Summary of the discoveries made during the course of excavations at the Paleolithic cave site of Fontéchevade, France, between 1994 and 1998. The excavation team address major problems raised by earlier excavations at the site from 1937 to 1954. These earlier excavations produced two sets of problematic data : first, the Lower Paleolithic stone tool industry, the Tayacian, that differs in fundamental ways from other contemporary industries, second, the human skull fragment that has been interpreted as modern in nature but that apparently dates from the last interglacial, long before there is any evidence for humans from any other site in Europe. By applying modern stratigraphic, lithic, faunal, geological, geophysical, and radiometric analyses, the interdisciplinary team demonstrates that the Tayacian 'industry' is a product of site formation processes and that the actual age of the Fontéchevade I fossil is compatible with other evidence for the arrival of modern humans in Europe.
• Authors use up-to-date archaeological methods, techniques and equipment for their research (stone analysis, soil analysis, carbon dating, etc.) • Paleolithic (Ice Age) archaeology - the book deals with the earliest stone age. The discoveries pertain to what were believed to have been among the earliest stone tools used by hominids in Europe • As a result of their discovery, the cave remains are more in line with what has been found in other caves dated to the same period and therefore does not stand out as an anomaly, as it has believed to have been for the last 50+ years
Part I. Introduction, Background, and Methodology Philip G. Chase, André Debénath, Harold L. Dibble and Shannon P. McPherron: 1. Introduction and background; 2. Introduction to the 1994–8 excavations; Part II. Specialized Analyses: 3. Sedimentology and stratigraphy at Fontéchevade William R. Farrand; 4. Paleoclimate delineation using magnetic susceptibility data Brooks B. Ellwood; 5. Electrical resistivity survey of Fontéchevade Shannon P. McPherron and Brooks B. Ellwood; 6. The fossil human remains Philip G. Chase and Virginie Teilhol; 7. Radiometric dates Philip G. Chase, Henry P. Schwarcz and Thomas W. Stafford, Jr; 8. Faunal taphonomy Philip G. Chase and Jean-François Tournepiche; 9. The fauna from Henri-Martin's excavation of bed Jean-François Tournepiche; 10. The Upper Paleolithic of Fontéchevade Laurent Chiotti; 11. Description of the lithic industries Harold L. Dibble and Shannon P. McPherron; Part III. Analysis and Conclusions Philip G. Chase, André Debénath, Harold L. Dibble and Shannon P. McPherron: 12. Processes of site formation and their implications; 13. Summary and conclusions.
'The publication of [The Cave of] Fontechevade is a chronicle of both the value and the difficulty of reanalyzing material from early excavations. This study makes clear the importance of pairing studies of museum collections with renewed fieldwork, even if this fieldwork is on a modest scale. The results have removed the Fontechevade fossils from their position as early evidence of modern human morphology in Europe and delivered a serious blow to the concept of the Tayacian. At the same time, the study presents Fontechevade as a significant site for understanding site formation processes and hominin behaviour in the Middle Paleolithic and makes it clear that the research potential of the site is far from exhausted.' Michael Chazan, Geoarchaeology: An International Journal