An international team of researchers has found evidence of a sophisticated bone tool industry at the Neanderthal site of Chez-Pinaud-Jonzac. This finding refutes the long-standing assumption that Neanderthals were incapable of making bone tools and emphasizes their advanced technological abilities. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, provides valuable insights into the material culture and cognitive abilities of our ancient relatives.
Shift in material culture
The appearance of anatomically modern humans in Western Europe about 45,000 years ago led to a significant shift in material culture. These humans brought a wide range of bone artifacts to the region, from hunting tools to decorative jewelry. This led to the view that Neanderthals, who coexisted with modern humans for some time, lacked the knowledge and skills to make bone tools.
However, recent excavations at the Chez-Pinaud-Jonzac site have shattered this assumption. The results of the excavations show that bone tools were as common among Neanderthals as flint tools. These implements were used not only for retouching flint, but also for other purposes – cutting, scraping, chiseling and leveling various materials.
Uncovering the Neanderthal bone industry
The identification of these bone implements was made possible through careful analysis of surface marks and internal structures using X-ray microtomography. Unlike the bone implements of modern humans, which are usually formed by scraping and abrasion, Neanderthal bone implements were made primarily by percussion. This distinction provides valuable insights into the unique technique used by Neanderthals in the tool-making process.
The find at Shez-Pino Zhonsak is consistent with previous evidence from the Chagyrskaya Neanderthal site in the Siberian Altai. These two sites, located on opposite sides of the Neanderthal range, provide further evidence that Neanderthals had the knowledge and skill to create and use bone tools for their daily needs. The existence of a bone industry among Neanderthals opens up new possibilities for studying their technological progress and sheds light on their still mysterious culture.
Renowned archaeologist Dr. Guillaume Guerin, who was part of the research team, emphasizes the significance of this discovery: “The existence of bone industry in Neanderthals challenges our preconceived notions about their cognitive abilities. It shows that they were capable of sophisticated tool-making and had a deep understanding of materials and their properties.”
Dr. Veerle Roths, a specialist in prehistoric technology, adds: “This find highlights the importance of re-evaluating our ideas about Neanderthals. They were not just primitive creatures, but skilled craftsmen who adapted their tools to specific needs.”
Unlocking the secrets of Neanderthal technology
The discovery of bone tools from Neanderthals opens up new insights into their technological abilities. It also raises questions about the extent of tool-making skills and the possible cultural exchange between Neanderthals and modern humans.
By continuing research at sites such as She-Pino Jonzak and Chagyrska, scientists hope to uncover new secrets of Neanderthal technology and gain a deeper understanding of our ancient relatives. These discoveries challenge our preconceptions about Neanderthals and offer a glimpse into the rich and complex world of our shared human history.