What may be the world’s oldest piece of string, made by Neanderthal humans from bark about 50,000 years ago, has been unearthed in a rock shelter in France.
It’s a tiny fragment — just over two-tenths of an inch long — but its discoverers say it shows Neanderthals had extensive knowledge of the trees it was made from, and enough practical ability to make a string that would hold fast under tension.
Analysis of the discovery was first released Thursday in the science journal Scientific Reports.
It’s the first time that a string or a cord attributed to Neanderthals has been found – and it suggests they used other ancient technologies that have since rotted away, from basketry to clothing to fishing gear.
It also suggests that Neanderthals – the archetypal crude cavemen – were smarter than some people give them credit for.
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