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Until recently,Homo neanderthalensis were considered members of an underdeveloped species compared toHomo sapiens.
However, the findings of the last decades have only demonstrated the cultural complexity of theneanderthals. Now the discovery of anatural fiber rope fragment broadens our knowledge about the cognitive abilities of this species.
The international team, led by Bruce Hardy, a researcher at Kenyon College, Gambier (USA), and his colleagues, includingCéline Kerfant, a doctoral student at the Rovira i Virgili University and the Catalan Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), found a six-millimeter-long rope made from three bundles of twisted fibers that have appeared on alithic piece 60 millimeters.
The finding, published in the magazineScientific Reports, suggests that the rope, between 52,000 and 41,000 years old and discovered at the site ofAbri du Marais in France, it may have been wrapped around the tool as if it were amango or it could also be part of a net or a bag that contained it.
According to the authors, the rope made by Neanderthals is the oldest direct evidence of technology based on the use of natural fibers to obtain threads and craft objects.
Until now, the oldest evidence was fibers discovered in Ohalo II, in Israel, with a dating of about 19,000 years old.
The finding thus extends our knowledge about the cognitive abilities of Neanderthals during the Middle Palaeolithic, between 300,000 and 30,000 years before the present. These would be more similar to those of modern humans than what had been considered.
How Neanderthals Made Rope
The rope identification has been carried out with advanced techniques of stereomicroscopy and microscopy.
In this way, it has been observed that the fibers with which it has been made were extracted from the inner part of the bark of a plant without flowers, such as a conifer.
In the study, the scientists indicate that the production of ropes would suppose, by part of the Neanderthal communities, a extensive knowledge about the growth and seasonality of the trees used.
The research team also notes that they would have some command of math concepts and basic numbering skills to create the fiber bundles, three-layer cord and multi-strand cord.
Hardy, B. L., et al. "Direct evidence of Neanderthal fiber technology and its cognitive and behavioral implications".Scientific Reports (2020).