AN engraving which has been discovered in Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar provides the first evidence found in the world that Neanderthals were as sophisticated as humans. The engraving, which dates back over 40,000 years, bears a remarkable resemblance to the children’s game of noughts and crosses.
The geometric pattern was identified by a team of researchers, after uncovering the engraving beneath undisturbed sediments that have also yielded Neanderthal tools.
Unlike our childhood beliefs that Neanderthals were brutes who had few basic skills, this new evidence suggests that their intellectual abilities have most definitely been underestimated. Recent findings intimate that they intentionally buried their dead, consumed a varied diet, adorned themselves with feathers and painted their bodies with black and red pigments, although we are yet to find answers as to why they did these things, questioning whether it was a form of art or a way of camouflaging themselves from danger.
Archaeologists have yet to call the engraving a piece of art, but said it was the first “deliberate, non-functional abstract etching” on a cave wall by someone who was not a modern human.
Professor Clive Finlayson, the director of Gibraltar Museum said “It brings Neanderthals even closer to us. It talks of high cognitive mental capacities in Neanderthals which are equivalent to humans.”