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Czech Republic’s Neanderthal-Age Secrets Brought to Light

Finds from an ancient campsite reveal changing ways of life at a crucial period in the development of modern Europeans.

16 June 2017

Neanderthals may well have encountered modern humans in Moravia around 40,000 years ago, archaeologists believe.

 

In a new paper, scientists based at the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, and several Czech institutions have analyzed objects dating to between 28,000 and 50,000 years ago found at a cave in the eastern Czech Republic.

 

One intriguing discovery was an engraved bone bead, International Business Times reports.

 

 

“This is the oldest portable art object of its type found anywhere in central Europe and provides evidence of social signaling, quite possibly used as a necklace to mark the identity of the wearer,” Australian National University archaeologist Duncan Wright said.

 

A dig in the cave in the Moravian Karst region in 2011-2012 turned up more than 20,000 objects and indications of the changing ways of life of people who used the cave.

 

"We can tell by the artifacts that small groups of people camped at this cave. This was during glacial periods suggesting they were well adapted to these harsh conditions," Wright said.

 

"It's quite possible that the two different species of humans met in this area."

 

The finds enabled archaeologists to work out that people in the area became highly mobile between 40,000 and 48,000 year ago, said Ladislav Nejman of the University of Sydney.

 

"Instead of moving short distances near the cave where they lived, they were walking for hundreds of kilometers quite often. We know that because we found various artifacts where the raw material comes from 100-200 kilometers away,” he said.

 

 

  • A pile of human skeletons and precious objects dating back 2,600 years found in a cave nearby has perplexed archaeologists since its discovery in 1872, The Prague Post wrote in 2011. Originally interpreted as the scene of a chieftain’s burial complete with virgin sacrifices, later archaeologists have claimed the dead were massacred by bandits or sacrificed by a band of blacksmith-priests.

 

  • The famous Old Stone Age site at Dolni Vestonice in south Moravia has given up thousands of clay figurines and other artifacts made by mammoth hunters some 20,000 to 27,000 years ago, notably the “Venus” figurine showing a woman with exaggerated sexual characteristics like those of the Austrian “Venus of Willendorf.”

 

  • Last year Bulgarian archaeologists excavated what they said could be the largest stone building in Europe from prehistoric times.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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