Hence the excitement of the scientists who on Wednesday detailed their findings in the journal “Nature”.
“Inside, we stumbled on circular structures made of 400 stalagmites (note: limestone columns from the floor) and small heaps of stalagmites sectioned says Jacques Jaubert, prehistory professor at the University of Bordeaux and a member of the team that participated in the exploration. We took bits of each of the elements to be able to date them. “The scientists then acquire the certainty that the structures discovered in the cave date from – 176 500 years. They especially are discovering that these clusters of stalagmites have not fallen there by chance but were cut and arranged by man. This is a major discovery.
“So far, we did not think Neanderthals were able to organize themselves in a cave and live there, 336 meters from the entrance in complete darkness, Jacques Jaubert described. I was convinced that if developed structures had been built by Homo sapiens and therefore they dated back – 40,000 years. “It was at this time that modern humans arrived in Europe, resulting in the disappearance of Neanderthals. “We did not know that the Neanderthals went underground, adds his colleague Sophie Verheyden, a researcher at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. So we did not. “
If this discovery is so late is that the treasures of this cavity remained well hidden. “The entrance is so narrow that it was not until 1990 that cavers discovered the cave,” says Jacques Jaubert. It will take until May 2014 and 2015, a team of Franco-Belgian researchers began the long job of dating the cave elements. Specialists have realized that Neanderthal man was able to arrange a cave and be organized (see box). Evidence that the ancestor of modern humans had developed amazing reflection and discernment capacity. “He could take ownership of the underground space, concludes Jacques Jaubert. I am impressed and respectful. “
VIDEO. Bruniquel: a cave that changes our view of the Neanderthal
Jacques Jaubert is prehistory professor at the University of Bordeaux. He co-led the exploration project of the cave Bruniquel (Tarn-et-Garonne)
The structures discovered in the cave date from Bruniquel -. 176 500 years. Is this the oldest evidence of attendance caves by man?
. JACQUES JAUBERT The oldest dated back so far – 38,000 years in the Chauvet cave (note: in Ardèche), including drawings, prints and paintings. But – 176,500 years, ever! Because at that time there were only Neanderthals in Europe, not Homo sapiens. I did not think that Neanderthal man could live in a cave, we thought it was reserved for the modern man.
What did you learn about the way of life of Neanderthal man?
Inside the cave, we found stalagmites that had been cut, calibrated to size, transported and arranged in a circle. And the complexity of the device, it means that the development project of this cave has been designed, developed. We did not know that Neanderthal man was able to do that! It is assumed that there must be exchanges between them, an allocation to build the structures and even a hierarchy.
What could serve these structures?
This will be the subject of our next explorations. But they found the charred bones and assume they were used as fuel for fires. The lights overhanging structure, so we guess that allowed them to light up. They were 336 meters from the entrance, without light, so the hypothesis holds.
Neanderthal was able to arrange a cave and be organized
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