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Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry
Archaeological industry
An archaeological industry, normally just "industry", is the name given in the study of prehistory to a consistent range of assemblages connected with a single product, such as the Langdale axe industry...

) associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

and dating to the Middle Paleolithic
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

, the middle part of the Old Stone Age
Stone Age
The Stone Age is a broad prehistoric period, lasting about 2.5 million years , during which humans and their predecessor species in the genus Homo, as well as the earlier partly contemporary genera Australopithecus and Paranthropus, widely used exclusively stone as their hard material in the...



The culture was named after the type site
Type site
In archaeology a type site is a site that is considered the model of a particular archaeological culture...

 of Le Moustier
Le Moustier
Le Moustier is an archeological site consisting of two rock shelters in Peyzac-le-Moustier, Dordogne, France. It is known for a fossilized skull of the species Homo neanderthalensis that was discovered in 1909...

, a rock shelter in the Dordogne
Dordogne is a départment in south-west France. The départment is located in the region of Aquitaine, between the Loire valley and the High Pyrénées named after the great river Dordogne that runs through it...

 region of France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and also the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 and North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

. Handaxes, racloir
A racloir is a name given by archaeologists to a certain type of flint tool made by prehistoric peoples.It is created from a flint flake and looks like a large scraper. As well as being used for scraping hides and bark, it may also have been used as a knife. Racloirs are most associated with the...

s and points
Projectile point
In archaeological terms, a projectile point is an object that was hafted to a projectile, such as a spear, dart, or arrow, or perhaps used as a knife....

 constitute the industry; sometimes a Levallois technique
Levallois technique
The Levallois technique is a name given by archaeologists to a distinctive type of stone knapping developed by precursors to modern humans during the Palaeolithic period....

 or another prepared-core technique
Prepared-core technique
The prepared-core technique is means of producing stone tools by first preparing common stone cores that can then be shaped into the desired implement.-First evidence:...

 was employed in making the flint flakes.


Mousterian tools that have been found in Europe were made by Neanderthals and date from between 300,000 BP and 30,000 BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 (from Layer 2A dated 330 ± 5 ka, (OIS) 9 at Pradayrol, France). In Northern Africa and the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 they were also produced by anatomically modern humans. In the Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those produced by Qafzeh type modern humans. It may be an example of acculturation
Acculturation explains the process of cultural and psychological change that results following meeting between cultures. The effects of acculturation can be seen at multiple levels in both interacting cultures. At the group level, acculturation often results in changes to culture, customs, and...

 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
Châtelperronian was the earliest industry of the Upper Palaeolithic in central and south western France, extending also into Northern Spain. It derives its name from the site of la Grotte des Fées, in Châtelperron, Allier, France....

 industry around 35,000-29,000 BP.

Several Mousterian variants are known:
  • Denticulate Mousterian
  • Ferrassie Mousterian
  • Mousterian of Acheulean Tradition (MTA)
  • Quina Mousterian
    Quina Mousterian
    The Middle Palaeolithic or the "Age of the Neanderthals", is characterised by the occurrence of several Middle Palaeolithic cultures. One of the "lithic" or "stone" cultures is called "Quina Mousterian," one of several mousterian variants...

  • Typical Mousterian

See also

  • Neanderthal extinction hypotheses
    Neanderthal extinction hypotheses
    Neanderthal extinction hypotheses are theories about how Neanderthals became extinct around 30,000 years ago. Since their discovery, both the Neanderthals' place in the human family tree and their relation to modern Europeans has been hotly debated...

  • Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
    Synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures
    The synoptic table of the principal old world prehistoric cultures gives a rough picture of the relationships between the various principal cultures of prehistory outside the Americas, Antarctica, Australia and Oceania...

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