Works of art found in Neanderthals

Works of art found in Neanderthals
Works of art found in Neanderthals
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Scientists have discovered a deer bone fragment in a Neanderthal cave. The find is more than 50 thousand years old, and it turned out to be covered with carvings, which have no practical application. According to the study authors, this proves that Neanderthals had artistic values ​​long before they met Homo sapiens.

Dirk Leder et al. / Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2021

Most of the Stone Age art found in Europe is attributed to Homo sapiens. Experts have long assumed that the Neanderthals began to create art objects only after getting to know them. Now a team of German archaeologists have been able to uncover evidence that Neanderthals created artistic treasures much earlier. Details of the work were published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Scientists have found a bone fragment in the Unicorn Cave in the Harz mountains in northern Germany. It is a phalanx of a giant deer about five and a half centimeters long, four centimeters wide and three centimeters thick. The weight of the find is less than 40 grams. A simple pattern is carved on its surface: six intersecting lines and several short strokes. The drawing has no practical use, and it appears to have been of value to the Neanderthals itself.

Dirk Leder et al. / Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2021

Radiocarbon analysis showed the age of the bone - 51 thousand years. That is, it was decorated ten thousand years before the arrival of Homo sapiens.

Researchers conducted several experiments to create a similar object from a cow's bone. The work showed that the Neanderthals most likely boiled the bone before applying the pattern. According to archaeologists, the complex production process and material rare for the area (giant deer were rare near this cave) support the theory that such figurines were made on purpose and had a symbolic meaning.

Dirk Leder et al. / Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2021

The group's finds also include flint fragments, bedrocks and teeth covered with hatching or zigzagging. However, deer bone is "one of the most complex cultural expressions of the Neanderthals known to this day," the scientists noted.

According to the authors, the discovery shows that the ability to create art and express themselves appeared in Neanderthals long before the arrival of man. But such objects are extremely rare, so it is still difficult to compare them.

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