French researchers have discovered a 40,000-year-old piece of raven bone at an archaeological site in Crimea that bears finely carved lines. According to researchers, this raven bone suggests that Neanderthals had aesthetic sense.
Neanderthals disappeared 38,000 years ago. The cousins of today’s men, Neanderthals used pigments, gathered feathers of the birds and shells and they sometimes used to bury objects with the dead.
The 1.5 centimeter piece of raven bone that has been discovered has etched lines in such a way that appears to be deliberate. This may also have been symbolic or decorative.
When the raven bone was analysed using a microscope, it was found that six trenches were added first and two more later, apparently in order to make the distance between them more even.
“We could therefore show that Neanderthals made etches with the intent of creating a visually harmonious—and perhaps symbolic—motif,” said researcher Francesco d’Errico, a paleontologist with the University of Bordeaux, and lead author of the study in the journal PLOS ONE.
“There was at least some esthetic reason for these marks because of their regularity, and the act of producing this in a deliberate manner requires a certain level of expertise,” he told AFP.
The study was described as “the first that provides direct evidence to support a symbolic argument for intentional modifications on a bird bone,” said a statement from the journal.
Around 200,000 years ago Neanderthals were alive and existed alongside modern man for about 10,000 years. According to scientists, the last trace of Neanderthals goes back about 38,000 years, however, not completely.
Because of interbreeding with modern people, humans inherited between two and four per cent of Neanderthal genes.