A 35,000-Year-Old Piece Of Flint Reveals Neanderthals May Have Understood And Created Symbolic Art

Archaeologists have discovered deep grooves residing on a piece of flint known as the Kiik-Koba flake showing Neanderthals may have understood symbolism.

A new study suggests a piece of 35,000-year-old proves Neanderthals understood symbolic art.
Carol Francavilla / AP Images

Archaeologists have discovered deep grooves residing on a piece of flint known as the Kiik-Koba flake showing Neanderthals may have understood symbolism.

Archaeologists have discovered a beautiful and ancient piece of flint known as the Kiik-Koba flake upon which deep grooves were created by Neanderthals, suggesting that they may have fully understood and created their own symbolic art 35,000 years ago.

A research team from the University of Bordeaux, France has just published a paper that describes a set of intriguing and connected lines that were purposely carved into a chunk of flint, as Cosmos Magazine report.

While undoubtedly an exciting discovery for archaeologists, carvings of this nature have also been found in 27 different areas ranging from the Middle East to Europe, showing that Neanderthals once practiced their own unique type of art. Yet discovering the hidden meaning behind these ancient incisions has so far been quite difficult for archaeologists.

Some of these incisions are believed to have been made completely by accident, perhaps occurring while Neanderthals were butchering animals or cutting into other objects.

However, it is starkly apparent to archaeologists that many of these carvings, such as the one recently found on the 35,000-year-old piece of flint, were created intentionally and with a distinct purpose in mind.

The discovery of the newest flint flake clearly shows that Neanderthals extracted the piece of flint from a much larger source and then began their exploratory carvings afterward. Interestingly, the size of the flint is such that it could not have been used as a tool, being much too small to function properly when cutting into other objects.

Archaeologists are of the belief that while the carvings into the piece of flint were intentional, they were not just simply fun little sketches etched into the flake, but were created with a much more serious purpose in mind.

They note that both the angles and the connection of the lines on the flint flake were made through the painstaking process of using two sharply pointed objects with which the Neanderthals created their highly symbolic art.

The 35,000-year-old piece of flint is not believed to have been a tool that Neanderthals used to etch into as a method of counting either, given that many of the lines were found to have overlapped. This would have made it a fairly pointless exercise if it were simply used as a tool for counting, according to archaeologists.

Further, the Neanderthal artwork on this beautiful piece of flint can be added to a growing list of other items which archaeologists conclude could be “consistent with symbolic interpretations.”

The new study detailing the discovery of the 35,000-year-old piece of flint which archaeologists believe helps to prove their theory that Neanderthals were adept at creating symbolic art can be read in PLOS ONE.