In a major archaeological discovery, researchers have uncovered the oldest known Neanderthal engravings in France. The markings, made on the wall of La Roche-Cotard Cave in Centre-Val de Loire, are believed to date back 57,000 years and provide an insight into the symbolic and artistic expression of early humans.
The markings were identified by Dr. Jean-Claude Marquet and colleagues from the University of Tours in France who used photogrammetry to create 3D models of them. They then compared these with known and experimental human markings to conclude that they were “deliberate, organized, and intentional” shapes created by Neanderthals.
The team also dated sediments using state-of-the-art optically stimulated luminescence techniques which revealed that the cave became closed off by infilling sediment around 57,000 years ago – well before Homo sapiens established themselves in the region. This combined with evidence that stone tools within the cave are only Mousterian (a technology associated with Neanderthals) strongly suggests that these engravings are indeed their work.
Symbolic productions attributed to Neanderthals are few and often subject to debate but this discovery provides further evidence that they had a much more complex culture than previously thought capable of expressing itself artistically. Unfortunately though what intent lies behind these engravings is yet unknown as they are nonfigurative symbols.
Sources: Good News Network