In a cave by the sea on the southwestern tip of Europe, researchers have found what it is claimed to be first rock art created by Neanderthals.
Rock art in general is synonymous with modern humans, so this is a pretty big deal. The series of scratched lines, or engravings, could be evidence that Neanderthals had a more cognitive range than previously thought.
The findings, however, are very much disputed as the dating of the marks are still “up in the air”. With the disappearance of Neanderthals 41,030 – 39,260 years ago and the arrival of modern sapiens 45,000 – 43,000 years ago, there are several thousand years of overlapping, which has some people pointing to modern humans for this “artistic” flair.
The engravings were covered in sediment, and artifacts of a Neanderthal nature were discovered in these layers, leading scientists to believe that the engravings are significantly older.
As far as scientists know, Neanderthals lived in groups, had their own way of verbally communicating, buried their dead and cared for their sick, so the question is put out there: Could they not express themselves creatively as well?
The study was released this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.