Alsace

Early and Middle Neolithic sequences in the Upper Rhine Valley

Rosheim burials (photo courtesy of Anthony Denaire)

Rosheim burials (photo courtesy of Anthony Denaire)

The central European Neolithic is often characterised as the successive replacement of one culture by another, each defined — geographically and chronologically — by its ceramic styles. In the south of the Upper Rhine Valley, the early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik (LBK) or Rubané culture is replaced by a series of Middle Neolithic cultures: the Hinkelstein, Grossgartach, Rössen, Bischheim and then the epi-Rössen groups of Bruebach-Oberbergen and Bischheim Occidental du Rhin Supérieur (BORS). This sequence is thought to start roughly in the second half of the sixth millennium cal BC and last throughout the fifth millennium cal BC, ending as the Michelsberg (Late Neolithic) culture develops to the north and west, before the turn of the fourth millennium cal BC. Over almost a millennium and a half, continuity and innovation are found in architectural styles, burial rites, subsistence practices and settlement density.

Rosheim burial T055 (photo courtesy of Anthony Denaire)

Rosheim burial T055 (photo courtesy of Anthony Denaire)

Two ceramic seriations, both based on the frequency of pot decorative styles, have provided a good relative chronology for these archaeological cultures (Lefranc 2007; Denaire 2009). However, the timings and tempo of cultural change over this period are difficult to assess from a relative chronology and, while current radiocarbon dating provides a broad framework for the cultural sequence, it lacks precision. Bayesian modelling of radiocarbon dates on short-life material, in combination with the ceramic seriation, will help to refine our understanding of the early and middle Neolithic cultural chronology and in turn contribute to broader questions about population continuity and the speed of cultural change.


Lefranc, P. 2007. La céramique du Rubané en Alsace. Strasbourg: Université Marc-Bloch.
Denaire, A. 2009. Le Néolithique moyen du sud de la plaine du Rhin supérieur et du nord de la Franche-Comté: les cultures de Hinkelstein, Grossgartach et Rössen au travers de leur production céramique. Strasbourg: Université Marc-Bloch

Local Partners: Anthony Denaire (ANTEA), Philippe Lefranc (INRAP) and Christian Jeunesse (UMR 7044)
UK Team: Penny Bickle, Alex Bayliss, and Alasdair Whittle
Alsace_Logo_sm Alsace_logoUMR2_sm Alsace_INRAP_sm