Structures in French Caves

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Structures in French Caves

Post by hope » 22 Nov 2017 22:49

Structures in French cave sheds new light on the Neanderthals.

Deep inside Bruniquel cave, in the Tarn Et Garonne region of southwestern France, a set of man-made structures
336 meters from the entrance was recently dated as being approximately 176,500 years
This discovery indicates that humans began occupying much earlier than previously thought: until now the oldest
proven cave use dated back only 38,000 years (Chauvet). It also ranks the Bruniquel structures among the very
first in human history. In addition, traces of fire show that the early Neanderthals, well before Homo sapiens,
knew how to use fire to circulate in enclosed spaces far from daylight.

The research, reported in 25 May 2016 issue of 'Nature' was conducted by an international team including Jacques
Jaubert from the University of Bordeaux, Sophie Verheyden from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science
(RBINS) and Dominique Genty of the CNRS, with logistical support from the Societe Speleo-Archeologique de
Caussade under president Michel Soulier and the backing of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Bruniquel Cave was discovered in 1990 on a site overlooking the Aveyron Valley. The team of speleologists in
charge of its management has kept the site in pristine condition, preserving its numerous natural formations
(an underground lake, calcite rafts, translucent, concretions of all types ..), intact floors containing numerous
bone remain and dozens of bear hibernation hollows with impressive claw marks. But most importantly, the cave
contains original structures made up of about 400 stalagmites or sections of stalagmite, gathered and arranged
in more or less circular formations.

These circles show signs of fire use: calcite reddened or blackened by soot and fractured by heat, as well as burnt
matter including bone remnants.
In 1995, a first team of speleologists and researchers used carbon 14 to date a burnt bone at 47,600 years ( the
oldest possible date using that technique), but no further dating was carried out at that time.

Since no other stalagmite structure of this scale has yet been discovered, the team developed a new concept to
designate these carefully arranged pieces of stalagmites: "speleofacts," An inventory of the cave's 400 speleofacts
reveals a total of 112 meters of stalagmites broken into well -calibrated pieces, weighing an estimated 2.2 metric
tons. The components of the structures are aligned, juxtaposed and superimposed (in two, three and even four
layers), with props around the outside, apparently to hold them in place, and filler pieces.
Marks left by the wrenching of stalagmites from the cave floor to make the structures have been identified nearby.

The Neanderthals made these structures by breaking stalagmites and rearranging the pieces. Ater the site was
abandoned, newer layers of calcite, including new stalagmite growth, formed on the man-made structures.
By dating the end of the growth of the stalagmites used in the structures and the beginning of the regrowth sealing,
the researchers have estimate the age of the installation at 176,500 + 2,000 years.

Additionally samples, in particular of the calcite covering a burnt bone, confirmed this surprising result.


Much more info; ... als/111554

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