Dr. Luc Moreau

Current position: Research associate

MONREPOS Archaeological Research Centre and Museum for Human Behavioural Evolution

Research Fields

  • European Palaeolithic
  • Human behaviour and evolution
  • Aurignacian, Gravettian
  • Cultural change
  • Lithic technology
  • Raw material management
  • Human mobility
  • Map of Europe showing the location of Aurignacian and Gravettian sites (dots) previously investigated by Dr Luc Moreau

    1. Geißenklösterle - AH I (D); 2. Brillenhöhle - AH VII, VI, Vu (D); 3. Weinberghöhlen (D); 4. Willendorf II (A); 5. Breitenbach-Schneidemühle (D); 6. Potočka zijalka (SLO); 7. Stratzing-Galgenberg (A); 8. Friedrichsdorf-Seulberg (D); 9. Maisières-Canal “Champ de Fouilles”.
    1-4: project A (Ph.D. thesis); 5: project B (1st post-doc); 4, 6-9: project C (2nd post-doc).

    Click on the map to enlarge it.

    • Luc Moreau and Aleksander Horvat determining lithic raw materials in the Aurignacian collection of Potocka zijalka, curated at Pokrajinski muzej Celje, Slovania.
    • Location of Potocka zijalka in the Karavanke mountain range, Slovenia. The arrow shows site location at 1630 m.a.s.l. The Slovenian sites of Potočka zijalka and Mokriška jama represent the only Aurignacian sites in Europe located in a high-altitude mountainous landscape (i.e., greater than or equal to 1500 m.a.s.l.).
    • Luc Moreau analysing the Aurignacian lithic assemblage of Potočka zijalka, curated at Pokrajinski Museum Celje, Slovenia.
    • Willendorf II on the western bank of the Danube in Lower Austria. The arrow indicates the location of the site.
    • Maisières-Canal “Champ de Fouilles” (Mons basin, Western Belgium). Gravettian blades macroscopically determined as Campanian “black flint” of Obourg type (Fotos and illustration: L. Moreau).
    • Geological samples of Nouvelles flint showing the macroscopic variability of Campanian "black flint" from the Mons basin (Western Belgium)

    The cultural change from the Aurignacian to the Gravettian in the light of variable strategies of residential mobility. Comparative techno-economic analyses of lithic assemblages.

    Project C (2nd post-doc)

    Project duration

    01/2012 – 10/2014 


    German Science Foundation (DFG)

    Analysed assemblages

    • Willendorf II – AH 4 (Austria), Aurignacian, open air
    • Willendorf II – AH 5 (Austria), Gravettian, open air
    • Stratzing/Krems-Rehberg (Austria), Aurignacian, open air
    • Potočka zijalka (Slovenia), Aurignacian, cave site
    • Maisières-Canal “Champ de Fouilles” (Belgium), Gravettian, open air
    • Friedrichsdorf-Seulberg (Germany), Aurignacian, open air

    Research description

    My current research project aims to present the first systematic comparison of the late Aurignacian and early Gravettian by means of techno-economic analyses of selected lithic assemblages from Germany, Belgium, Austria and Slovenia. This research is based on the hypothesis that an important key to explain the variability in Aurignacian and Gravettian lithic assemblages between 32 and 27 ka BP is to be found in changing patterns of residential mobility and intensity of site occupation in relation to strategies of raw material provisioning and use. In order to verify this hypothesis, my analyses aim to systematically reconstruct and compare the technological organization and raw material economy during the late Aurignacian and the early Gravettian.

    My investigations show that decreased residential mobility and increased raw material selectivity already come to the fore in the late Aurignacian. This is at least apparent in the increased amount of high quality lithic raw materials transported over long distances. Ongoing analyses concern the late Aurignacian assemblages of Stratzing/Krems-Rehberg, Austria (campaign 1988-1991) and Friedrichsdorf-Seulberg, Germany (excavations 2010-2011). The research objective is to scrutinize the validity of the current cultural-historical models with regard to the cultural change from the Aurignacian to the Gravettian and, ultimately, to shed new light on the interpretation of Upper Palaeolithic lithic assemblage variability.

