Neanderthal, the first rope weaver 40,000 years ago
Our old missing cousin, the Neanderthal Man has not finished surprising us. From discoveries to archaeological discoveries, here we learn that he made ornaments, manufactured sophisticated tools or more recently, that he exploited marine resources in the coastal areas that he encountered. Better: the Neanderthals, it seems, have mastered the manufacture of ropes – and perhaps even before anatomically modern man -, as evidenced by the discovery on a prehistoric site of the Ardèche, l’Abri du Maras , a six-centimeter-long piece of rope on a flint that is at least 41,000 years old. The find, described this Thursday in Scientific reports, is new for more than one reason. First, because it is the oldest trace of a twisted fiber “technology” of this type – coniferous cellulose which is more – unearthed to this day – the oldest dates back to there 19,000 years, ten millennia after the disappearance of Neanderthals. Second, because the presence of this type of artifact requires very advanced cognition, in particular the fact of mastering mathematical concepts such as pairs and numbers. Far from being stupid Neanderthal then, or at least almost as much as us.
(Photo Moncel et al., Scientific Reports, April 2020)