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60,000-year-old Neanderthal ‘Swiss Army Knife’ found in Siberian cave

By The Siberian Times reporter
30 January 2020

Experiment shows multi-purpose tool can still be used for butchering: it highlights the skills of these extinct early humans.

'This thing for Neanderthals was like a Swiss Army knife for us now.' Picture: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of SBRAS

This week has seen the revelation from an international study that Neanderthals twice invaded cold Siberia, around 120,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Scientists have also unearthed the tools used by the early humans when they settled in the Altai Mountains. 

Professor Kseniya Kolobova, of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, suggested that the tool called by scientists ‘asymmetrical backed biface’ was the ancient equivalent of the famous modern Swiss Army knife.

Stone tools


Stone tool from the cave

It was a ‘multi-functional tool, which can cut whatever you like, (butcher) and process skin, or make other tools. Pictures: The Siberian Times

They were discovered among 90,000 stone artefacts at Chagyrskaya Cave.

'This thing for Neanderthals was like a Swiss Army knife for us now,' she said, holding the stone tool, which is made of chalcedonite

'We have a blunt end, so it is convenient to hold.’

Bone tools

Retouchers made of bones, which were use to sharpen stone tools. Picture: Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of SBRAS

Remarkably, scientists show that it is still usable after 60,000 years. 

'You can butcher for about an hour with this tool, as our experiment showed, until it blunts…

'Then they sharpened it again and again and again.’

Kseniya Kolobova shows the tool

Kseniya Kolobova shows how the bifacew could be used to make another tools. Picture: The Siberian Times

It was a ‘multi-functional tool, which can cut whatever you like, (butcher) and process skin, or make other tools.

'This is a Palaeolithic Swiss Army knife.’

Intriguing, too, is how small the world was in those times. 

Chagyrskaya cave GV


Excavations site


Excavations site

It was discovered among 90,000 stone artefacts at Chagyrskaya Cave. Pictures: Sergey Zelensky

Analysis of stone tools from Chagyrskaya Cave in the Altai Mountains shows striking similarities to those found at Sesselfelsgrotte in Germany , some 5,000 kilometres away. 

‘If we put our bifaces next to Europeans we do not see any differences, except the raw materials,’ she said.

‘European tools were made of flint, ours of chalcedony and jasper. 

'That is, they brought the tradition of making their tools through several thousand kilometres almost unchanged.’

The Neanderthals in their conquests of Siberia killed and ate bison to survive, say archeologists. 

Finds linked to these archaic humans show 'the cognitive abilities of the Neanderthals were wider than previously thought', said the professor.

Comments (3)

120,000 to 60,000 years ago, our DNA ancestors tools...amazing find, great article, thanks! They indeed were intelligent, and there are very credible scientists stating Neanderthals left evidence of early smelting, too...iron in fact, from red ochre/iron ore. Iron smelts at a lower temperature than Bronze. In fact, the famous "iron man" statue was discovered in the Altai region too!
Dave, Yokosuka, Japan
05/02/2020 17:32
9
0
All dating of ex-living organisms are not only unreliable, but rest on proven faked principles such as the layers of sedimentary rocks containing mineralized fossils (turning gradually into minerals instead of decaying) can be dated in millions of years for each layers, while knowing that those layers are deposited laterally (and in a very short time) in a large flood. The old ages are all resting on the faked principle that the World was never destroyed; if it was destroyed, as many evidences confirm it, it can only be less than 10 000 years ago, because it would have destroyed all the previous layers of sedimentary rocks.
Marc Veilleux, Ange Gardien, Canada
01/02/2020 01:10
5
19
If you were to change "modern human" to white, and "Neanderthal" to Black, it better explains how we tend to see and judge previous humans. I am not a trained scientist, however, I am an exhaustive reader of anthropology and I fail to see any difference between modern humans, Neanderthals and Denisovans. We carry their genes...they are part of us...perhaps they made us who we are. They were smart, inventive and lived difficult lives are over the world. Lets not forget they were here many many thousands of years longer than we have been around. Lets try to match their longevity. ,
Anne Albaugh, USA
31/01/2020 01:11
11
15
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