    Project Publications

    • Moreau, L., Brandl, M., Nigst, P.R. (accepted). Did prehistoric foragers behave in an economically irrational manner? Raw material availability and technological organisation at the early Gravettian site of Willendorf II (Austria). Quaternary International.
    • Moreau L., Brandl, M., Filzmoser, P., Hauzenberger, Chr., Goemaere, E., Jadin, I., Collet, H., Hauzeur, A., Schmitz, R. (2015, in press). Geochemical sourcing of flint artefacts from western Belgium and the German Rhineland: testing hypotheses on Gravettian period mobility and raw material economy. Geoarchaeology.
    • Moreau L., Odar B., Horvat A., Higham T., Turk P., Pirkmaier D. (2015). Reassessing the Aurignacian of Slovenia: lithic techno-economic behaviour and direct dating of osseous projectile points. Journal of Human Evolution 78: 158-180.
    • Brandl M., Moreau L., Schmitsberger O., Neugebauer-Maresch Chr. (2015). The Southern Moravian Cherts at the Aurignacian site of Stratzing-Galgenberg, Austria. Anthropologie LIII/1-2: 181-202.
    • Moreau L., Hauzeur A., Jadin I. (2013). La gestion des resources lithiques dans l´ensemble gravettien de Maisières-Canal (Bassin de Mons, Hainaut, B): Nouvelles perspectives. Notae Praehistoricae 33: 105-126.

    Conference Presentations (selection)

    • Moreau L., Brandl, M., Schmitsberger O., Neugebauer-Maresch, Chr. (2013). Stratzing/Krems Rehberg in its lithic landscape: Economic behaviour in the late Aurignacian of the Middle Danube region. Abstracts of the 3rd Annual Meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution, Sept. 2013, Vienna, p. 155.
    • Moreau L., Brandl M., Trnka G., Nigst P.R. (2013). Raw material use and group mobility at Willendorf II (Lower Austria): comparative analysis of the Aurignacian and Gravettian lithic assemblages. In: P. Wojtal (Ed.) World of Gravettian Hunters. International Conference Krakow, 25th – 28th June 2013, Polish Academy of Sciences, p. 64-65.
    • Moreau L. (2012). Late Aurignacian and early Gravettian technological strategies: Intensity of raw material use as an indication of mobility in stone artifact assemblages from Breitenbach, Germany, and Maisières-Canal, Belgium. Abstracts of the 2nd Annual Meeting of the European Society for the Study of Human Evolution, Sept. 2012, Bordeaux, p. 107.

    Major collaborations

    • Dr. Philip R. Nigst, Archaeology of Willendorf II (Austria), Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
    • Dr. Ivan Jadin, Archaeology of Maisières-Canal (Belgium), Palaeontology, Anthropology and Prehistory, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
    • Dr. Anne Hauzeur, Raw material survey Belgium, Palaeontology, Anthropology and Prehistory, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
    • Dr. Eric Goemaere, Geology of Belgium, Geological survey of Belgium, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium
    • Prof. Dr. Christine Neugebauer-Maresch, Archaeology of Stratzing-Galgenberg (Austria), Institute for Oriental und European Archaeology, Working Group Quaternary Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
    • Dr. Michael Brandl, Lithic raw material at Stratzing-Galgenberg (Austria), Institute for Oriental und European Archaeology, Working Group Quaternary Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
    • Dr. Oliver Schmitsberger, Lithic raw material at Stratzing-Galgenberg (Austria), Institute for Oriental und European Archaeology, Working Group Quaternary Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
    • Dr. Walpurga Antl-Weiser, Archaeology of Willendorf II (Austria), Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria
    • Prof. Dr. Gerhard Trnka, Lithic raw materials in Austria, Institute for Pre- and Protohistory, University of Vienna, Austria
    • Dr. Stane Rozman, Archaeology of Potočka zijalka (Slovenia), Pokrajinski Muzej in Celje, Slovenia
    • Darja Pirkmaier, M.A., Archaeology of Potočka zijalka (Slovenia), Pokrajinski Muzej in Celje, Slovenia
    • Dr. Peter Turk, Archaeology of Mokriška jama (Slovenia), Slovenian National Museum in Ljubljana, Slovenia
    • Dr. Aleksander Horvat, Lithic raw materials in Slovenia, Research Centre Ivan Rakovec Institute of Palaeontology, Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
    • Dr. Guido Heinz, GIS modelling, Institut für Raumbezogene Informations- und Messtechnik (i3mainz), University of Applied Sciences in Mainz, Germany
    • Prof. Dr. Thomas Terberger, Archaeology of Friedrichsdorf-Seulberg (Germany), Cultural Heritage and Historic Monuments of Lower-Saxony, Hannover, Germany
    • Breitenbach, 2009 field season. Luc Moreau (left) discussing the excavation technique in regard to the general morphology of the archaeological horizon with a prehistorian from Slovenia, Boštjan Odar. Breitenbach, Eastern Germany.
    • Germany, showing the location of Breitenbach.
    • Breitenbach (excavation 1927). Find density map of the complete lithic assemblage (N=10198). Scaling of X and Y axis is expressed in meters.
    • Breitenbach (excavation 1927). Mapping of refitting-lines between lithic artefacts from distinct excavation units. The sample chosen for systematic refits comprised 3461 artefacts from a demarcated area of 180 m². The background corresponds to a Kernel density map based on the complete lithic assemblage. Scaling of X and Y axis is expressed in meters.
    • Breitenbach (excavation 1927). 1-6, 11, 13: Bladelets with unilateral marginal retouch; 12: Dufour bladelets; 7-8, 10, 14-15: Backed bladelets; 17-19, 21: Carinated endscrapers; 20: Splintered piece; 9 and 16: Perforated fox canines (drawings J. Hahn, G. Rutkowski).
    • Breitenbach (excavation 1927). 22: Prismatic bladelet core (drawings J. Hahn, G. Rutkowski).

