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    Archaeologists Say Jersey Was Neanderthal Vacation Hot Spot

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    Archaeologists exploring the island of Jersey, off the coast of Normandy, France, have discovered that Neanderthals were regular guests at La Cotte de St Brelade, despite a vastly-changing climate and an altering landscape.

    Newly-found evidence suggests that the ancient people regularly returned to a coastal cave on the island, beginning at least 180,000 years ago, until around 40,000 years ago, when they became extinct.

    A recent study conducted by archaeologists from Southampton University, along with researchers from other British universities and the British Museum, has increased our understanding of how our ancestors used available resources at the prehistoric site, mapping their movements by re-examining artefacts excavated from the cave.

    "La Cotte seems to have been a special place for Neanderthals," lead-author Andy Shaw, an archaeologist at the University of Southampton, said in a news release. "They kept making deliberate journeys to reach the site over many, many generations."

    Archaeologists seek to learn why the area around La Cotte inspired regular visits by Neanderthals.

    "We're really interested in how this site became 'persistent' in the minds of early Neanderthals," said Beccy Scott, a researcher with the British Museum.

    Scott suggested that the ancient visitors may have repeatedly returned to the Island because it was a highly-visible landmark. It could also be that thecave served as shelter along an ordinarily cold and exposed migration route between France and the UK, and the species passed the knowledge to successive generations.  

    Based on the findings in the region, archaeologists now think that the coastal cave zone could be the most important Neanderthal site in northwestern Europe, and could be one of the last known places in which Neanderthals survived.

    Shaw also emphasized that the site's status as a persistent Neanderthal habitation "suggests a level of social and cognitive development permitting reference to and knowledge of places distant in time and space as long ago as at least MIS 7 [244,000 years ago]."

    Landscapes the Neanderthals once traveled to reach Jersey are now inaccessible to modern humans, as they lie beneath the English Channel.    

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