Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Neandertals Made Jewellery

Reconstruction of a Neanderthal girl. Image courtesy of Christopher P. E. Zollikofer, Anthropological Institute, University of Zurich, via Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

The more we learn about the Neandertals, the less they confirm to the traditional concept of grunting cavemen. (You can read more here, here and here.)

João Zilhão, an archaeologist at the University of Bristol, and colleagues recently found jewellery in two caves in southeastern Spain. The painted seashells are estimated to be 50, 000 years old according to the evolutionary timescale. Since researchers think that the first H. sapiens arrived some 10,000 years later in Europe, they believe that Neandertals made the brightly-painted ornaments.

The perforated shells were obviously used as necklaces.

The artists who made the ornaments mixed two colours - yellow goethite and red hematite - to produce orange paint. They obviously had to fetch the paints from five kilometres (three miles) away.

In addition to finding tools made from quartz and flint, Zilhão and his colleagues also discovered a horse bone covered with orange pigment. They suggest that it was used for mixing the colours.

Bible-believing scientists have known for a long time that depicting Neanderthal men as primitive cave dwellers is a myth that is unable to withstand critical evaluation.

According to the model based on Genesis, the Neandertals were descendants of Noah who lived in Europe during the ice age following the universal flood.

Zilhão and colleagues published their discovery online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Choi, Charles O. 2010. Heavy Brows, High Art?: Newly Unearthed Painted Shells Show Neandertals Were Homo sapiens's Mental Equals. Scientific American (8 January)