    Breitenbach-Schneidemühle (Burgenlandkreis, Sachsen-Anhalt): lithic technology, raw material management and spatial organization

    Project B (1st post-doc)

    Project duration

    06/2008 – 12/2011



    • Post-doctoral fellowship of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie
    • Post-Ph.D. Research Grant of the Wenner-Gren Foundation to aid new fieldwork at Breitenbach in summer 2009 (Link: http://www.wennergren.org/grantees/moreau-luc-georges)

    Analysed assemblage

    • Breitenbach-Schneidemühle (Germany), Aurignacian, open air

    Research description

    Despite its significance for understanding the Aurignacian in terms of behavioural variability and adaptive strategies in northern latitudes (above 50° N), the archaeological material of Breitenbach has never been published comprehensively for almost a century since its discovery in 1924. Moreover, despite the fact that the excavation extends over ca. 400 m², making it one of the largest Aurignacian site currently known, no spatial analysis has ever been attempted. This research provides a description of the main features of the complete lithic assemblage from the early excavations regarding lithic technology and raw material economy. Moreover, this research provides, for the first time, a spatial analysis of the lithic assemblage, backed up by refits.

    Results indicate that post-depositional processes lead to displacement and relocation of at least part of the archaeological material and must be accounted for when undertaking a reconstruction of intra-site activity patterns. Nevertheless, according to Kuhn´s (1992) conceptual framework of technological provisioning developed to evaluate the way mobile hunter-gatherers keep themselves supplied with raw material, the specific approach to make and maintain lithic tools implemented at Breitenbach obviously corresponds to a planned strategy for “provisioning places”. The latter represents a form of anticipatory organization resulting from an increased residential stability that makes loci of activities, and thus raw material procurement, more predictable. It is proposed that Breitenbach corresponds to a site of residential character, probably resulting from an accumulation of repeated seasonal occupation events over a longer time-span.

    New fieldwork

    In 2009, the PIs Dr Olaf Jöris and Dr Luc Moreau started a new field project “Spatial Behavior in the Aurignacian: New Excavations at Breitenbach, Germany” with the objective to understanding the spatial behaviour of past hominins. The 2009 field season at Breitenbach aimed at surveying this large site over its entire extent in order to gain a better understanding of the stratigraphic situation as well as of site formation processes; to investigate the existence of spatial patterns and features, and, finally, to establish a fine chronology for the site by applying combined AMS-14C-, TL- and OSL-dating of freshly obtained samples along with geomagnetic and micromorphological analyses.

    The 2009 field season was funded by the Leakey and Wenner-Gren Foundations, and by the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum.

