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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Early Neanderthal constructions deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwestern France. 

Early Neanderthal constructions deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwestern 

Very little is known about Neanderthal cultures, particularly early 
ones. Other than lithic implements and exceptional bone tools, very 
few artefacts have been preserved. While those that do remain include 
red and black pigments and burial sites, these indications of 
modernity are extremely sparse and few have been precisely dated, thus 
greatly limiting our knowledge of these predecessors of modern 
humans5. Here we report the dating of annular constructions made of 
broken stalagmites found deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwest France. 
The regular geometry of the stalagmite circles, the arrangement of 
broken stalagmites and several traces of fire demonstrate the 
anthropogenic origin of these constructions. Uranium-series dating of 
stalagmite regrowths on the structures and on burnt bone, combined 
with the dating of stalagmite tips in the structures, give a reliable 
and replicated age of 176.5 thousand years (ą2.1 thousand years), 
making these edifices among the oldest known well-dated constructions 
made by humans. Their presence at 336 metres from the entrance of the 
cave indicates that humans from this period had already mastered the 
underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human 



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