Archaeologists have unearthed a massive 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flint workshop in Pietraszyno, Poland which is so far the largest of its kind that has ever been discovered outside of a cave in Central Europe. While estimates will no doubt continue to shoot up, archaeologists have so far recovered a whopping 17,000 stone products that were once created and used by Neanderthals here.
As Science in Poland reports, Dr. Andrzej Wiśniewski from the Institute of Archaeology, University of Wrocław, explained, "On the bank of the river in Pietraszyno, we discovered an unprecedented amount of flint products - 17,000 - abandoned by Neanderthals approximately 60,000 years ago."
For the past year, Dr. Wiśniewski has been working with scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig to learn more about this Neanderthal workshop in Poland. This research is crucial to our understanding of Neanderthals as up until very recently it was believed that they only began working with large numbers of flint tools much later and between 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Contrary to this belief, as Dr. Wiśniewski noted, "This was proof of a more systematic and regular operation in a given area."
Scientists have also suggested in the past that Neanderthals were not particularly prone to staying in one location for very long, and the vast majority of their tools which have been found have been unearthed in various locations rather than all in one place, like this flint workshop.Dr. Wiśniewski has stated that contrary to the previous beliefs that Neanderthals mainly performed tasks in wide open areas, this 60,000-year-old workshop has proven that Neanderthals did stay in one place for extended periods of time, as evidenced by the large number of animal bones which were also recovered from the site.
"The finds from Pietraszyno completely contradict the old vision of the use of open areas by Neanderthals. It appears that in this place a community was present over a longer period, as evidenced by the large number of discovered objects. In addition, there are also preserved remains of mammoth, rhinoceros and horse bones"After a thorough study of the grounds of the workshop, archaeologists investigating this site discovered the precise location where different stone tools were fashioned. For instance, after Neanderthal had made hand axes and knives, there was discovered to have been a large amount of flint waste that had been left behind here. During their excavations, archaeologists also accurately discovered the entire process of how Neanderthals made their stone tools, from start to finish.
Interestingly, after counting stray pieces of flint that were found, archaeologists came to the conclusion that not all of the tools that were expected to be here actually were, and concluded that Neanderthals must have carried off many of their new instruments after making them so that they could be used elsewhere.
After excavating the 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flint workshop in Poland, Dr. Wiśniewski believes now more than ever that the social structure of Neanderthals was "similar to that of anatomically modern men," especially with the newest findings suggesting that Neanderthals were artistic, buried their dead, built fires and had a much more varied diet than originally believed.