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Dr Luc Moreau

Dr Luc Moreau

Marie Curie Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research
University of Cambridge
Downing Street

Cambridge CB2 3ER
Office Phone: +44(0) 1223769323


I studied archaeology at the University in Liège, Belgium, where I received my M.A. in the field of Palaeolithic archaeology. My PhD thesis which I received in 2009 from the University of Tübingen, Germany, reappraises the variability of lithic technological systems in the period between 36,000 and 30,000 years ago, with a particular focus on the record from the Swabian Jura, SW Germany. This period coincides with the socio-economic change from the Aurignacian to Gravettian periods, two major periods of the Early Upper Palaeolithic (EUP). It witnessed a series of important novel features including extremely large and intensively used open-air settlements, in association with the appearance of the first unambiguous Upper Palaeolithic burials in Europe, both attesting for the first time to patterns of increased residential stability.

Upon finishing my PhD I was awarded a six months travel grant by the Römisch-Germanische Kommission (RGK) to broaden my archaeological horizon with various stays in Europe, the Near & Middle East, and the former Soviet Union (Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine). From 2009 to 2011, in the framework of a first post-doctoral appointment at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM), I co-directed new excavations at the major Aurignacian open air site Breitenbach, Germany, to investigate the issue of “cultural modernity” of early anatomically modern humans in terms of intra-site spatial behaviour. From 2012 to 2015, I have been PI on a 3-year project funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG) to explore shifts in mobility strategies in relation with changing raw material economies based on EUP sites from Belgium, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia. Decisions regarding mobility affect many aspects of socio-economic organization, territoriality, demography and enculturation processes in small-scale societies, as suggested by ethnoarchaeological research. The causal factors underlying behavioural shifts in mobility and land use strategies remain however poorly understood in the archaeological and ethnological research, and represent a main desiderata of European Palaeolithic research.

I was part of the International Organizing Committee of the Eleventh Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies (CHAGS 11) held in Vienna in September 2015, and organised a conference session together with Prof. Robert L. Kelly on ‘Detecting shifts in mobility strategies in prehistoric and contemporary forager societies’.

I am currently holding a Marie Curie Fellowship at the University of Cambridge which will contribute to developing an innovative framework to assess the costs and benefits of EUP mobility and technological decision-making under changing environmental constraints, based on key sites from Belgium and Romania.


Research Interests

  • Human Evolution
  • Eurasian Palaeolithic
  • Lithic Technology and Raw Material Use
  • Raw material sourcing
  • Mobility and Land-Use
  • Spatial Analysis and GIS

While the scope of my current research is centred on Central and NW Europe, my acquaintance with Old World Archaeology builds on various study trips in Europe, the Near & Middle East, and the former Soviet Union (Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine). The personal contacts established with different research institutions have led to several EU-wide cooperations and research projects, two of which - the reappraisal of the Slovenian Aurignacian and a pilot study on geochemically sourcing flint artefacts from Belgium and NW Germany - recently resulted in publications in J Human Evolution and Geoarchaeology.

In my present Marie Curie project, I use lithic assemblage variability as a proxy measure of adaptive variability, and apply an evolutionary theoretical approach to interpret those data. Belgium and Romania have been chosen as case study areas. They present rich EUP records of human occupation. Moreover, the loess sequences of Belgium and Romania represent well-understood terrestrial archives of environmental change against which changing subsistence opportunities can be modelled.

The project demonstrates originality and innovation through the integrative use of state-of-the-art stone tool analysis methods in concert with concepts and models from Human Behavioural Ecology (HBE). In addition, the combination of cutting-edge methodologies (non-destructive geochemical sourcing of artefacts and geological samples), and characterisation (through petrographic analysis) of the depositional context of the rocks collected by prehistoric foragers holds strong innovative potential to reconstruct mobility/land-use strategies and has never been attempted before. My main research objectives can be described as follows:

  • Develop a renewed understanding of techno-economic variability in the EUP by taking into account parameters such as raw material provenience, secondary depositional context, and transport costs;
  • Provide a new framework to assess the trade-offs of different EUP technological systems and associated mobility/land-use strategies under variable environments in both case study regions, drawing on currencies derived from HBE;
  • Assess the degree to which the Aurignacian and Gravettian technological systems correspond to different risk-minimising strategies under changing climatic-environmental constraints.


