Odysseus, who voyaged across the wine-dark seas of the Mediterranean in Homer's epic, may have had some astonishingly ancient forerunners. A decade ago, when excavators claimed to have found stone tools on the Greek island of Crete dating back at least 130,000 years, other archaeologists were stunned--and skeptical. But since then, at that site and others, researchers have quietly built up a convincing case for Stone Age seafarers--and for the even more remarkable possibility that they were Neandertals, the extinct cousins of modern humans.The finds strongly suggest that the urge to go to sea, and the cognitive and technological means to do so, predates modern humans, says Alan Simmons, an archaeologist at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas who gave an overview of recent finds at a meeting here last week of the Society for American Archaeology. "The orthodoxy until pretty recently was that you don't have seafarers until the early Bronze Age," adds archaeologist John Cherry of Brown University, an initial skeptic. "Now we are talking about seafaring Neandertals. It's a pretty stunning change."[. . .][R]ecent evidence from the Mediterranean suggests purposeful navigation. Archaeologists had long noted ancient-looking stone tools on several Mediterranean islands including Crete, which has been an island for more than 5 million years, but they were dismissed as oddities.Then in 2008 and 2009, Thomas Strasser of Providence College in Rhode Island co-led a Greek-U.S. team with archaeologist Curtis Runnels of Boston University and discovered hundreds of stone tools near the southern coastal village of Plakias. The picks, cleavers, scrapers, and bifaces were so plentiful that a one-off accidental stranding seems unlikely, Strasser says. The tools also offered a clue to the identity of the early seafarers: The artifacts resemble Acheulean tools developed more than a million years ago by H. erectus and used until about 130,000 years ago by Neandertals as well.Strasser argued that the tools may represent a sea-borne migration of Neandertals from the Near East to Europe. The team used a variety of techniques to date the soil around the tools to at least 130,000 years old, but they could not pinpoint a more exact date. And the stratigraphy at the site is unclear, raising questions about whether the artifacts are as old as the soil they were embedded in. So other archaeologists were skeptical.But the surprise discovery prompted researchers to scour the region for additional sites, an effort that is now bearing fruit. Possible Neandertal artifacts have turned up on a number of islands, including at Stelida on the island of Naxos. Naxos sits 250 kilometers north of Crete in the Aegean Sea; even during glacial times, when sea levels were lower, it was likely accessible only by watercraft.[Continues . . .]
I thought Neanderthals were not connected to the coasts and activities like fishing in general. I'm probably wrong though.
They also ate tortoises and even monk seals, suggesting that they might have hunted or at least scavenged marine mammals. They certainly ate shellfish in large quantities; many mussel shells have been found in the caves, indicating that the Neanderthals harvested them from the seashore and brought them back over a considerable distance, perhaps carrying them in bags made from animal skins.
I would speculate that once an intelligent species moved into a habitat that they would take advantage of any easily acquired food source. They may not have fished, not having the tools, but they might have eaten anything they could catch on the shore, which could include a lot of species that might not preserve traces very well.A typical temperate climate shore boasts a lot of easily accessible food, crabs, mussels, clams, other shellfish, small seabirds and their eggs. Some species of fish forage very close to shore and are surprisingly easy to catch with your hands, if you're quick.
Lol.Did Algis ever propose swimmy Neanderthals?
The main reason I didn't speculate much on fishing in Gibraltar is because fish bones weren't mentioned in the description of what was found in middens/hearths, and the only shellfish mentioned was mussels. I'd expect if mussel shells survived, so would other shellfish, but it's weird to think they'd only eat one kind of bivalve. I suppose it's possible the mussels were the most plentiful and would be brought back to camp, while the others may have been snack food you just ate on the shore. Mussels are really easy to collect as well, whereas the various clams generally need to be dug out of the sand/mud.The wiki article says they ate a lot of mammals, including large and small animals, and that they ate a huge number of rabbits. So they seem to have had abundant mammalian food sources and didn't need to get too invested in seafood.
It's a shame we never got to see any of their ice sculptures
Quote from: Heinz Hershold on May 02, 2018, 12:54:50 AMIt's a shame we never got to see any of their ice sculpturesI was going for a "liked them before it was cool" followup, but this one's better