Mousterian Culture

Also found in: Dictionary.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mousterian Culture


the latest stage of the Lower Paleolithic. It follows the Acheulian culture and precedes the cultures of the Upper Paleolithic. Many archaeologists identify the culture as Middle Paleolithic.

The Mousterian culture was first identified in the late 1860’s by G. Mortillet. It was named after Le Moustier cave in southwestern France, in the department of Dordogne. The culture was widespread in Europe (south of 50° N lat.), North Africa, the Middle East, and Middle Asia. Geologically it is dated to the Upper Pleistocene, the end of the Riss-Wüirm interglacial period, and the first half of the Wiirm glaciation of Europe. Remains of the late Mousterian culture in Europe have been dated by the radiocarbon method to 53–33 millennia B.C.; the culture’s emergence may date to 100–80 millennia B.C.

The Mousterian technique of working stone is characterized by disk-shaped and faceted striking platforms, from which rather wide flakes were chipped off and fashioned into various implements by making ridges along the edges (side-scrapers, points, perforators, knives). The working of bone was poorly developed. There are many variants of the Mousterian culture, which are often found in the same area.

The bearers of the Mousterian culture were the Neanderthal men, who lived in caves, in the open, and sometimes in dwellings made from the hides and large bones of mammoths. They engaged in gathering and in hunting mammoths, cave bears, and other animals. Neanderthal burials attest to the emergence of religious beliefs.


Efimenko, P. P. Pervobytnoe obshchestvo, 3rd ed. Kiev, 1953.
Grigor’ev, G. P. Nachalo verkhnego paleolita i proiskhozhdenie Homo Sapiens. Leningrad, 1968.
Bordes, F. Le Paléolithique dans le monde. Paris, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The results challenge the widespread assumption that a gap of several thousand years existed between the end of western Europe's Mousterian culture, characterized by simple stone tools linked to the Neanderthals, and the Aurignacian entrance into the same region, says James L.
Charcoal from the second cave indicates the Mousterian culture ended about 40,400 years ago.