Neanderthals had ídistinct culturesí: Ancient tool types show knowledge was passed down generations
2013-08-20 0:00

By Sarah Griffiths | dailymail.co.uk



Neanderthals were more culturally complex than previously thought, according to scientists who have studied prehistoric handaxes.
The design of handaxes, the multipurpose tool used by Neanderthals primarily to prepare food, were passed down the generations and demonstrate social learning in different groups living in what is now modern Europe.

Two cultural traditions existed among Neanderthals living in northern Europe between 115,000 to 35,000 years ago, the researchers said.



Dr Karen Ruebens from the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of Southampton examined the design of 1,300 stone tools originating from 80 Neanderthal sites in five European countries; France, Germany, Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands.

Dr Ruebensí investigations uncovered new evidence that two separate handaxe traditions or designs existed; one in a region now spanning south-western France and Britain and the other in Germany and further to the East.

She also found an area covering modern day Belgium and the Netherlands that demonstrates a transition between the two.

She told MailOnline the handaxes were used for similar functions - to butcher animals, woodworking and hideworking - in both regions she studied and described them as ímultifunctional toolsí.


A map of the area where the hand axe cultures were spread out during the Middle Pleistocene. The study found the design of handaxes was passed down generations in different groups living in what is now modern Europe

Dr Ruebens said: íIn Germany and France there appears to be two separate handaxe traditions, with clear boundaries, indicating completely separate, independent developments.

íThe transition zone in Belgium and Northern France indicates contact between the different groups of Neanderthals, which is generally difficult to identify but has been much talked about, especially in relation to later contacts with groups of modern humans.í

íThis area can be seen as a melting pot of ideas where mobile groups of Neanderthals, both from the eastern and western tradition, would pass by Ė influencing each otherís designs and leaving behind a more varied record of bifacial tools.í

The University of Southampton research has revealed Neanderthals in the western region made symmetrical, triangular and heart-shaped handaxes, while during the same time period, in the eastern region, they produced asymmetrically shaped bifacial knives.

Dr Ruebens said: íDistinct ways of making a handaxe were passed on from generation to generation and for long enough to become visible in the archaeological record.

íThis indicates a strong mechanism of social learning within these two groups and says something about the stability and connectivity of the Neanderthal populations.

íMaking stone tools was not merely an opportunistic task. A lot of time, effort and tradition were invested and these tools carry a certain amount of socio-cultural information, which does not contribute directly to their function.í

The study also said other factors previously thought to have determined the shape of handaxes, including the raw materials available to Neanderthals, the function of their sites or the repeated reuse and sharpening of tools, didnít have an impact.

She told MailOnline the ícultural pattern overrides the other factorsí.

Dr Reubens said: íThere was a habit to make the handaxes in a certain way [in distinct groups] that was passed down generation to generation.
íIt was a conscious decision to make them [the tools] in a certain way.í
She also said that there was íno linkí between the different shaped tools being used for different tasks.

The various shaped handaxes are all thought to be multipurpose prehistoric tools.

Dr Reubensí research, which was published in the Journal of Human Evolution, adds to an emerging archaeological perspective on Neanderthal regionality, which is a concept also identified in studies of their skeletal and genetic features.


Article from: dailymail.co.uk




Tune into Red Ice Radio:

Danny Vendramini - Hour 1 - Them & Us: Neanderthal Predation Theory



Related Articles


Latest News from our Front Page

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female
2015-04-25 4:52
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole ‚Äúrape and pillage‚ÄĚ thing, too. Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided ...
Off Your Knees, Germany! Ernst Zundel 1983 - 2003
2015-04-25 1:15
For more information on the holocaust, how the war was forced upon Germany, and the REAL victims of the second world war see: http://gblt.webs.com/Real_Holocaust.htm http://web.archive.org/web/20130806074314/http://www.666blacksun.org/ http://www.zundelsite.org/
IRS Drops Attack For Six Years ‚Äď No Evidence of Jurisdiction
2015-04-24 20:29
A big congrats to a friend I‚Äôve been working with for several years, he stood up to the predators commonly called the ‚ÄúIRS‚ÄĚ and they dropped their attack. Thanks also for providing me with the proof below. The criminals called the ‚ÄúIRS‚ÄĚ initiated an attack claiming my friend was required to file six tax returns, or explain how he made ...
Into Eternity - Finland's 100,000 Year Massive Underground Spent Nuclear Fuel Program
2015-04-24 20:49
Into Eternity is a documentary about a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. The concept of long-term underground storage for radioactive waste has been explored since the 1950s. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experiments on copper corrosion in running ...
SPLC Accuses Oath Keepers of Inciting ‚ÄúArmed Confrontation‚ÄĚ Over Sugar Pine Mine
2015-04-24 20:22
The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Oath Keepers of inciting an armed confrontation with BLM authorities over the Sugar Pine Mine dispute in Oregon, despite the fact that the organization has explicitly stated that it is not promoting armed confrontation with the feds. In an article provocatively posted on the organization‚Äôs ‚ÄėHatewatch‚Äô section entitled Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with ...
More News »