Magdalenian burials are rare. The majority of human remains attributed to the Magdalenian are fragmentary and were not discovered in situ. Currently, five primary burials have been described: Cap Blanc, Laugerie-Basse, Chancelade in Dordogne, Lafaye in Tarn et Garonne, and Saint-Germain-la-Rivière in Gironde. They belong to the Middle Magdalenian, i.e. some 18–19,000 years BP).
Of these five graves, four correspond to women, while that at Laugerie-Basse contained the remains of a man. In the Lafaye Shelter, the adult female was accompanied by a child about three years old.
At Lafaye, the original position of the body is unknown. In other cases, the deceased were buried curled up, lying on their left side. At Laugerie-Basse, the man was adorned with perforated shells. At Saint-Germain-la-Rivière, the clothing of the woman was adorned with various shells and engraved deer teeth. The two bodies had been abundantly painted with ochre. The other individuals were neither dressed nor painted with ochre, and the excavation methods employed cast serious doubts on the existence of funerary objects, including at Saint-Germain-la-Rivière.
At Sordes, the 1874 excavations by Louis Lartet and Gatien Chaplain-Duparc yielded human remains, suggesting the presence of two heavily reworked graves of adults belonging to a recent phase of the Magdalenian.
Direct radiocarbon dating of the child skeleton at La Madeleine in Dordogne and those of the adults at Obercassel in Germany indicate that these graves, originally dated to the Middle Magdalenian, actually belong to the Azilian or Laborian (La Madeleine) and to the very late Magdalenian (Obercassel). It should also be noted that the three individuals were lying on their backs. The child was adorned with hundreds of teeth, and ochre was added.
The limited number of Magdalenian burials found to date suggests that burial was not a common funerary practice in this culture; others practices – less conducive to preservation – must have been used. Nevertheless, it is impossible to determine why only some individuals were buried.