La Ferrassie

Useful Information

Open: All year Tue 10.
Booking and tickets at the ShowcaveGrotte de Font-de-Gaume
Fee: Adults EUR 3, Children (0-17) free, Reduced EUR 2.50, Students (18-25) from the EU free, Disabled free, Unemployed free.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 2.80.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric.
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: L. Capitan, D. Peyrony (1910): Deux squelettes humains au milieu de foyers de l'époque moustérienne, Bulletins et Mémoires de la Société d'anthropologie de Paris, Année 1910, Volume 1, Numéro 1 p. 48 - 56
Address: Hall d'accueil de Font-de-Gaume, 4 avenue des Grottes, 24620 Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Tel: +33-553-068600, Fax: +33-553-352618 E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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17-SEP-1909 Neanderthal skull discovered by L. Capitan.


The Abri La Ferrassie is a rock shelter, in French abri, near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. It is famous for the discovery of a fossilized skull of the species Homo neanderthalensis. The discovery was made by L. Capitan in 1909 and is named La Ferrassie 1. The skull with its large occipital bun, low-vaulted cranium and heavily worn teeth is estimated to be 70,000 years old. During later excavations a total of eight Neanderthal individuals, two adults and six children, were discovered. The discoveries from La Ferrassie 1 and Kebara 1 allowed the Smithonian Institute the currently most complete skeleton reconstruction of a Neanderthal.

The second imortant remains at the site are the so-called Cupules. This is a series of small holes or pits. They form rather irregular patterns and their use or intention is absolutely unknown. Normally they are considered to be the oldest form of art, the primitive predecessor. On the other hand such pits were made during all all three eras of the Stone Age, Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, ande even in historic times. Probably the reasons and meanings changed, and the pits were just the way to express something without the need to learn more complicated techniques. Actually the pits are not simply holes in the rock, there are spherical caps which look very sophisticated.

The site was excavated at the beginning of the 20th century by Louis Capitan and Denis Peyrony. Stone tools and other signs of human occupation were uncovered, which prove a human occupation of the site during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. This includes the Mousterian, Chatelperronian, Aurignacian, and Perigoridian.