Neanderthals Hunted with Leaf-Shaped Spears, Says Archaeologists

Archaeologists have found a 65,000 years old leaf point in a cave in the Swabian Jura, Germany.

As the first leaf point to be recovered from a modern dig, Professor Nicholas Conard of the University of Tübingen and the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment remarked, “This finding allows us to analyse the fresh find with state-of-the-art technologies.”

Such items were last found in 1936 by archaeologists in the area.

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Germany’s Hohle Fels cave was the place where the leaf point was discovered.

7.6 cm (3 inches) in length, 4.1 cm (1.6 inches) in width, and 0.9 cm (0.35 inches) in thickness, and it weighs 28 grammes.

In professor Conard words, “our results record how the tool was developed, how it was used, and why it was dumped.”

With four ESR dates, the item is reliably dated to 65,000 years ago.

The leaf point discoveries had previously been considered as belonging to the Neanderthal cultural era that spanned 45,000 to 55,000 years ago in Central Europe, he said.

As a result of the new discoveries, “our ideas about dating the Neanderthal cultural groupings were incorrect and should be revised.”

These studies revealed that the leaf tip was attached to a wooden shaft.

In addition, “damage to the spear’s tip shows that it was pushed into prey rather than thrown,” they added.

To connect the leaf point to the spear, Neanderthals employed plant-based glue and bindings made from plant fibres, sinew, or leather.

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“The spear was definitely employed for hunting purposes. After resharpening the tool, it broke and was discarded.

According to Dr. Veerle Rots, a researcher at the University of Liège, “Neanderthals were adept stone knappers who knew how to create and employ sophisticated technologies that combined various components and materials to produce and maintain lethal weapons.”

Hunting spears made of sharpened wood were also employed by Homo heidelbergensis, although they were devoid of mounted stone points, as were those of Neanderthals.”

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