La Ferrassie

Useful Information

Location: Near Le Bugue, Dordogne.
(44.952000, 0.938000)
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: LightIncandescent Electric Light System ArchaeologyAbri
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Louis Capitan, Denis 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 online
Henri Delporte (1984): Le Grand Abri de La Ferrassie. Fouilles 1968-1973, Paris 1984 ISBN 2-85399-034-6
Jean-Louis Heim (1982): Les enfants néandertaliens de La Ferrassie. Masson Paris 1982 ISBN 2-225-76351-8
Jean-Louis Heim (1976): Les hommes fossiles de La Ferrassie, Tome 1: Le gisement. Les Squelettes adultes. Masson Paris 1976 ISBN 978-2225437250
Jean-Louis Heim (1982): Les hommes fossiles de La Ferrassie, Tome 2: Les Squelettes adultes: squelette des membranes. Masson Paris 1982
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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1896 excavations by Denis Peyrony and Louis Capitan.
17-SEP-1909 Neanderthal skull discovered by Louis Capitan.
1968-1973 excavations by Henri Delporte.
2009-2015 excavations by Harold L. Dibble.


Locals visiting at La Ferrassie site 1908. Denis Peyrony second from the right. Abri La Ferrassie, France.
Neanderthal man, reconstruction. Abri La Ferrassie, France.

The Abri La Ferrassie is a rock shelter, in French an abri, near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. It is famous for the discovery of a fossilized skull of the Homo neanderthalensis. The discovery was made by Louis 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 important 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 three eras of the Stone Age, Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, and 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.