|Geographical range||Africa and Eurasia|
|Dates||160,000 - 40,000 BP|
|Type site||Le Moustier|
|Major sites||Creswell Crags, Lynford Quarry, Arcy-sur-Cure, Vindija Cave, Atapuerca Mountains, Zafarraya, Gorham's Cave, Devil's Tower, Haua Fteah|
|Preceded by||Micoquien, Clactonian|
|Followed by||Châtelperronian, Emireh culture, Aterian|
(c. 3.3 Ma - 300 ka)
(300-45 ka) Upper Paleolithic
? Stone Age
The Mousterian (or Mode III) is a techno-complex (archaeological industry) of flint tools associated primarily with Neanderthals, as well as with the earliest anatomically modern humans in Eurasia. The Mousterian largely defines the latter part of the Middle Paleolithic, the middle of the West Eurasian Old Stone Age. It lasted roughly from 160,000 BP to 40,000 BP.
The culture was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France. Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe and also the Near East and North Africa. Handaxes, racloirs and points constitute the industry; sometimes a Levallois technique or another prepared-core technique was employed in making the flint flakes.
The European Mousterian is the product of Neanderthals. It existed roughly from 160,000 BP to 40,000 BP. Some assemblages, namely those from Pech de l'Aze, include exceptionally small points prepared using the Levallois technique among other prepared core types, causing some researchers to suggest that these flakes take advantage of greater grip strength possessed by Neanderthals. In North Africa and the Near East, Mousterian tools were also produced by anatomically modern humans. In the Levant, for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those made by Qafzeh type modern humans. It may be an example of acculturation of modern humans by Neanderthals because the culture after 130,000 years reached the Levant from Europe (the first Mousterian industry appears there 200,000 BP) and the modern Qafzeh type humans appear in the Levant another 100,000 years later.
Possible variants are Denticulate, Charentian (Ferrassie & Quina) named after the Charente region, Typical and the Acheulean Tradition (MTA) - Type-A and Type-B. The industry continued alongside the new Châtelperronian industry during the 45,000-40,000 BP period.
Range of Homo neanderthalensis. Mousterian industries have been found outside this range (e.g., Jordan, Saudi Arabia).
600,000 years before present -- 40,000 years before present