Skip to comments.Wooden tools hint at fire use by early Neanderthals
Posted on 02/16/2018 9:34:56 AM PST by SunkenCiv
A study suggests that early Neanderthals in southern Tuscany may have used fire to manufacture wooden tools used for foraging. In 2012, excavations for constructing thermal baths at Poggetti Vecchi, nestled at the foot of a hill in Grosseto in southern Tuscany, turned up a trove of wooden implements and fossil bones of the straight-tusked elephant Palaeoloxodon antiquus. The site was radiometrically dated to the late Middle Pleistocene, around 171,000 years ago, when early Neanderthals inhabited the region. Biancamaria Aranguren and colleagues report that most of the wooden implements were hewn from boxwood branches and likely used as digging sticks. The ends of the 100 cm-long sticks were fashioned into blunt points and rounded handles useful for foraging; such digging sticks have been known to be used for gathering plants and hunting small game. Cut marks and striations on the sticks bear witness to the manufacturing process, and signs of superficial charring and microanalysis of blackened surfaces suggest the use of fire, in addition to stone tools, to scrape and shape the sticks. The choice of boxwood, among the hardiest and heaviest of European timbers, and the inferred use of fire buttress the technical mastery of toolmaking by early Neanderthals, and suggest the early use of pyrotechnology for fabricating wooden tools. According to the authors, the finds at Poggetti Vecchi furnish some of the earliest evidence of wood processing and fire use by Neanderthals.
(Excerpt) Read more at popular-archaeology.com ...
Detail of the handle of digging stick no. 2 on the paleosurface U2 of the Poggetti Vecchi site. PNAS
So easy even a cave man can do it.
Wooden tools 171,000 years old that didn’t rot away? Color me a bit skeptical.
Fire also hardens wooden tools; it is not just used to shape the tool. I suspect they did it more for hardening than shaping. But what do I know?
I’m thinking either a rake or hoe handle; early True Temper.
Whenever I chat up Neanderthal chicks,
my Cro-Magnon gonads keep stalling.
It’s not a bad lick how her brow is too thick,
but that New Jersey accent’s appalling.
Concur. I don't think we date things as accurately as we think we do. I doubt that these sticks are anywhere near that age.
In anaerobic conditions, such as very wet or waterlogged soils, the lack of oxygen drastically slows the processes of decomposition.
It's how you get petrified wood. Just takes much more time.
Understand about anaerobic conditions, but 171,000 years? Also, look at the soil in the photo. That doesn’t look like a peat bog but regular soil.
>>Understand about anaerobic conditions, but 171,000 years? Also, look at the soil in the photo. That doesnt look like a peat bog but regular soil.<<
I am not a biologist nor do I play one on TV nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn last night but I am going to guess there is a reason why they analyze the actual material and not pictures of them.
I’ve never considered Boxwood to be a timber.
I guess timber is British for wood?
Aahhh, Im just a simple housewife, but isnt it well established that the Neanderthals thrived during the Ice Age? Youd assume that, barring the discovery of a thick pelt, fire use would be a given.
Yeah. There’s a weird racist bias against Neandertal, been that way since Virchow decided the fossil remains were 18th century naked cossacks who picked that cave to starve in.
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