The Rock Art Network
The Rock Art Network
The Rock Art Network
Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News
Neanderthal string-making
Tuesday 14 April 2020

An article by Malcolm Ritter on phys.org - Tie game: Ancient bit of string shows Neanderthal handiwork - reports on the oldest known direct evidence for string-making, thought to be the work of the Neanderthal.

Ancient string Neanderthal handiwork oldest direct evidence string-making
Photograph of the cord fragment taken by digital microscopy (the fragment is approximately 6.2 mm long and 0.5 mm wide). Credit: © C2RMF

It looked like a white splotch on the underside of a Neanderthal stone tool. But a microscope showed it was a bunch of fibers twisted around each other.

Article continues below
Article continues

Further examination revealed it was the first direct evidence that Neanderthals could make string, and the oldest known direct evidence for string-making overall, researchers say.

Ancient string Neanderthal handiwork oldest direct evidence string-making
Excavation of Abri du Maras. Credit: M-H. Moncel

The study team suggests that the find implies our evolutionary cousins had some understanding of numbers and the trees that furnished the raw material.

Bruce Hardy, of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, and colleagues report the discovery in a paper released recently by the journal Scientific Reports. The string hints at the possibility of other abilities, like making bags, mats, nets and fabric.

It came from an archaeological site - Abri du Maras - in the Rhone River valley of southeastern France, and it's about 40,000 to 50,000 years old. Researchers don't know how Neanderthals used the string or even whether it had been originally attached to the stone cutting tool.

Ancient string Neanderthal handiwork oldest direct evidence string-making
SEM photo of Neanderthal cord from Abri du Maras. Credit: M-H. Moncel

Hardy explains that perhaps the tool happened to fall on top of the string, preserving the quarter-inch (6.2 mm) segment while the rest perished over time. The string is about one-fiftieth of an inch (0.55 mm) wide.

It was made of fiber from the inner bark of trees. Neanderthals twisted three bundles of fibers together counterclockwise, and then twisted these bundles together clockwise to make the string. According to Hardy, that assembly process shows some sense of numbers.

Paola Villa, a Neanderthal expert at the University of Colorado Museum who was not involved in the new study, noted that Hardy had previously found "tantalizing evidence" for string-making by Neanderthals. She believes the new work now shows that directly.

Comment
Archaeology
Neanderthal string-making
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 14 April 2020
Mammoth bone circular structure
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 18 March 2020
Genetic code extracted from gum
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 18 December 2019
Neolithic settlement discovered in Turkey
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 05 December 2019
Lion figurine discovered in Denisova Cave
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 21 November 2019
Modern technology for ancient ochre
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 20 November 2019
Mammoth traps discovered in Mexico
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 12 November 2019
Earlier development of prehistoric weapons
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 03 October 2019
Raiders of the Lost Past on BBC
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 12 September 2019
Megalthic site discovery in Spain
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 30 August 2019
Haul of hundreds of hunter gatherer tools sheds light on Scotland's earliest residents
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 14 August 2019
Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 11 June 2019
Easter Island research & preservation
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 23 April 2019
John Desmond Clark
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 10 April 2019
Oldest confirmed tattooing combs
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 06 March 2019
Transporting the bluestones of Stonehenge
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 19 February 2019
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation
on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation on social media for news & updates
Follow the Bradshaw Foundation
on social media for news & updates
If you have enjoyed visiting this website
please consider adding a link © Bradshaw Foundation
 
 
ROCK ART NETWORK
Rock Art Network Bradshaw Foundation Getty Conservation Institute
The Final Passage
by Rock Art Network
4 May 2020
ARCHAEOLOGY
Neanderthal string-making
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 14 April 2020
Mammoth bone circular structure
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 18 March 2020
Genetic code extracted from gum
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 18 December 2019
Neolithic settlement discovered in Turkey
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 05 December 2019
Lion figurine discovered in Denisova Cave
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 21 November 2019
Modern technology for ancient ochre
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 20 November 2019
Mammoth traps discovered in Mexico
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 12 November 2019
Earlier development of prehistoric weapons
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 03 October 2019
Raiders of the Lost Past on BBC
by Bradshaw Foundation
Thursday 12 September 2019
Megalthic site discovery in Spain
by Bradshaw Foundation
Friday 30 August 2019
Haul of hundreds of hunter gatherer tools sheds light on Scotland's earliest residents
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 14 August 2019
Bryn Celli Ddu on Anglesey
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 11 June 2019
Easter Island research & preservation
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 23 April 2019
John Desmond Clark
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 10 April 2019
Oldest confirmed tattooing combs
by Bradshaw Foundation
Wednesday 06 March 2019
Transporting the bluestones of Stonehenge
by Bradshaw Foundation
Tuesday 19 February 2019
Bradshaw Foundation Donate Friends
Support our work & become a
Friend of the Foundation
 
 
Bradshaw Foundation Facebook
 
Bradshaw Foundation YouTube
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store
Bradshaw Foundation iShop Shop Store