Archive for March 10th, 2008

Neanderthal stash under the North Sea

Monday, March 10th, 2008

Back 50,000-100,000 years or so ago, when the ice caps had slurped up enough of the oceans to make dry land out of what is now the North Sea, Neanderthals frolicked in a state nature, eating berries and drinking dew drops.

Or else they eked out a living using dozens of flint axes to butcher mammoth.

Academic interest in what are being described as drowned Stone Age hunting grounds is likely to increase dramatically after the discovery of 28 Neanderthal flint axes on the sea bed off the East Anglian coast.

Dating from at least 50,000-60,000 years ago, they were found with other flint artefacts, a large number of mammoth bones, teeth and tusk fragments, and pieces of deer antler. The sea bed location was probably a Neanderthal hunters’ kill site or temporary camp site.

The axes – one of the largest groups ever found – were spotted by a keen-eyed amateur archaeologist when a consignment of North Sea gravel arrived at the Dutch port of Flushing.

Go keen-eyed amateur, go! Hanson, the dredging company, has stopped its activities on the location to give the pros a chance to assess the site.

The possibilities are very exciting indeed. The cold water is an excellent preserver of materials that on land decay or naturally erode or are destroyed by subsequent inhabitants.

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