Intriguing New Research Examines Unique Grooves Carved Into Bones 35,000 Years Ago In A Cave In Galilee

The special carvings found on reindeer bones may point to a cultural group that had a specific symbol that defined their clan.

34,000-year-old carvings in deer bones found in Galilee cave.
Oded Balilty / AP Images

The special carvings found on reindeer bones may point to a cultural group that had a specific symbol that defined their clan.

Deep in a cave in Galilee, archaeologists have discovered unique grooves on Levantine deer bones that date back from 35,000 to 38,000 years ago. Research suggests that an entirely new group of people may have taken leave of Europe during this time and settled in the Levant region, which would include the areas of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel.

The Jerusalem Post reports that the new study on these ancient reindeer carvings was conducted by Hebrew University’s Dr. Vitaly Gutkin, the French National Center for Scientific Research’s Dr. Jose-Miguel Tejero, the Archeology Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Professor Anna Belfer Cohen, and Dr. Rivka Rabinovich and Professor Ofer Bar-Yosef from Harvard University.

The carvings in the Levantine deer bones that were recovered from Hayonim Cave were located on one specific area of the bones, leading archaeologists to surmise that it is highly possible that these singular grooves helped to culturally identify this new group of people within Galilee and show them as a unique and separate entity from other groups that were also residing in the area at the time.

It is thought that this very specific symbol may have even been worn on clothing or jewelry for use as a distinct social marker.

As Dr. Rivka Rabinovic explained, upon closer inspection of the carved deer bones, it was readily apparent that the symbols that were discovered on them had been created for a definitive purpose.

“It was interesting to examine systematically the nature of these items which were created out of dissected animals and to note how different they are. Microscopic observations, as well as data obtained with the help of the scanning electron microscope, which has become an important tool in archeological research, made us aware of the uniqueness of the symbols.”

Archaeologists note that items recovered from other areas, including animal horns and other bone vessels, along with stone vessels, are strikingly similar in nature to the group that would have carved grooves into the Levantine deer bones.

They have determined that after these individuals left Europe and arrived in Galilee, their culture lasted for only a short period of time, although it is also highly plausible that in the end, they may have mixed with other groups, thus ending their own special and unique group as shown by the carved symbols on the deer bones.

Rabinovich stated that trying to determine the precise purpose of these carved deer bones is still a mystery to archaeologists, despite the underlying symbolism attached to them.

“Likewise, at the end of each observation like this, the question remains: What were these items really used for? This is the most fascinating part – trying to understand behavior not necessarily tied to survival.”

Archaeologists will undoubtedly continue working to try and solve the mystery of the strange symbols carved into the 35,000-year-old deer bones found in Galilee.