Neanderthal's artistic impressions are still a question in the anthropology community. Experts don't have enough data on whether the human ancestors have knowledge of symbolism and artistry. But a recent study shows evidence that the Neadetheral's might have been fond of aesthetics. 

Are Neanderthal Markings in Cave of Ardales a Stone Age Artwork?

Flowstone Formation in Sala De Las Estrellas at Cueva De Ardales

The stone age ancestors might have actually appreciated the beauty and decorative sense, contrary to what we thought. The discovery was found in a rock formation located in southern Spain. Experts observed the mineral specimen to have markings created from what appears to be a mixture of ferric oxide and clay, also known as the ocher pigment. Based on the structure of the art, the archeologists theorized that the Neanderthals intentionally painted the cave walls. According to a report by CNN, this statement is contrary to the initial claim of the authors that the markings were naturally embedded onto the surface of the mineral.

The paintings from the European cave dates back to the stone age, over 60,000 years ago. The fragments of the painted rock were sourced from the Cueva de Ardales, a cave with abundant stalagmite formations that measure up to 100 meters. The rock paintings are comprised of red pigments.

The archeologists investigated the specimens tinted with red ocher pigments, which normally work with clay for color application. However, this tint that was made by the Neanderthals has been sourced not inside the same cave but from a separate place. The study of the Neanderthal's artistic impressions was published in the journal PNAS, titled "The Symbolic Role of the Underground World Among Middle Paleolithic Neanderthals."

The ocher pigments, based on the study, were harvested, transported, and prepared prior to entering the cave and painting the stalagmites. The University of Barcelona and University of Lisbon professor and author of the study Joao Zilhao said that the Neanderthals planned the whole process of painting the cave comprehensively. Zilhao added that the deliberate planning required the Neanderthals to have decent lighting to conduct the activity, which was implied in the findings from the research.

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Cave Paintings of Neanderthals Not Artwork but Territorial Symbol

The cave paintings, according to the authors, were not an expression of artistic design but markings that signify the place as a symbolic sanctuary for the Neanderthals. Zilhao said that the underground place is definitely significant with regard to the lifestyle of the Neanderthals and possibly their mythical beliefs. According to a report by SciTechDaily, the paintings inside the cave of Ardales are also identified to have two distinct pigments, which were applied in separate schedules.

The authors believe that the cave paintings were an effect of the overlapping timelines of the Neanderthals and the modern humans after the great migration from Africa 30,000 years ago. The early and modern human merge was estimated to transpire for about 6,000 years. The migration contributed to a variety of socio-economic advancements for various groups. Unfortunately, it took place right before the Neanderthals became extinct.

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