Skip to main content

TR Memescape

  • TalkRational: Graeco-Roman western linear reductionist systematized fragmented disconnected parts-oriented individualized culture.

Topic: Seagoing Neandertals? (Read 368 times) previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Seagoing Neandertals?
Intriguing idea, and not particularly outlandish.

"Neandertals, Stone Age people may have voyaged the Mediterranean" | Science

Quote
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 . . .]

Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #1
It seems odder to consider neanderthals a different species of hominid than to consider, say, a wolf a different species of dog. Welcome to the anthropocentric age I guess.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • Faid
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #2
I thought Neanderthals were not connected to the coasts and activities like fishing in general. I'm probably wrong though.
Who even made the rule that we cannot group ducks and fish together for the simple reason that they are both aquatic? If I want to group them that way and it serves my purpose then I can jolly well do it however I want to and it is still a nested hierarchy and you can't tell me that it's not.

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #3
I thought Neanderthals were not connected to the coasts and activities like fishing in general. I'm probably wrong though.


Gibraltar Neanderthals:

Quote
They also ate tortoises and even monk seals, suggesting that they might have hunted or at least scavenged marine mammals.[23] 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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neanderthals_in_Gibraltar#Lifestyle_of_the_Gibraltar_Neanderthals

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #4
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.

  • MSG
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #5
/Algis
braying among the ruins

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #6
Lol.

Did Algis ever propose swimmy Neanderthals?

  • Faid
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #7
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.
The main nutritional advantage of actually living on an island (especially a small one like Naxos) is harvesting marine life. I doubt they travelled there and then survived on collecting shellfish; It's likely they had some method of fishing (maybe nets?).

If they had a secure main source of food, then an island can provide other advantages- safety from enemy tribes, for example.
Who even made the rule that we cannot group ducks and fish together for the simple reason that they are both aquatic? If I want to group them that way and it serves my purpose then I can jolly well do it however I want to and it is still a nested hierarchy and you can't tell me that it's not.

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #8
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.

  • MSG
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #9
Lol.

Did Algis ever propose swimmy Neanderthals?
Of course he did.

The godfather of squishy ape theorists, Marc Verhaegen, postulated that Neanderthals used their large noses as snorkels; I am not making this up...
braying among the ruins

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #10
OMG LOL!

  • F X
  • The one and only
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #11
There is a lot of evidence that our ancestors evolved in and near water. It's one of those almost impossible questions to answer, with current technology.
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man."
― Mark Twain 🔭

  • Faid
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #12
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.
Yes, if other food sources are available, harvesting shellfish on the shore makes a great deal of sense. I can't see a population moving to a small island in the middle of the Aegean just for shellfish, though. Of course, there may be other options like collecting specific shells for ornaments and trade- Which raises even more interesting questions.
Who even made the rule that we cannot group ducks and fish together for the simple reason that they are both aquatic? If I want to group them that way and it serves my purpose then I can jolly well do it however I want to and it is still a nested hierarchy and you can't tell me that it's not.

  • el jefe
  • asleep till 2020 or 2024
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #13
it seems like such an easy possibility for someone to hop on a driftwood log and push off shore to go have fun floating on the water, that I assume humans have been doing it since before we were human.  I'm guessing nonhuman apes or even non-primates do it sometimes, even if we haven't caught them on camera.  ....  maybe an occasional group of humans living by the water somewhere makes a regular habit of it, because it's fun or gets them food.  they learn some basics like don't drown and sharks are not your friend.  maybe someone notices how helpful it is to use a tree branch to paddle or push off the bottom.  with 2 or 3 simple ideas that could be easily stumbled across rather than creatively imagined, you have people habitually engaging in a limited form of seafaring.

if the habit persists in a few communities, and someone actually applies some creativity, you can imagine big improvements with just 1 or 2 more ideas.  someone could lash a few logs together with rope or vines.  people might notice patterns in the tides or currents that are useful to know.

neanderthals don't seem to have been as creative as modern humans but they were still pretty creative.  I don't find it hard to imagine some community of them stumbling through these steps back before 100kya.  and because driftwood and vines would rot there would be no trace.  all that would be required would be for them to get to Crete would be an ability to cross a few miles of water at a time, because there's such a dense archipelago in the Aegean

Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #14
Why do you think they weren't as creative? They made art.
Love is like a magic penny
 if you hold it tight you won't have any
if you give it away you'll have so many
they'll be rolling all over the floor

  • el jefe
  • asleep till 2020 or 2024
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #15
yeah but have you seen it??  garbage, all of it

  • F X
  • The one and only
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #16
 The stuff from 110.000 years ago is pretty bad.  But wait till they find the 500,000 year old master work. 
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man."
― Mark Twain 🔭

  • Faid
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #17
I had always appreciated the artistic value of their pre-Ice Age work.
Who even made the rule that we cannot group ducks and fish together for the simple reason that they are both aquatic? If I want to group them that way and it serves my purpose then I can jolly well do it however I want to and it is still a nested hierarchy and you can't tell me that it's not.

Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #18
It's a shame we never got to see any of their ice sculptures
Balloons will set you free!

  • Faid
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #19
It's a shame we never got to see any of their ice sculptures
I was going for a "liked them before it was cool" followup, but this one's better
Who even made the rule that we cannot group ducks and fish together for the simple reason that they are both aquatic? If I want to group them that way and it serves my purpose then I can jolly well do it however I want to and it is still a nested hierarchy and you can't tell me that it's not.

  • RAFH
  • Have a life, already.
Re: Seagoing Neandertals?
Reply #20
It's a shame we never got to see any of their ice sculptures
I was going for a "liked them before it was cool" followup, but this one's better
Once those sculptures were no longer cool, they sort of melted away from the art scene.
Are we there yet?