5 March 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Mandrin cave in France shows Homo Sapiens arrived in Europe almost 10,000 years earlier than thought

According to archaeological research published in Science magazine on Wednesday, Homo sapiens ventured into the Neanderthal territory in Europe far earlier than previously thought.

The new discovery, by a team of archaeologists and palaeoanthropologists led by Ludovic Slimak of Toulouse University, pushes back the arrival of Homo sapiens in Western Europe to around 54,000 years ago.

Until now, archaeological discoveries had shown that Neanderthals vanished from the European peninsula around 40,000 years ago, just 5,000 years after their “cousin” Homo sapiens arrived, and there was no evidence of an encounter between these two groups

This undated photo provided by Ludovic Slimak shows scientists working at the entrance of the Mandrin cave, near Montelimar, southern France. Photo: Ludovic Slimak
This undated photo provided by Ludovic Slimak shows scientists working at the entrance of the Mandrin cave, near Montelimar, southern France. Photo: Ludovic Slimak

In a paper published Wednesday by the journal Science Advances, researchers from Europe and the United States described finding fossilized homo sapiens remains and tools sandwiched between those of Neanderthals in the Mandrin Grotto.

The most striking finding of the study is that two human species live alternately in the Mandrin cave, now located in the Rhone region of southern France.

The Mandrin site, first excavated in 1990, includes layer upon layer of archaeological remains dating back over 80,000 years.

“Mandrin is like a kind of neandertalian Pompeii, without catastrophic events, but with a continuous filling of sands in the cave deposited progressively by a strong wind, the Mistral,” Slimak told AFP.

His team uncoevered a layer, known as the “E layer”, containing at least 1,500 cut flint points, more finely executed than the points and blades in the layers above and below.

Very small in size, some of them less than a centimeter in length, these points “are standardized, to the nearest millimeter, something we haven’t seen at all with Neanderthals,” said Slimak, a specialist in Neanderthal societies.

These, he explained, were probably arrowheads, unknown in Europe at that time. He attributes this production to a culture called Neronian, linked to several sites in the Rhone area.

Some of the manmade fossils discovered in the cave which led to the archaeological findings Ludovic Slimak Handout/AFP
Some of the manmade fossils discovered in the cave led to the archaeological findings Ludovic Slimak Handout/AFP

Milk tooth discovery

In 2016, Slimak and his team visited the Peabody Museum in Harvard to compare their discoveries with a collection of carved fossils from the Ksar Akil site at the foot of Mount Lebanon, one of the major sites of the expansion of Homo sapiens to the east of the Mediterranean.

The similarity between the techniques used convinced Slimak that the findings at the Mandrin site were the first traces of Home Sapiens found in Europe.

A milk tooth found in the “E layer” confirmed his suspicions.

In all researchers found nine teeth at the Mandrin cave site, belonging to six individuals. These ancient teeth were entrusted to Clement Zanolli, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of Bordeaux.

Using microtomography, similar to medical scanning technology, the verdict was clear. The milk tooth from the “E” layer” was the only modern human tooth found at the site.

That “fossil molar from a modern human child provides the earliest known evidence of modern humans in western Europe”, the Natural History Museum in London said in a statement.

While the researchers found no evidence of cultural exchanges between the Neanderthals and modern humans who alternated in the cave, the rapid succession of occupants is in itself significant, they said. In one case, the cave changed hands in the space of about a year, said Slimak.

Related Articles

Archaeologists discovered a Thracian tomb from the time of the Odrysian kingdom in southern Bulgaria

13 September 2023

13 September 2023

Archaeologists from the Haskovo Regional Museum of History discovered a third Thracian tomb with murals the likes of those in...

Anthropologists say humans have been using personal ornaments to communicate about themselves without the fuss of conversation – for millennia

24 September 2021

24 September 2021

Anthropologists believe that for millennia, individuals have used personal decorations to communicate about themselves without the hassle of dialogue. They...

Will the Siloam Inscription be returned to Israel?

12 March 2022

12 March 2022

During the visit of Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Turkey, the claim that he wanted the Siloam Inscription, one of...

5700-year-old monumental Menga Dolmen reveals it as one of the greatest feats of Neolithic engineering

6 December 2023

6 December 2023 1

A new investigation tracing the source of the gigantic stones that make up the Menga dolmen in southern Spain reveals...

Archaeologists find an Anglo-Saxon church at Stoke Mandeville excavation site

13 September 2021

13 September 2021

Archaeologists working on the HS2 project found the remains of an Anglo-Saxon church during their excavations at the former St...

73 intact Wari mummy bundles and Carved Masks Placed On False Heads Discovered In Peru

1 December 2023

1 December 2023

At Pachacámac, an archaeological site southeast of Lima in Peru, archaeologists unearthed bundles of 73 intact mummy bundles, some containing...

The ability to produce ceramic vessels came to Europe via Siberia and the Caspian Sea region

6 January 2023

6 January 2023

A new study suggests that the knowledge for making ceramic vessels came to Europe from the Middle East and the...

A cave painting found in Egyptian Sahara depicts a nativity scene 3,000 years before Jesus’ Birth

21 December 2023

21 December 2023

5,000-year-old rock art depicting the oldest nativity scene ever found has been found in Egypt’s Sahara Desert: A newborn between...

Neanderthals caused ecosystems to change 125,000 years ago

16 December 2021

16 December 2021

Researchers say Neanderthals changed the ecosystem by turning forests into grasslands 125,000 years ago. Around 125,000 years ago, these close...

Scientists find the oldest evidence of humans in Israel -a 1.5 million-year-old Human vertebra

3 February 2022

3 February 2022

An international group of Israeli and American researchers, an ancient human vertebra has been uncovered in Israel’s Jordan Valley that...

The excavations in Selinunte, Italy, which has the largest Agora in the Ancient World, “The results have gone well beyond expectations”

29 July 2022

29 July 2022

In the Selinunte, one of the most important archaeological sites of the Greek period in Italy, the outlines of the...

Portugal’s Enigmatic Roman Building “Tower of Centum Cellas”

4 February 2024

4 February 2024

The Tower of Centum Cellas (also known as the “Tower of St. Cornelius”), located in the Mount of Santo Antão...

Study Reveals Mysterious Avars Origin

1 April 2022

1 April 2022

Ruled much of Central and Eastern Europe for 250 years, the Avars were less well known than Attila’s Huns, but...

Archaeologists have uncovered the first human representations of the people of mythical Tartessos

19 April 2023

19 April 2023

Archaeologists representing Spain’s National Research Council (CSIS) excavating at the site of Casas del Turunuelo have uncovered the first human...

New fortifications unearthed in Porsuk Mound excavations

11 August 2021

11 August 2021

In the excavations of Porsuk Mound, which is an important Hittite settlement and where traces of settlement remains can be...