About this Site
This excavation site is a rock shelter located in central France.
Fourteen distinct layers have accumulated in this cave over the millennia. You are excavating the eighth layer. Bone and antler ornaments found in this layer have been radiocarbon dated to 33,000 years ago.
You used your brush to expose seven bone fragments and two artifacts.
The partial skull you discovered is undoubtedly that of a Neanderthal. Note the large occipital bun (the protrusion at the back of the skull), the receding forehead, the prominent browridge, and the projecting midface. This is the first and only hominid skull found at this site.
You also found two stone tools alongside the skull fragments. Many other tools have also been found in this layer. Interestingly, the tools from this layer are more advanced than the tools previously associated with Neanderthals. They are similar to tools that, in previous excavations at other sites, had been found with presumably more intelligent early modern humans (Cro Magnons).
Based on your find, then, it appears we have evidence that Neanderthals were capable of creating and using more advanced tools and so must have had the intelligence to do so.
Neanderthals could have created the tools independent of moderns, but what if this Neanderthal used these tools but didn't know how to make them himself? Perhaps he learned the technique from a modern. Or perhaps he acquired the tools by trading with or stealing from moderns. This, then, would show only that the Neanderthal was at least intelligent enough to use the tools.
And here is another scenario, unlikely perhaps, but certainly not impossible: The Neanderthal was killed by moderns when he entered their cave. Perhaps the moderns even used the very tools you found to consume the Neanderthal.
The scenario presented in this section is based loosely on excavations that began in the late 1940s at a site called the Grotte du Renne, which is near Auzerre, France. At this site, many stone and bone tools and body ornaments were found along with a small skull fragment that was later determined to be Neanderthal.
If you haven't already done so, there is more digging and deducing to be done at Site 1 and Site 3.
Casts of Characters |
Into the Fray |
Tracing Ancestry with MtDNA |
Dig and Deduce
Teacher's Guide |
Site Map |
Neanderthals on Trial Home
Site Map |
Previously Featured |
Join Us/E-Mail |
About NOVA |
Editor's Picks |
Watch NOVAs online |
PBS Online |
NOVA Online |
© | Updated November 2001
Support provided by
For new content
visit the redesigned