Testing the Roc de Marsal Neandertal "Burial" with Geoarchaeology
The question of intentional Neanderthal interment continues to be debated in paleoanthropology. Among the criteria that can be used to investigate the intentionality of a burial, many of them rely on geoarchaeological data that speak to the context of the human remains. In this paper, we revisit the original attribution of the Roc de Marsal Neandertal infant as an intentional burial by evaluating the sedimentary context, pit structure, and taphonomical aspects of the remains and their integration with data from the most recent excavations at the site. From a geoarchaeological point of view, no clear anthropogenic ritual signature was found. On the contrary, all the available evidence points towards natural formation processes associated with the initial deposition and subsequent burial of the Roc de Marsal Neandertal infant.
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