An ancient string discovered at an archaeological site in south-eastern France has reignited debate on Neanderthals’ intellect. The chord was spotted in a cave on a stone tool. According to the study, conducted by a team of researchers from France, Spain and the United States, it dates back to 40,000-50, 000 years ago and is the oldest known evidence for string-making.
Photograph of the Neanderthal cord fragment taken by digital microscopy. The fragment is approximately 6.2 mm long and 0.5 mm wide. Credit: © C2RMF pic.twitter.com/mABp0uX4gn— The Ice Age ❄️ (@Jamie_Woodward_) April 12, 2020
The fragment is a three-ply cord made of inner bark from a conifer tree, which according to the scientists signifies that archaic humans had multi-component technology and understood the concepts of pairs, sets, and numbers. The finding implies that Neanderthals had a detailed ecological understanding of trees and how they can be used for production.
The researchers say that this and other discoveries made in the past make the idea that Neanderthals were cognitively inferior increasingly untenable. "Given the ongoing revelations of Neanderthal art and technology, it is difficult to see how we can regard Neanderthals as anything other than the cognitive equals of modern humans", the study said.