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article imageNeanderthals built homes from mammoth bones, new study says

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 19, 2011 in Science
Moldova - Researchers have discovered a 44,000-year-old Neanderthal house in eastern Ukraine. The house is made from mammoth bones. This finding contradicts the widely held view that Neanderthals were primitive nomads who took shelter in the nearest cave.
The Telegraph reports that the bone house found in Moldova, decorated elaborately with carvings and pigments, was up to 26 feet across at the widest point.
The new finding, details of which will be published in the scientific journal Quaternary International, is now the earliest known example of a home built by humans. Researchers at the Museum National d'Histories Naturelle, say it suggests that early Neanderthals were not entirely nomadic hunters. Laetitia Demay, an archaeologist and leader of the research team, told The Telegraph: "This mammoth bone structure could be described as the basement of a wooden cover or as a windscreen. Neanderthals purposely chose large bones of the largest available mammal, the woolly mammoth, to build a structure.The use of bones as building elements can be appreciated as anticipation of climatic variations. Under a cold climate in an open environment, the lack of wood led humans to use bones to build protections against the wind."
Daily Mail reports that the circular house was made up of 116 large mammoth bones including skulls, jaws, 14 tusks and leg bones. Researchers also found 25 hearths filled with ashes inside the house. This confirmed that the owners of the home were settled and used the house for a fairly long period of time.
The new findings suggest that Neanderthals were far more advanced that they have been thought to be and may have used language and communicated culture.
Experts believe that Neanderthals hunted and used the meat of Mammoths for food. Indeed, there is evidence that early humans liked mammoth meat so much that they hunted the mammoth to extinction in the Middle East.
The Telegraph reports that Simon Underdown, an expert in Neanderthals at the Oxford Brookes University, said: "It's another piece in the newly emerging Neanderthal jigsaw puzzle. Far from being the stupid cavemen of popular image it's becoming increasingly clear the Neanderthals were a highly sophisticated species of human. We can now add shelter building to the list of advanced behaviors that includes burying the dead, spoken language, cooking and wearing jewellery."
The oldest known remains of a building discovered are more than 500,000 years old. The house was built by the ancient human ancestor Homo erectus on a hillside outside Tokyo using wooden posts sunk into the ground.
More about Neanderthals, mammoth bones, Museum National d'Histories Naturelle
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