Grotte du Lazaret

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Habitation site
43.69, 7.29

The Grotte du Lazaret is a Middle Paleolithic prehistoric site located at the foot of Mont Boron, in the southeastern part of the city of Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes.

It was classified as a historical monument by decree of 21 March 1963.

The excavations of the cave were carried out by the Institute of Human Paleontology, Albert I Prince of Monaco Foundation.

The stratigraphic sequence (existing stratifications in the rock), more than 8 m powerful, includes a set of levels attributed to the Late Middle Pleistocene. The main prehistoric occupations have been dated by uranium/thorium and electron paramagnetic resonance to 130 to 170,000 years ago (SIO 6).

The first dating carried out in 1962 gave 130,000 years to the first human traces (of hunters) in the cave, but would then have been quickly plugged.

The lithic industries unearthed had initially been reported to the Upper Acheulean because of the presence of some bifaces. However, production is largely oriented towards obtaining chips intended to be retouched in scrapers, denticulates, notches or points. The methods used are Levallois cutting and discoid cutting. The industry therefore evokes rather an early Middle Paleolithic than a true Acheulean. The materials used are of close origin (marl or silicified limestone pebbles) or more distant (flint, jasper, fine quartzite, rhyolite).

The faunal remains discovered are dominated by deer and ibex, which are associated with horse, auroch, woolly rhinoceros and elephant. Some remains of carnivores are also present: wolf, fox, lynx, panther, bear. Remains of birds (pyrrhocorax, pigeons, magpie, blackbird), rodents (rabbit, field mice) and marine and terrestrial shells were also collected.

The cave has also yielded various human remains including some teeth and a child's right parietal. The latter was unearthed in a level dated to about 170,000 years ago.