Nouvelle Aquitaine Section
La Micoque Neanderthal shelter - Dordogne
Discovery of La Micoque
La Micoque is situated on the right bank of the Vézère and about 500m inland near the village of Manaurie.
A small lane, which originates on the D47 road leading to Périgueux - accesses it.
Mr Rivière, a local landowner discovered La Micoque in 1895.
He was plowing one of his fields when he noticed that flints similar to those found at Les Eyzies were coming up the surface of the soil.
The first excavations began in 1896 and took place with almost no interruption until 1932.
These excavations obviously benefited from modern and more acute investigative techniques as the years went by!
Researchers were therefore able to date more accurately the age of the sedimentary deposits and fossil remains of fauna and flora.
It also seems that a large rock protected the shelter.
Strata sediments indeed revealed the presence of limestone coming either from the collapse of the cliff or from the rock shelter's roof.
The sedimentary strata extend over a height of 10m and represent 300,000 years of occupation.
The shelter was indeed occupied from 400,000BP to 130,000BP.
La Micoque, a Neanderthal site
Sediments also revealed different and successive layers of prehistoric sediments.
One dates from the Acheulean - stone tool industry associated with early humans during the Lower Paleolithic.
Two groups of deposits date from the Mousterian - flint tools industry - Middle Paleolithic.
La Micoque Deposit is therefore a Neanderthal site.
The oldest flint tools found in the site are quite coarse and consist of small broad flakes and rough flake tools.
They are the oldest stone tools known to date in Périgord!
Their discovery led archaeologists to assimilate the name of the village Tayac with a period of prehistory since known as Tayacian.
The Tayacian mainly defines the stone tools found in La Micoque; it's contemporary with the Acheulean but is devoid of bi-faces.
Bi-faces corresponding to the Acheulean industry were found in an upper layer.
These tools, most likely scrapers or backed knives, present a sharp edge.
They are also slightly concave, have a thick heel and a more refined end.
La Micoque, the most ancient prehistoric deposit in Périgord, has obviously become a key element in the interpretation and understanding of the Lower and Middle Paleolithic.
It is a listed Historical Monument.
The findings are displayed in the National Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil.
It is open to the public, however, visits are only allowed as part of a tour group; reservation can be made at the Ticket Office in Font de Gaume in town.
Department of Dordogne - Les Eyzies de Tayac Sireuil
Coordinates: Lat 44.953884 - Long 1.010447