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Neanderthal scratches on deer bones: carcass droppings or symbolic thinking

Neanderthal scratches on deer bones: carcass droppings or symbolic thinking

In the Harz mountains in Germany, in a rhino cave (deه unicorn cave) The foot bone of a giant deer was found about 50,000 years old with ten notches that together form two patterns. According to researchers presenting the discovery this week at Nature’s environment and development, the line patterns are a clear indication of the abstract and symbolic thinking (“conceptual imagination”) of Neanderthals.

It did not appear in this area until after about five thousand years (sane man), which has already been found on “scratch drawings” similar to 100,000 ancient Ocher cut in South Africa. That Neanderthals also had this type of expression is not surprising. Being from Spain abstract rock paintings Known 65,000 years ago and attributed to Neanderthals. And in a few places, including Fomani (Italy) and Krapina (Croatia), fossils of Neanderthals also made bird claws Found that they were sometimes used as pendants. These drawings and objects would also indicate the symbolic abilities of Neanderthals.

It’s unclear if the striped pattern on the foot bone, which measures about 5.5 x 4 x 3 cm, actually represents anything. The giant deer, which could carry antlers with a wingspan of three and a half meters, was relatively rare in the region. This admiration and rarity, according to researchers, led by Dirk Leider (Lower Saxony Heritage Institute) and Thomas Terberger (University of Göttingen), contributed to the object’s ‘symbolic value’, which can also be easily corrected.

praise and criticism

This discovery has been met with praise and criticism in archaeology. at Linked Comment British archaeologist Sylvia Bello (Natural History Museum, London) writes that he is pleased that the bone from Unicorn Cave adds important evidence to the symbolic repertoire of Neanderthals. According to her, it is “one of the most complex technical expressions of Neanderthals known today.”

But from Leiden, Will Robrox, professor of archeology and Neanderthal expert, is notably skeptical about this interpretation of the lines. “That’s too far for me,” he says over the phone. “Neanderthals were very successful in hunting and gathering, and able to do a lot, but whether they were capable of symbolic and abstract thinking, we don’t know.” And that bone certainly won’t contribute to this evidence of symbolic thinking, according to Robbocks.

The German team determined through experiments that the lines were probably made with minute, deep incisions in a pre-cooked bone, which turned out to be soft enough. It is not known if the old bone was also cooked. In all, the editing could have taken about an hour and a half, ten minutes per tape, but Robrox was unimpressed: “When I look at this bone, I see nothing special. They say the tracks are too deep and this pattern is too regular to be the result of butchering activities.” Ordinary, but I doubt it. It’s traces of cutting the bones of the foot of such an animal. taktakTurn around and then again taktaktak. Why they cut those bones is not entirely clear, they probably did it for the bone marrow. Anyway, I don’t see any reason to interpret “non-functional”.

Principle problems

But apart from explaining this giant concrete deer bone, Robros also sees fundamental problems in the step toward symbolic thinking in prehistoric people. “Okay, I found obvious human modifications, but then? How do you go from this observation to the next step? That this would be non-functional and thus a pattern, and thus refer to symbolic thinking? Then you build assumption upon assumption, possibility upon possibility, but that becomes a house of Paper At that time, we focused on our publications about Shell from Trinil, which 450,000 years ago a standing man Scratched, he’s really limited to this conclusion: “This is a regular pattern.” Whether this thing was intended and used symbolically, we don’t know. The symbol derives its meaning and function from the social and cultural environment, about which we know nothing of this distant past. This is also the case here. I would like to go here for a working explanation.”

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