Symbolic Neamderthal artifacts?


November 25, 2018

Cueva de los Aviones is a cave system in  Spain in which have been found  decorated sea shells. These have been dated to 115,000 years ago and are attributed to he Neanderthal occupiers of the site, it was announced in the journal Science Advances of 22 February 2018.

Dating was  accomplished by Uranium series technology.

Until now, the absence of evidence of symbolic artifacts, such as   decorated rocks or sheels, from Neanderthal sites has bolstered the claim members pf the species H. neanderthalensis were incapable of symbolic representation.

Here is the Abstract of the published article:”Cueva de los Aviones (southeast Spain) is a site of the Neandertal [sic] -associated Middle Paleolithic of Europe. It has yielded ochred and perforated marine shells, red and yellow colorants, and shell containers that feature residues of complex pigmentatious mixtures. Similar finds from the Middle Stone Age of South Africa have been widely accepted as archaeological proxies for symbolic behavior. U-series dating of the flowstone capping the Cueva de los Aviones deposit shows that the symbolic finds made therein are 115,000 to 120,000 years old and predate the earliest known comparable evidence associated with modern humans by 20,000 to 40,000 years. Given our findings, it is possible that the roots of symbolic material culture may be found among the common ancestor of Neandertals and modern humans, more than half-a-million years ago.”

Read the paper, by Hoffmann et al. here.