultural shifts way before another species replaced them. Please let me know what you think of this and share if you know of any other similar studies.
Rios-Garaizar, J., Iriarte, E., Arnold, L. J., Sánchez-Romero, L., Marín-Arroyo, A. B., San Emeterio, A., Gómez-Olivencia, A., Pérez-Garrido, C., Demuro, M., Campaña, I., Bourguignon, L., Benito-Calvo, A., Iriarte, M. J., Aranburu, A., Arranz-Otaegi, A., Garate, D., Silva-Gago, M., Lahaye, C., & Ortega, I. (2022). The intrusive nature of the Châtelperronian in the Iberian Peninsula. PloS One, 17(3), e0265219. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265219