Anthropologists discovered eagle's claw necklace made by the last Neanderthal populations in spain

Spanish anthropologists discovered a fragment of an eagle's claw necklace made by one of the last Neanderthal populations in a cave in north-eastern Catalonia. This discovery once again indicates the presence of a common culture among different groups of these ancient people.

Neanderthals of Cova Foradada bones.
Neanderthals of Cova Foradada

Study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Most likely, this is the last amulet ever made by Neanderthals. It seems that these ancient people used the claws of an eagle as some kind of symbolic objects, perhaps as pendants for their necklaces, since the Middle Paleolithic times. The first Cro-Magnons to enter Europe at that time could have borrowed this tradition from them.
said Antonio Rodrigues-Hidalgo of the University of Barcelona. His words are quoted by the university's press office.

For a long time, scientists believed that Neanderthals were noticeably inferior to Cro-Magnons and other early Homo sapiens in cultural development. 

Presumably, they could not speak, did not have culture, religion and even could not ignite fire. Excavations in recent years in Croatia, Israel and Spain show that these perceptions were wrong.

In particular, four years ago, archaeologists found in the Croatian cave Krapina necklaces from the claws of birds of prey, made by Neanderthals, and in the north of Spain, they later found several examples of "advanced" Neanderthal rock painting. 

In addition, they found that Cro-Magnon's neighbors collected stones, boiled therapeutic infusions, and drew abstract tattoos, and also had quite complex funeral rituals.

Such discoveries, as Rodriguez-Hidalgo notes, raised a new question for scientists - whether Neanderthals passed their cultural traditions from generation to generation, how long their culture existed and whether its traces in the history of mankind have been preserved. 

The ability to preserve and improve cultural traditions used to be considered a hallmark of Homo sapiens, which is not inherent to all other members of our family.

Centuries-old traditions of Neanderthals

Spanish anthropologists have received some answers to all these questions by digging in the cave of Foradada, located in the north-east of Catalonia. Scientists believe that the area around it was home to some of the last Neanderthals. Their populations died out about 40 thousand years ago, after the first Homo sapiens penetrated Europe.

At that time, according to the authors of the article, Foradada served as a temporary shelter and a camp for hunters who used it to keep their prey fresh, fix weapons and tools for work and rest. 

This is evidenced by the fact that there are almost no traces of Neanderthal "civilization" in the soil deposits at the bottom of the cave, but there are fragments of tools, as well as many bones of animals and birds with traces of knives and other tools.

While studying and cataloguing these bones, scientists came across an unusual find, knuckles and claws in the Spanish burial ground (Aquila adalberti) - a large bird from the family of hawks, hunting rabbits and other rodents. 

These birds of prey rarely come into contact with humans, and were unlikely to be of interest to Neanderthals from a culinary point of view.

Their interest, as scientists assume, in this case was due to some cultural or religious motives. The fact that Rodriguez-Hidalgo and his colleagues found traces of 12 cuts on this knuckle at the same distance and angle speaks in favor of it. 

Anthropologists believe that they appeared on the eagle's finger after an ancient hunter tried to separate the claw from the bird's body.

There were no other marks on the bones, including human teeth, fire or cooking. According to scientists, this suggests that the Neanderthal separated the claw from the paw of the bird, not to make it more convenient to eat, but to make a necklace, amulet or other object of important religious or cultural significance.

All other fragments of Neanderthal necklaces made of bird claws from the genus Aquila, as noted by Rodriguez-Hidalgo, were found in Croatia and France in the camps of Neanderthals, who lived in Europe 50-60 thousand years earlier than their Spanish tribesmen. 

The fact that they were made in a similar way and the choice of the same material suggests that among these ancient people there were long-lived cultural traditions, which spread throughout Europe for many tens of thousands of years, the authors of the article summed up.