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The Middle Paleolithic occupations of Mutzig-Rain (Alsace, France)

Abstract : The Paleolithic site of Mutzig, discovered by chance in 1992 (Sainty, 1992), has been the focus of several excavations since 2009. Located in Alsace (Bas-Rhin, France), it is presently one of only a handful of sites reliably attributed to the Middle Paleolithic in this area; it thus provides rare evidence for a zone still relatively unknown for Early Prehistoric remains. The excellent preservation of the remains and the long stratigraphic sequence, with 6 to 8 in situ archaeological levels, make Mutzig a potential reference site for environmental and behavioral analyses for the Middle Paleolithic of the region. At least four archaeological levels contain burnt elements, and one level features a hearth structure. Taken together, the archaeological material, which is abundant in each of the different layers, forms an assemblage of more than 3000 faunal remains and more than 1500 lithic artifacts. Analyses of this site provides valuable insights into the environment and Neandertal ways of life in Alsace. In this paper, we present only the general results, more detailed presentations of the lithic and faunal remains will be presented in other papers (Diemer, this volume; Sévêque, this volume). The faunal remains recovered from the human occupations in levels 5 and 7 reflect the same relatively cold steppe-like environmental context and include reindeer, woolly mammoth, steppe horse, steppe bison and woolly rhinoceros. Small vertebrates also indicate a cold climate, but not related to the Pleniglacial. Confirmed isotopic data (oxygen and carbon isotope measurements of horse and mammoth teeth) indicate temperatures lower than those of today and an open environment. Levels 9 and 10, however, tend to reveal a more temperate climate. The available OSL and ESR/U-series dates place the Mutzig occupations within the Early Weichselian Glacial (MIS 5, ca. 90,000 BP), an attribution which biometric analyses and large and small fauna record tend to corroborate (Koehler et al., 2016a).
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Submitted on : Wednesday, October 7, 2020 - 2:41:04 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 24, 2022 - 3:42:31 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02960204, version 1


Héloïse Koehler, Fabio Wegmüller, Benjamin Audiard, P. Auguste, Jean-Jacques Bahain, et al.. The Middle Paleolithic occupations of Mutzig-Rain (Alsace, France). Koehler H., Conard N., Floss H., Lamotte A. eds. The Rhine during the Middle Paleolithic : boundary or corridor ?, 2021, ISBN:978-3-935751-35-3. ⟨hal-02960204⟩



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