A study published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE has provided evidence to date the age and origin of engravings discovered on a cave wall in France.
Conducted by a team of researchers led by Jean-Claude Marquet from the University of Tours, France, the study confirms that these engravings were undeniably crafted by Neanderthals, making them the oldest known examples of such artistic expressions attributed to this ancient human species.
Advancements in scientific research in recent years have provided valuable insights into the intricate cultural world of Neanderthals. However, the realm of symbolic and artistic expression remains largely unexplored.
While only a small number of symbolic artifacts have been associated with Neanderthals, their meanings and significance continue to be subjects of ongoing scholarly discussions. Addressing this knowledge gap, Marquet and colleagues have made a significant breakthrough in their study, unveiling ancient engravings found on a cave wall in France as the earliest known manifestations of artistic expression by Neanderthals.
The cave, known as La Roche-Cotard, in the Centre-Val de Loire of France, contains a series of non-figurative markings on the wall that are interpreted as finger-flutings (marks made by human hands).
The researchers made a plotting analysis and used photogrammetry to create 3D models of these markings, comparing them with known and experimental human markings. Based on the shape, spacing, and arrangement of these engravings, the team concluded that they are deliberate, organized and intentional shapes created by human hands.
To establish a comprehensive understanding of the cave’s history, the research team went beyond the artistic aspects and conducted optically-stimulated luminescence dating on cave sediments.
The results unveiled a significant event occurring approximately 57,000 years ago when the cave was effectively sealed off by sediment accumulation, predating the establishment of Homo sapiens in the region.
This temporal context, coupled with the exclusive presence of Mousterian stone tools within the cave—technology closely associated with Neanderthals—constitutes robust evidence firmly establishing the Neanderthals as the creators behind these engravings.
The presence of enigmatic non-figurative symbols within La Roche-Cotard cave presents a captivating mystery regarding their intended meaning. However, their temporal correlation with cave engravings produced by Homo sapiens in various global locales adds another layer of intrigue. This growing body of evidence points towards a rich tapestry of behaviors and activities exhibited by Neanderthals, underscoring their remarkable complexity and diversity, which parallels the creative endeavors witnessed in our own human ancestors.
Header Image Credit : Jean-Claude Marquet, CC-BY 4.0
Geophysical study finds evidence of “labyrinth” buried beneath Mitla
A geophysical study has found underground structures and tunnels beneath Mitla – The Zapotec “Place of the Dead”
Mitla is an archaeological site associated with the Zapotec culture, located in the Oaxaca Valley in the present-day state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
The Zapotec civilisation emerged in the late 6th century BC, originating in the Central Valleys of the Etla. The culture was centred on the settlements of Oaxaca, San José Mogote, and Mitla, with the city of Monte Albán serving as the civic-ceremonial centre.
At its peak, the Zapotec had a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, having developed sophisticated construction techniques, a writing system, two calendar systems, and complex agricultural cultivation.
In 2016, the Lyobaa Project, an institutional collaboration led by the National Institute of History and Anthropology (INAH) employed ground penetrating radar (GPR), electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), and ambient seismic noise interferometry (AIRSA) to explore potential archaeological features beneath the San Pablo Apóstol church, built atop the Zapotec ruins in Mitla.
Image Credit : Lyobaa Project
According to local legend, the church was constructed on an entrance way to an underground labyrinth, serving as a passage between the realm of the living to the realm of the dead, referred to as Mictlán in Nahuatl, meaning the “place of the dead” or “underworld.”
In 1674, the Dominican chronicler, Francisco Burgoa, described Spanish missionaries entering the labyrinth: “Such was the corruption and bad smell, the dampness of the floor, and a cold wind which extinguished the lights, that at the little distance they had already penetrated, they resolved to come out, and ordered this infernal gate to be thoroughly closed with masonry.”
As part of phase two of the Lyobaa Project, the researchers have identified buried architectural complexes and a series of corridors during a study of the Calvario, Arroyo, and del Sur groups within the archaeological zone.
The Arroyo group, located in the central area of the site has three quadrangle features connected by tunnels that likely date from AD 1200 during the Late Postclassic period.
The project also conducted a survey of the quadrangular plaza where the San Pablo Apóstol church was constructed on the remains of a pre-Hispanic temple. Beneath the plaza the researchers found that there are four mounds with clay internal cores.
Archaeologist, Denisse Argote, said: “We were able to determine that, although the core of the stepped structure is solid, the foundation of the historic church requires short-term intervention to guarantee its conservation, so measures must be taken to ensure its structural stability.”
“There are cracks in the historic building, since it does not have a foundation and, underneath, in what corresponds to the remains of the pre-Hispanic building, it seems that there are areas with small cavities,” added Argote.
Header Image Credit : Shutterstock
Sources : INAH
This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily
Discovery of a Romanesque religious structure rewrites history of Frauenchiemsee
Archaeologists from the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation have announced the discovery of a Romanesque religious structure on the island of Frauenchiemsee, the second largest of the three islands in Chiemsee, Germany.
According to the researchers, the structure holds important religious significance, suggesting it might have been erected to venerate Blessed Irmgard (also known as Irmengard), the daughter of King Louis the German and the great-granddaughter of Charlemagne.
During the mid-9th century, Irmgard was appointed the first abbess of Frauenwörth Abbey, who restored the decaying premises and founded a Benedictine convent for nuns. Because of her royal ancestry, she had the right to wear a thin golden hoop resembling a crown, often depicted on paintings and frescoes with her image.
Following her death in 866, Irmgard was venerated and her head reliquary was translated to Seeon Abbey in 1004. She was officially beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI, and a celebratory ceremony in 2003 saw her relics reunified.
A recent geophysical study to locate the demolished remains of the Church of Saint Martin has revealed the imprint of a Romanesque structure completely absent from all historical text and contemporary maps.
Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation
The structure is buried at a depth of 1 metre and measures 19 metres in diameter. The GPR results reveal the floor plan of an octagonal central building with an ambulatory formed by eight supports and four arrange in a cross shape.
Mathias Pfeil of the Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation notes that religious structures with pre-Romanesque or Romanesque architecture, particularly those with sacral significance, are exceedingly uncommon north of the Alps. Such edifices are often perceived as imitations of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
According to the researchers, the structure was likely built during the construction of the new monastery and Romanesque abbey church (of which the gatehouse and bell tower survive to this day) to venerate Irmgard as a destination for pilgrims
Header Image Credit : Bavarian State Office for Monument Preservation
This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily
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