The remains of a necklace/bracelet made by Neanderthals have been discovered in Croatia. The details of the discovery were described in the latest issue of the journal PLOS ONE.
The artifacts ad to the growing body of evidence that the Neanderthals weren’t as savage as people imagine them to be and that they actually had a very rich culture with meaningful symbols long before we (Homo sapiens) came to Europe.
David Frayer, researcher at the University of Kansas, U.S. and lead author of the study called the discovery a stunning one. He goes on to say that the Neanderthal necklace/bracelet appeared out of the blue. He added that the discovery is unexpected because there is nothing like it in very recent times.
Bracelets and necklaces such as the Neanderthal one discovered in Croatia are still worn today by some traditional cultures. While the Neanderthal necklace/bracelet is made out of bird claws, the ones worn today are made out of different materials, such as wood or shells.
The jewelry is made out of the claws of white-tailed eagles, which bear various edge-smooth cut marks. The team of researchers studied the Neanderthal necklace/bracelet and determined it to be around 130,000 old. It appears polished and it was, most likely, worn around the neck or the wrist.
Sea eagles or white-tailed eagles are still around today. They are closely related to bald eagles and are large birds of prey.
The site where the jewelry was found in Croatia is called Krapina. Frayer and his colleagues believe that the claws of the eagles must have had a symbolic meaning to the Neanderthal men and women, but what that meaning was remains a mystery.
Not much is known about Neanderthals, unfortunately. Recent archeological findings have revealed that they buried their dead, which indicates that they were much more social that it was previously believed and that they did not lack symbolic ability. The Neanderthal jewelry could show that they must have felt pride when they displayed the claws on their bodies.
The white-tailed eagle is Germany’s national bird and it also appears on the country’s coat of arms.