51,000-Year-Old Bone Carving Suggests Neanderthals Were True Artists

The Neanderthal bone carving. Image by V. Minkus/NLDFurther evidence of the ability to symbolically think is provided by patterns deliberately etched on a bone that belonged to a giant deer.AdvertisementNeanderthals were skilled at creating jewelry, drawing cave paintings and decorating themselves with feathers. This bone carving from 55,000 years ago, which was described in Nature Ecology and Evolution, further demonstrates the sophisticated behavior of Neanderthals.Evidence of artistic decorations suggests that objects were produced or modified for symbolic purposes beyond their functional purpose. This would add a new dimension in the complex cognitive ability of Neanderthals. Silvia Bello, an archaeologist at London's Natural History Museum, explained this in a New & Views article.It was discovered at the Einhornhle archaeological site in northern Germany's Harz Mountains. The carving features a line pattern that consists of six etchings that create five stacked chevrons. According to Dirk Leder, an archaeologist from the State Service for Cultural Heritage Lower Saxony, Germany, the dimensions of the parallel and regular-spaced engravings are very similar and suggest that they were created in a uniform manner, which would indicate that it was intentional.Greyscale images were created from micro-CT scans. There were 10 etchings on the bone. Six of these (shown in red), were used to create the chevron design. Image by NLDG/O Media could be eligible for a World of Warcraft 60 Day Time Card at Eneba. Use the promo code: 20210704Radiocarbon dating dates the 2.2-inch long toe bone to the Middle Paleolithic. This is shortly before the arrival Homo sapiens in the region. According to research, microscopic analysis of this fossil shows that it was heated before being etched. This was probably done to soften bone before carving. According to the study, the markings don't resemble those associated with butchering and the ornament is not of practical use. Given the rarity and importance of giant deer north-of the alps at this time, the carving may have had significant symbolic significance. It is not known what the exact meaning of these patterns are.It is unlikely that the Neanderthals created bone carving. The arrival of anatomically modern humans in central Europe around 45,000 years ago was supported by genetic evidence. This postdates the carving by approximately 6,000 years. Although this apparent temporal gap suggests that the artifact is Neanderthal-related, it's not impossible to assume that Homo sapiens created or influenced the creation of the artwork.AdvertisementBello, who wasn't involved in the new study said that it was impossible to exclude the possibility of a similar early exchange of knowledge among modern human and Neanderthal populations. This could have had an impact on the production of the Einhornhhle engraved artifact.Bello said that learning, integration of innovation into one's culture, and adaptation to new technologies and abstract concepts should all be considered a part of human behaviour complexity. The Einhornhhle engraved bone brings Neanderthal behavior closer to modern Homo sapiens.AdvertisementIt is possible, however, that the authors of this new study were correct. The bone carving was done by Neanderthals, and modern humans did not have any involvement. In addition to the cultural contributions mentioned above, Neanderthals engaged in sophisticated behaviors such as caring for disabled relatives, burying their deceased, and taking care their teeth. It is not surprising that Neanderthals were able to carve patterns into bone.