June 23, 2023

Ancient Neanderthal Discovery Sparks Excitement

Rock carvings on a cave wall in France’s Loire Valley have been dated back to at least 57 000 years ago, making them the oldest known engravings made by Neanderthals, according to scientists.

Authors of a study published their findings in a reputable academic journal on Wednesday, 21 June, claiming that the carvings “make a new and very important contribution to our knowledge of Neanderthal behaviour” as they were “clearly intentional”.

“The layout of these non-figurative graphic entities is an organised, deliberate composition, and is the result of a thought process giving rise to conscious design and intent,” the study went on to add.

The markings were reportedly found on La Roche-Cotard cave walls in the Centre-Val de Loire region and would have been created before modern humans (Homo Sapiens) arrived in the area some 42 000 years ago.

While it’s unclear what they mean, the carvings are believed to have been made by the Neanderthals sweeping their fingers across the walls of the cave, which are soft and still crumble to the touch today.

“For a long time it was thought that Neanderthals were incapable of thinking other than to ensure their subsistence,” archaeologist and study co-author, Jean-Claude Marquet, told an international publication on Wednesday.

“I think this discovery should lead prehistorians who have doubts about Neanderthal skills to reconsider,” he added.

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