The Elements of Evolution (61-17-2) Neanderthal Technology

 Neanderthal Technology

Neanderthals were technologically savvy. ~ English archeologist Annemieke Milks

Neanderthals invented string 90 TYA. Besides tying things together, they strung shells and other ornaments for necklaces.

44 TYA a community of Neanderthals built a large (40 m2), ring-shaped enclosure using 3,000 mammal bones. Many were mammoth bones. The enclosure may have served as a wind break, or as a base for a wooden building. Animals were butchered, roasted, and eaten within.

Neanderthals rationally organized their living spaces, sometimes creating structures within the caves in which they resided. Hearths were placed to take advantage of radiative warmth. To limit injuries, tool workshops were situated away from high-traffic areas, though where light was abundant.

Neanderthals skillfully made stone tools of a quality roughly equivalent to their contemporaneous African cousins, including the humans that would displace them. For one, Neanderthals solved the problem of hafting a stone point onto a wooden shaft to make a spear. One way they attached a stone spearhead onto a staff was by gluing it on using bitumen (asphalt). This is no simple task. A chunk of bituminous rock had to be heated, and the viscous gunk applied so that the spearhead was properly positioned.

Neanderthals were very capable technicians. ~ English anthropologist Chris Stringer

Neanderthals passed their technical skills on from one generation to the next. When groups encountered each other they exchanged knowledge, which influenced later designs.

Neanderthals invented the lissoir: a bone tool used to work animal hides, making them softer, tougher, and more waterproof. In making lissoirs, dear ribs were chosen for their flexibility. A selfsame tool, called a slicker, is used to work leather today. Bone tool technology was learned by Cro-Magnons from Neanderthals.

Besides catching small animals, Neanderthals adapted to ambush-style hunting of big game, such as the woolly rhinoceroses that roamed north-central Europe during cold times. Neanderthal started the slaughter that would leave the continent bereft of large fauna.

Neanderthals were not warriors. There is no trace of warlike conflict among them. This is a most significant distinction between Neanderthals and nascent modern men.