Neanderthals Built Ancient Stone Rings in French Cave

Posted on May 25, 2016

Ancient Neanderthal stone ring in French cave

Ancient stone rings have been discovered deep inside the Bruniquel Cave in southwest France. The ring structures were made using hundreds of stalagmites. The stalagmites are estimated to have been broken off about 175,000 years ago. This predates the arrival of modern humans in Europe.

The researchers say the rings are located 336 meters from the entrance of the cave. They say this indicates that "humans from this period had already mastered the underground environment, which can be considered a major step in human modernity." It also indicates they would have need a light source (fire) to see so far back in the dark cave.

BBC News reports that study co-author Jacques Jaubert, from the University of Bordeaux, says they have ruled out the possibility the rings were formed by chance or were assembled by animals. He says the rings show traces of fire.

New Scientist reports that the stalagmite structures are about 50 centimeters high (1.6 feet) in places and were built from about 400 stalagmites with a total weight of about 2 tons. They have a ring that is about 7 meters (23 feet) in diameter.

A research paper on the ancient rings was published here in the journal, Nature. Here is a short video about the mysterious structures from New Scientist.

Photo: Etienne Fabre/SSAC

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