The oldest wooden tools ever to have been discovered have been found on the Iberian Peninsula in Spain after having been deposited there 90,000 years ago by Neanderthals. In 2015, archaeological excavations in Basque Country on a site known as Aranbaltza revealed what archaeologists have called “very well preserved” wooden instruments.
Scientists used the luminescence method of dating to determine that these tools would have once been heavily used by Neanderthals, and discovered that one of the wooden instruments was created by using a yew tree trunk, according to the Daily Mail.
Neanderthals would have fashioned these 90,000-year-old tools by the fascinating method of using a stone to carve the trunk of the tree to create their instrument, after taking care to harden it by placing it in fire.
The tools would have been crucial to the lives of Neanderthals, with research showing that it would have been used for many different purposes such as the constant race to find food as well as to locate flint. They also would have been wonderful instruments to simply dig in the ground with and to make holes.
“Use-wear analysis revealed that it was used for digging in search of food, flint or simply to make holes in the ground.”
— ScienceDaily (@ScienceDaily) April 3, 2018
With Joseba Rios-Garaizar as the lead archaeologist working on the case of the Neanderthal tools, he has explained how very rare it is to come across wooden instruments of this age, especially given how fast wood normally degrades.
It is for this reason that archaeologists do so much work in this region of Spain, as Neanderthal tools such as these 90,000-year-old instruments would hold little chance of ever surviving in other areas. The Aranbaltza site, however, is the perfect place to hunt for Neanderthal treasures due to the fact that it contains so much waterlogged sediment.
Archaeologists are particulary keen to study this site as it is key to understanding more about how these Neanderthals were able to create the Chatelperronian culture and it has been deemed “an exceptional site to investigate Neanderthal evolution and behavioral variability.” The excavations in this region of Spain have also shown that Neanderthals would have resided in this area for up to 44,000 years.
The new study detailing the 90,000-year-old wooden tools that were crafted by Neanderthals has been published in PLOS ONE.