MP Gallery - Fontmaure, France; La Roche-Cotard, France; El Guettar, Tunisia; d) loirenmaskbbc

Site: La Roche-Cotard, Langeais (Indre-et-Loire), France. Secure, Layer 7c, Mousterien of Acheulian Tradition, probably Neanderthal. Flint block. Found 2002 in the entrance of la Roche-Cotard on the banks of the Loire River, dating back to about 33,000 BCE.

Identification: Jean-Claude Marquet and Michel Lorblanchet. (2003). A Neanderthal face? The proto-figurine from La Roche-Cotard, Langeais (Indre-et-Loire, France). Antiquity 77, 298: 661-670. The artifact is a piece of flat flint that has been shaped into the upper part of a face. "Combined work of nature and and art." Percussion flaking is evident and retouch, which gives the overall piece a regular shape and a certain symmetry. A splinter of bone pushed through a natural tubular hole in the stone represents eyes. Two little flint plaquettes were inserted into the hole to block the bone in place. It resembles "a human face or animal mask". The authors compare the piece to the Acheulian female figurine from Berekhat Ram (Israel); a bear head sculpted on a wooly rhincoceros vertebra (Transitional MP-UP; c. 35,000 BP, Tolbaga, Siberia); and a sculpted mammal bone, suggesting human body, from Srbsko (proto-Aurignacian, Bohemia, Czech Republic). Also in: M. Lorblanchet. 1999. La naissance de l’art: Genèse de l’art préhistoriques. Paris: Editions Errance: p. 144.

Photo © BBC News, Tuesday, 2 December, 2003;

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