A critical look at evidence from La Chapelle-aux-Saints supporting an intentional Neandertal burial
In a paper based on recent excavations and analysis of recovered material at the French Middle Paleolithic site of La Chapelle-aux-Saints, Rendu et al. (2014) concluded that there is sufficient evidence to support the long-held interpretation that the Neandertal remains found in the bouffia Bonneval locality represents an intentional Neandertal burial. This paper critically examines their data and arguments in relation to criteria that can be used to provide an objective evaluation of such evidence. In each case, the evidence from La Chapelle-aux-Saints either fails to meet these criteria or supports other interpretations equally well. As a result, this site fails to provide unequivocal evidence in support of the notion that Neandertals intentionally interred their dead, whether in any ritualistic or symbolic context or not.