Dr Marine Frouin was at the site of Grotte Mandrin, in the Middle Rhône valley of France in December obtaining samples for new TL and OSL dating. PalaeoChron is working at the site with the chief excavator, Dr Ludovic Slimak, and his team, continuing our long collaboration with the work there. The site is one of the few that contains evidence for the Neronian industry of the Rhône valley. Presently it is not known what human species were responsible for this industry, but interestingly it is clearly interstratified between Mousterian and Mousterian-like industries, present prior to the arrival of the Proto-Aurignacian. The archaeological levels consist of an upper sequence of six stratigraphic units (B to G) divided into 6 cultural phases. These include a Ferrassie Mousterian presence (couche G and F), a Quina Mousterian (Couche F), the Néronian I (E), a Post-Neronian I (D), and Post-Neronian II (Cinf, Csup, Binf, Bmed) and the Proto-Aurignacian (Bsup). These phases cover the final Middle Palaeolithic from ~50-55 ka BP until the early Proto-Aurignacian around ~42 ka cal BP. Each archeological unit contains a rich lithic industry alongside many humanly modified faunal remains. Layers B to E have yielded several anthropogenic structures.
Marine sampled material from the Mandrin site with Ségolène Vandevelde who works on the site with Ludovic. The focus will be on burnt flints and sediments for OSL dating. The use of Luminescence is key since the age of the lower sediments approaches and then exceeds the radiocarbon limit (see Higham et al. 2014 Nature).