French Scientists discover World’s oldest structure built by Neanderthals about 170,000 years ago

Bruniquel cave suggests that people outside Africans were developing their own symbolic system and had cognitive abilities.

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Drilling into the staglagmitic floor, Image credits : popularmechanics.com

So deep inside the cave, it was only darkness that prevailed and sunlight was just a dream. The mysterious caves discovered recently, has ceiling dripped with mineral-laden water and has spiny stalagmites on the floor. While the structures remains a mystery, their creators are not.

  • Neanderthals were subspecies of humans who lived 400,000 to 40,000 years ago. One in Africa (Homo sapiens) and another in Eurasia (Homo Neanderthalensis). Both were same in terms of technological development, knowledge, and spirituality. The recent discovery confirms that they knew construction works and made structures that can be dated back to 175000- 50,000 years ago.
  • Neanderthals were the only group present at that time in western Europe. So this discovery provides the direct link regarding their building abilities. This also proved that they explored underground.

Scientists create an artificial look alike of Homo Neanderthal. Image source: humanorigins.si.edu
Scientists create an artificial look alike of Homo Neanderthal. Image source: humanorigins.si.edu

  • In the 1990s, a French scientist explored the Bruniquel cave but he died in between his research and was not able to complete it.Now 23 years later a crew of scientists and Geologist Dominique Genty with France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) have found this mysterious caves deep down into 1,000 feet. What is now western France is a twisting cave 30 miles underground. Researchers said that the discovery has helped them in understanding the traditional Neanderthal culture.

Internal cave structure, Image credits : popularmechanics.com
Internal cave structure, Image credits : popularmechanics.com

  • Bruniquel cave was discovered in 1992. It was found in the dark reaches 1,102 feet below from the cave’s entrance. The cave was full of paintings. One of the discovered ring structures is about 7 feet in diameter. However the other one is around 15 – 22 feet in diameter. These rings are cracked and blackened which proves that they were firstly heated by fire.
  • Scientists found more than 400 stalagmites of the same size stacked together to form walls of 2 mysterious circular structures. (Stalagmites are the mineral spears that rise up from the ground; stalactites are the hanging ones.)
  • This piece of work is totally a blunder. It is way more complex than what was thought of those underrated hominid species (Neanderthals). This also proves that they were socially more complex than classic.

Mounted Neanderthal skeleton at American Museum of Natural History. Image source: Wikipedia
Mounted Neanderthal skeleton at American Museum of Natural History. Image source: Wikipedia

  • Scientists who were able to explore the Bruniquel cave such as Jaubert told that “This certainly was a collective work, and required at least a minimum of social organization. Some had to carry torches, some had to move and transport materials, some had placed them in this specific configuration, and so on.
  • One can totally assume that the cave structures represent some symbolic or ritual behaviour or maybe they were served for domestic purposes. The burn patterns inside the cave resemble that the structure made such that it itself light on fire. Scientists also found burned pieces of animal bones which indicate that they could have been used as torches.
  • Though modern Africans dominated the world after they crossed into Eurasia (nearly 80,000 years ago), Bruniquel cave suggests that people outside Africans were developing their own symbolic system and had cognitive abilities.

-by Pritam

Pritam is an engineering student and an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle @pritam_gogreen

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  • Pritam Go Green

    This is totally strange !!! The way they built those caves were just amazing ! Didn’t know our ancestors were this much talented ..