An important archaeological discovery has been made in France, where researchers have found the oldest known Neanderthal engravings. Located in the La Roche-Cotard Cave in Centre-Val de Loire, these markings are estimated to be 57,000 years old. They offer a glimpse into the symbolic and artistic capabilities of early humans.

Dr. Jean-Claude Marquet and his team from the University of Tours in France identified these markings. They used photogrammetry to create 3D models and compared them with known and experimental human markings. The conclusion was that these were “deliberate, organized, and intentional” shapes made by Neanderthals.

The researchers also dated the sediments using cutting-edge optically stimulated luminescence techniques. The results showed that the cave was sealed off by infilling sediment around 57,000 years ago – long before Homo sapiens settled in the area.

Further supporting evidence came from the stone tools found in the cave, which are exclusively Mousterian – a technology linked with Neanderthals. This strongly indicates that the engravings were their handiwork.

Symbolic creations attributed to Neanderthals are rare and often disputed. However, this discovery adds more weight to the theory that they had a complex culture capable of artistic expression. The purpose behind these nonfigurative symbols remains unknown.