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Rhone Valley Archaeological Field School

  • Details and Cost

    About the Program

    The Rhone Valley program is suspended for the Sumer 2023 term

    The Rhone Valley Archaeological Field School takes place at Grotte Mandrin, located near the town of Malataverne, overlooking the eastern bank of the middle Rhône River Valley in southern France. Students participate in exploratory and excavation activities related to the ongoing research on this site as it relates to Neanderthal and Modern Human lithic and fossil discoveries from the last 3+ decades.

    During this 4-week summer program, students learn basic through advanced archaeological field methods. Through this course, students are trained in surveying, excavation, recording, artifact retrieval, field sorting techniques, and interpretation while on an active site.

    About the Mandrin site:

    Since 1990, excavations led by Dr. Ludovic Slimak and his team have revealed a 3 m deep stratigraphic sequence containing 12 archaeological layers (Layers J to B1) ranging from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 5 at 120,000 years ago (ka) to the very end of the Middle Paleolithic and the emergence of the Upper Paleolithic ~42 ka. The site has yielded a rich and well-preserved archaeological collection, including nearly 60,000 lithic elements and over 70,000 faunal remains dominated by horse, bison and deer. In particular, Layer E of the site records the earliest evidence for anatomically and behaviorally modern Homo sapiens (ABMH) in all of continental Europe.

    This incursion shows that the first ABMH settled for a time in Neanderthal territory, before these populations left and Neandertals reoccupied it. As all the layers of Grotte Mandrin provided diagnostic hominin remains, we can show that this incursion of ABMH is in the middle of an exclusively Neanderthal sequence. We also show the remarkable technological divergence existing between the Mandrin ABMH and the proceeding and succeeding Neanderthals there, the former having had mastered archery. This archery is by far the oldest evidence of these technologies across Eurasia, at least 15 millennia before otherwise known on this vast continent, at a time when Neanderthal populations were using only short-range weapons- spears thrusted or thrown by hand. Layer E shows the spatio-social organization of these first ABMH colonists, who built in the cavity to organize their daily space the oldest domestic structured architecture known today in the world, thanks to the arrangement of ~ 3 tons of stone blocks imported from outside the site.

    Students will work closely with Dr. Jason Lewis from Stony Brook University and Dr. Ludovic Slimak and Dr. Laure Metz from the French National Center for Scientific Research. 

    Location Malataverne, France
    Program Type Faculty-Led Program
    Program Term Summer
    Program Dates The Rhone Valley program is suspended for the Sumer 2023 term
    Language of Instruction English
    Budget View Budget
    Living Arrangements Program leaders and participants will lodge at

    Breakfast will at the residential site and then all will travel ~15 minutes to the site. Lunch and dinner will be arranged with local restaurants.
    Additional Information Faculty-Led study abroad programs may require group travel. Please reach out to your IAP Coordinator prior to making any travel arrangements.
    Program Housing Statement: Stony Brook University is required to comply with the housing policies of the host country, partner institution and/or hotel/hostel. These policies may include requirements such as sex-based housing placement.


    GPA 2.0
    Other Requirements N/A
    Application Deadline

    Not accepting applications for the Summer 2023 term 


    Applicants are accepted on a rolling basis, and are encouraged to apply as early as possible.
    Candidates may be interviewed to determine their qualifications for participating and representing Stony Brook University abroad.

    Discoveries on this Research Site

    The Grotte Mandrin, one of the sites where this program takes place, has recently announced a huge discovery. Read more!

  • Academic Information

    Course Information

    Students will earn 6 credits by taking ANT 321 Archaeological Field Methods (SBS+)

    This course is an opportunity to participate in all aspects of an archaeological research project. Students are trained in excavation, recording, artifact retrieval, surveying, field sorting techniques, and interpretation. This course is usually held in the summer and involves excavation of a prehistoric or early historic site.

    Additional Information: This course focuses on archaeological survey, excavation, artifact and fossil recovery, and analysis. Hands-on examination of prehistoric artifacts from Pleistocene sites in southern France will teach students how human ancestors adapted culturally and technologically to the environments around them. Experts from Stony Brook, the Univ. of Connecticut, the French National Center of Scientific Research, and other institutions provide instruction in lectures, labs, and within the context of on-going field projects.

    This field course is part of the Rhone Valley Archaeology Summer Field School, which is dedicated to hands-on introductory training in all the major disciplines within human evolutionary studies. This program is a unique opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to learn the basic principles of archaeology “hands on” in a region with one of the world’s most productive and spectacular records of early hominin evolution - the Mediterranean Basin. Field school students participate in ongoing archaeological research focusing on the last 500,000 years.

    Academic Policies

    • Credits earned on this program will calculate toward a student's GPA at Stony Brook University. Non-SBU students are advised to check their home university policy on grade and credit transfer.
    • Students following the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) may request for GLO and EXP+ in addition to requirements fulfilled by their coursework.

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