Neanderthal cave dwellers dated to 176,500 BC

Structure built of broken stalactites (photo Michel Soulier, www.libération.fr)

The French newspaper LibĂ©ration reports that a structure discovered in a cave in the Aveyron gorge, which is made of broken stalactites arranged in a circle, has been dated to 176,500 BC (by uranium/thorium dating of the calcite on the surface of the broken piece, compared to the base of overlying calcite deposited after the structure had been created). It is believed that the structure was made by people because there is evidence also of fires being lit inside the circle. If the interpretation is right, this is the earliest manmade structure found in a cave so far, and is over a hundred thousand years older than Lascaux and Chauvet. This is extraordinary because there were no Homo Sapiens in France 176,500 years ago – the structure must have been made by Neanderthal man. Hitherto (the article says) it had not been believed that Neanderthal man made art or created anything for non-subsistence, cultural reasons. Have a look at http://www.liberation.fr/futurs/2016/05/25/surprise-a-bruniquel-neandertal-explorait-deja-les-grottes-il-y-a-176-000-ans_1455127

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