Researchers on Thursday characterized a string made from plant fibers created by the early Neanderthals. It was found in France, in a location where they believed Neanderthals hunted reindeer and is dated more than 40,000 years ago.
The new findings add to the evidence of how the early humans displayed impressive cognitive abilities as opposed to the misconception of their feeblemindedness.
The Early String
The oldest implication that Homo sapiens made string dates back to 19,000 years ago in Israel.
The early string dates back between 42,000 and 52,000 years ago when the Neanderthals occupied the Abri du Maras archeological site in southeastern France. The site is located 30 miles north of Avignon. This is where they allegedly hunted reindeer during seasonal migrations.
The quarter-inch-long fragment used in the study apparently came from fibers obtained from the inner bark of a conifer tree. How they utilized the string is still unclear but may lead to many possible conclusions.
Researchers believe it may have been used to bind a stone-flake blade which measured 2-1/2 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide to a handle. It could have been used to skin animal carcasses or could possibly have been part of a bag or net that ended up under the tool.
Bruce Hardy, an anthropologist at Kenyon College in Ohio, reports that the cord is an example of an 'infinite use of finite means'. He explains how strings and rope can be used in various ways, such as tying tools onto a base, snares, nets, bags, and many more.
He further explains that the use of string and rope, and fiber technology, in general, is essential in our society, which brings us to think that these early humans are indeed more capable than we thought.
Neanderthal VS Modern Human
Previous researches have shown how Neanderthals used elaborate hunting methods, may have used spoken language, used pigments for body painting, used symbolic objects, and may have buried their dead with flowers. Yet, many still undermine these early humans.
Wil Roebroecks at Leiden University in the Netherlands went through archaeological records to in search for evidence of modern human superiority to the Neanderthals but found none. "The explanations make good stories, but the only problem is that there is no archaeology to back them up," Roebroecks said.
Dr Paola Villa at the University of Colorado Museum in Boulder explained that some misunderstanding could have emerged because researchers compared Neanderthals with their descendants, the modern humans, who lived in the Upper Palaeolithic. Villa points out that comparison should have been done with the humans who lived at the same time instead.
Colleagues Roebroecks and Villa argue that the proof for cognitive inferiority is not present and that the accustomed view of Neanderthals is untrue. Their study on the Neanderthal is published in the journal Plos One. Roebroecks further argues that stereotypes help people bring order into the world; however, the prevailing idea most have of the Neanderthal is now slowly washing away in the scientific sphere.