Saturday, September 6, 2014

Prehistoric hashtag

These marks in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar were made deliberately, by repeated scoring in the same direction with a robust cutting tip. Overlaying the rock engraving was undisturbed sediment in which 39,000-year-old Neanderthal artifacts had previously been discovered. Geochemical analysis of the mineral coating on the carved grooves also suggests that the sediment was deposited after the rock art had been created. Because modern humans – to whom all past cave art has been exclusively attributed – did not arrive in Western Europe until about 40,000 years ago, this surely means that the intellectually-maligned Neanderthals made the markings themselves and therefore had the capacity for abstract expression. Discoverer Ruth Blasco of the Gibraltar Museum and her colleagues state, "The results add to evidence at other sites that Neanderthal intellectual capacity may have previously been underestimated."

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