Abri du Moustier

Le Moustier - Abri du Moustérien

Useful Information

Location: In Peyzac-le-Moustier.
(44.994208, 1.059784)
Open: All year Thu 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 ArchaeologyAbri
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: B. Maureille (2002): A lost Neanderthal neonate found, Nature. 419, 2002, S. 33-34..
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
Gisement du Moustier, 24620 Peyzac-le-Moustier, 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.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1860 first excavation by Édouard Armand Lartet and Henry Christy.
1907 excavation by Otto Hauser.
1909 skull of Homo neanderthalensis discovered.
1910 purchased by the French government.
1979 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


Although often named Abri Le Moustier, this archaeological site actually consists of two rock shelters near Peyzac-le-Moustier. The Moustérien, a period of the Palaeolithic, which lasted from 120,000 to 40,000 BP was named after this type locale. The name was first used by Édouard Armand Lartet and Henry Christy who made the first excavation in 1860. They described the discovered stone tools as Moustiérien ("from Moustier"). Later the name was adopted by Gabriel de Mortillet and shortened to Moustérien.

There are two abris, one above the other. The upper abri is located 15 m above the valley floor, the lower one at the valley floor. The first excavation was made in the upper abri, which was filled completely by sediments. It revealed so-called MTA (Moustérien de tradition acheuléenne) at the bottom, the Moustérien, followed by lower and middle Aurignacien. In 1930 Denis Peyrony published a detailed description of the stratigraphy. Today the upper abri is completely excavated.

The excavations were revived after a longer pause by the Swiss archaeologist Otto Hauser in 1907. He was the first to choose the lower abri. Here he discovered in 1908 the skeleton of a juvenil Neandertal. It was salvaged by the anthropologist Hermann Klaatsch from Breslau later that year.

Otto Hauser also discovered the man from Combe Capelle in 1909. He sold both skeletons to the Königliches Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin. The museum was bombed during World War II and the skeletons except for some bone fragments destroyed. At this time it was common to sell the discoveries to fund the archaeological work. They were not only sold to museums, but also to private collectors. Denis Peyrony tried to stop this by buying the site in the name of the French government. He purchased this location in 1910, and soon discovered the skeleton of a Neanderthal child.

The lucky find of the child skeleton caused a sort of mystery story which was revealed in 2002. The skeleton was presented to the public after its discovery. Then it should be transported for further examinations to Paris. But it vanished mysteriously, presumably on its way to Paris. In 2002 an anthropologist followed its traces and discovered it in the magazin of the Musée National de Préhistoire in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil.

The Neanderthal discoveries of the lower abri belong to a sedimentary level dated between 56,000 and 40,000 years BP. The remains were covered by river sediments of the Vézère and thus protected. The reason is the location in the niveau of the valley floor.