Research Funding

2017: NERC Radiocarbon Facility (Archaeology) award: GBP 3105.- (notional value)

2016: DM McDonald Grants and Awards Fund: GBP 5,000.-

2016-2017: EU H2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship: EUR 183,455.-

2012-2015: German Science Foundation (DFG) post-doc Research Grant: EUR 157,200.-

2009-2010: Wenner-Gren Foundation Post-Ph.D. Research Grant: USD 21,000.-


Prizes and Awards

2017: D M McDonald annual conference competition award: GBP 10,000.-

2008: Travel grant awarded by the German Archaeological Institute (EUR 8,500.-)(äologischen_Instituts)



Part-time lecturer:

2017: University of Cambridge: ARC10-BAN3 module, BA & MA level practical sessions, lectures and supervisions

2017: University of Ljubljana, Slovenia: BA & MA level lectures

2009-2015: University of Mainz, Germany: BA & MA level seminars and practical sessions

2008: Universities of Tübingen, Germany: BA & MA level seminar 


Other Professional Activities


Research expeditions


2013 Slovenia (Pokrajinski Muzej Celje): 1 month, funded by the German Science Foundation
2012 Austria (Natural History Museum Vienna): 3 months, funded by the German Science Foundation
2012 Belgium (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels): 3 months, funded by the German Science Foundation
2009 - 2011 Breitenbach, Germany: excavation and analysis (PIs: O. Jöris & L. Moreau) - Open air site, Aurignacian: several months, funded by RGZM, Wenner-Gren and Leakey Foundations


The following stays were funded by the travel grant of the German Archaeological Institute and comprised between one and three weeks, between November 2008 and May 2009.

2009        Ukraine (Kiev, Institute of Archaeology, Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; Lvov, Institute of Ukrainian Studies)
2009 Russia (Novosibirsk, Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences; Moscow, Institute of Archaeology; Saint Petersburg, Institute of the History of Material Culture, Russian Academy of Sciences)
2009 Kazakhstan (Universities of Almaty, Astana, and Kokshetau)
2009 Uzbekistan (Uzbek Academy of Sciences, Tashkent)
2009 Iran (D.A.I. Teheran & National Museum Teheran)
2009 Syria (D.A.I. Damascus; National Museum Damascus)
2009 Jordan (D.A.I. Amman; National Museum Amman)
2008 Slovakia (Institute of Archaeology Košice; Institute of Archaeology Nitra)
2008 Hungary (Herman Ottó Museum Miskolc; National Museum Budapest)
2008 Romania (House of the Academy, Bucharest; University of Târgovişte)
2008 Bulgaria (National Institute of Archaeology with Museum, Sofia)

Key Publications

Journal articles and book chapters

[1] Moreau, L. & Terberger, Th. (under review). The late Aurignacian of Central Europe. Investigations at the newly discovered open air site Friedrichsdorf-Seulberg (Hesse, Germany), in Palethnologie du Paléolithique supérieur ancien: où en sommes nous?, eds. C. Montoya, L. Mevel, C. Paris, P. Bodu. Paris: Société préhistorique française (Mémoire). 

[2] Moreau, L., Heinz, G., Cramer, A., Brandl, M., Schmitsberger, O., Neugebauer-Maresch, Chr. (2017). Terrain difficulty as a relevant proxy for objectifying mobility patterns and economic behaviour in the Aurignacian of the Middle Danube region: the case of Stratzing-Galgenberg (Austria), in The Exploitation of Raw Materials in Prehistory: Sourcing, Processing and Distribution, eds. T. Pereira, X. Terradas, N. Bicho. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 135-148.

[3] Moreau, L., Brandl, M., Filzmoser, P., Hauzenberger, Chr., Hauzeur, A., Goemaere, E., Jadin, I., Collet, H., Schmitz, R. (2016). Geochemical sourcing of flint artefacts from western Belgium and the German Rhineland: testing hypotheses on Gravettian period mobility and raw material economy. Geoarchaeology (doi 10.1002/gea.21564)

[4] Moreau, L., Brandl, M., Nigst, P.R. (2015). 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 (

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7] Higham, T., Wood, R., Moreau, L., Conard, N.J., Bronk Ramsey, Chr. (2013). Comments on ‘Human-climate interaction during the early Upper Paleolithic: Testing the hypothesis of an adaptive shift between the Proto-Aurignacian and the Early Aurignacian’ by Banks, d’Errico, and Zilhao. Journal of Human Evolution 65: 806-809.

[8] Moreau L. (2012). Breitenbach-Schneidemühle, Germany: A major Aurignacian open air settlement in Central Europe. Eurasian Prehistory 9(1-2): 51-75.

[9] Moreau, L. (2012). Le Gravettien ancien d’Europe centrale revisité: mise au point et perspectives. L’Anthropologie 116: 609-638.

[10] Moreau, L. (2010). Geißenklösterle. The Swabian Gravettian in its European Context. Quartär 57: 79-93 (Open Access:

[11] 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.

[12] 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, Baden-Württemberg). Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt 39(1): 1-20.