    Project Publications

    • Moreau L. & Jöris O. (2013). La fin de l´Aurignacien. Au sujet de la position chronologique de la station de plein air de Breitenbach dans le contexte du paléolithique supérieur ancien en Europe centrale. In : P. Bodu, Chehmana L., Klaric L., Mevel L., Soriano S., Teyssandier N. (eds.): Le Paléolithique supérieur ancien de l'Europe du Nord-ouest. Actes de la table-ronde de Sens (avril 2009), Mémoire de la SPF, p. 395-414.
    • Moreau L. (2012). Breitenbach-Schneidemühle, Germany: A major Aurignacian open air settlement in Central Europe. Eurasian Prehistory 9(1-2): 51-75.
    • Moreau L. (2012). Le Gravettien ancien d’Europe centrale revisité: mise au point et perspectives. L’Anthropologie 116: 609-638.
    • Moreau L. (2012). Status of flake production The Aurignacian of Breitenbach (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany): Status of Flake Production. In : A. Pastoors, M. Peresani (Eds.), Flakes not Blades: The Role of Flake Production at the Onset of the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe. Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal Museums 5, Mettmann, p. 181-197.
    • Moreau L. (2011). La fin de l´Aurignacien et le début du Gravettien en Europe centrale : continuité ou rupture ? Étude comparative des ensembles lithiques de Breitenbach (Sachsen-Anhalt, D) et Geißenklösterle (AH I) (Bade-Wurtemberg, D). Notae Praehistoricae 31: 21-29.
    • Jöris O. & Moreau L. (2010). Vom Ende des Aurignacien. Zur chronologischen Stellung des Freilandfundplatzes Breitenbach (Burgenlandkreis) im Kontext des frühen und mittleren Jungpaläolithikums in Mitteleuropa. Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 40(1): 1-20.
    • Geißenklösterle (Blaubeuren, Alb-Donau-Kreis, Baden-Württemberg, Swabian Jura, Germany). The cave site is located in a limestone massif ca. 60 above the Ach valley floor. Geißenklösterle is a key site for the chronostratigraphy and cultural history of the Early Upper Palaeolithic in Central Europe.
    • Geißenklösterle. Catchement area for the procurement of lithic raw materials in the early Gravettian (Illustration: L. Moreau).
    • Geißenklösterle, early Gravettian: 1-2: fléchettes; 3-7: microgravette points; 8-9: laterally retouched bladelets; 10-11: backed bladelets (Drawings: L. Moreau).
    • Geißenklösterle, early Gravettian: 12-14: volumetric blade-bladelet cores (Drawings: L. Moreau).
    • Geißenklösterle. Microgravette points (Foto: L. Moreau).
    • Geographical distribution of sites attributed to the early Gravettian and chronostratigraphically dated between 30 and 27 ka BP. The black rectangle marks the geographic area investigated in detail in the framework of my Ph.D. thesis, including the Upper Danube region (Swabian Jura, Bavaria) and the Middle Danube region (Lower Austria, Moravia) (Illustration: L. Moreau).
    • Geißenklösterle. Das Schwäbische Gravettien im europäischen Kontext (http://kernsverlag.com).

    Geißenklösterle. The Swabian Gravettian in its European Context

    Project A (Ph.D. thesis)


    Project duration

    03/2003 – 02/2008



    Ph.D. scholarship “UNESCO Welterbe –Höhlen der Schwäbischen Alb” (Alb-Donau-Kreis, University of Tübingen)

    Analysed assemblages

    • Geißenklösterle, AH I (Germany), Gravettian, cave site
    • Brillenhöhle, AH VII, VI, Vu (Germany), Gravettian, cave site
    • Weinberghöhlen (Germany), Gravettian, cave site
    • Willendorf II – AH 5 (Austria), Gravettian, cave site

    Research decription

    Focusing on Central Europe, this research appraised the unity of early Gravettian lithic technical systems in southern Germany and Lower Austria, generally treated as distinct cultural entities. Until recently, our knowledge of the Swabian Gravettian was known only through partial studies. Furthermore, according to the 14C dates available until the mid-1990´s, the Swabian Gravettian tended to be attributed to a recent phase of this techno-complex, in contrast to the first manifestations of the Gravettian in the Middle Danube region. In the light of the new 14C dates, it appears today that the Swabian Gravettian doubtlessly belongs to the early stage of this techno-complex (i.e. 29-27 ka BP).

    In order to contextualise the Swabian Gravettian in the broader framework of the European early Gravettian, over 12,000 lithic artefacts from four key Central European sites, including Geißenklösterle, Brillenhöhle, Weinberghöhlen, Willendorf II-5, have been investigated by means of a qualitative “chaîne opératoire” approach in conjunction with quantitative attribute analyses. Results indicate the strong cultural affinities shared between the assemblages of the Upper and Middle Danube regions.


    • Moreau, L. (2009). Geißenklösterle. Das Schwäbische Gravettien im europäischen Kontext. Tübinger Monographien zur Urgeschichte. Kerns Verlag, Tübingen, 367p.

    Project Publications (selection)

    • Moreau, L. (2010). Geißenklösterle. The Swabian Gravettian in its European Context. Quartär 57: 79-93.
    • Moreau, L. (2009). The Settlement System of the Ach Valley during the Early Gravettian – Contribution of a New Lithic Refit between Brillenhöhle and Geißenklösterle (Swabian Jura, Alb-Donau District, Bade-Wurttemberg). Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 39(1): 1-20.