It seems Neanderthal man was not such a dullard after all according to the latest excavations at a 40,000 year-old site in south-west France.
They have revealed bone tools used to work leather that, when shown to experts at luxury goods maker Hermes in Paris, were instantly recognised as lissoirs, slickers and burnishers. Their modern-day equivalents have hardly changed.
“It’s a new confirmation that Neanderthals’ abilities and technical capacities were high, and that was certainly not because of technical disabilities that the Neanderthals disappeared,” says Professor of Prehistory at Leiden University Marie Soressi.
These are not the first Neanderthal bone tools ever found. Others have copied stone tools, but these indicate they exploited the natural properties of bone and were designed with the specific task of working skins, hardly the approach of an unsophisticated savage.