Oldest known Neanderthal house found in Ukraine – made from woolly mammoth bones

Why do discoveries of ancient houses make me so happy? A 44,000 year old Neanderthal bone house has been found near Moldova in Eastern Ukraine. It’s a nearly circular structure made from woolly mammoth bone, and it’s 26 feet wide at its widest point – that’s pretty substantial, the same width as the little church I live in. The bone house is delicately decorated with carvings and ochre pigments. 25 hearths were unearthed inside, suggesting it was inhabited over a long period of time. Now it appears Neanderthals weren’t really the stupid “cavemen” we thought they were: evidence is growing that they cooked vegetables, buried their dead, produced jewelry and sophisticated tool sets, and probably had language. They ostensibly disappeared just 10,000 yeas after modern man arrived in Europe, but it seems likely that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred. More on that here.

The use of bone is likely due to its availability as well as to a scarcity of wood. There are no photographs of the dig site yet. By the way, the artist’s rendering above clearly shows a modern human, not a Neanderthal. Nice furs. Via the Telegraph and Digital Journal.

“Laëtitia Demay, an archaeologist who led the research, said: “It appears that Neanderthals were the oldest known humans who used mammoth bones to build a dwelling structure.

“This mammoth bone structure could be described as the basement of a wooden cover or as a windscreen.

“Neanderthals purposely chose large bones of the largest available mammal, the woolly mammoth, to build a structure.

“The mammoth bones have been deliberately selected – long and flat bones, tusks and connected vertebrae – and were circularly arranged.

“The use of bones as building elements can be appreciated as anticipation of climatic variations. Under a cold climate in an open environment, the lack of wood led humans to use bones to build protections against the wind.”

The bone structure … was constructed of 116 large bones including mammoth skulls, jaws, 14 tusks and leg bones.”

By the way, this is by no means the oldest hominid-built structure in the world. A simple wooden structure found outside Tokyo was built 500,000 years ago by Homo Erectus.

“It consists of what appear to be 10 post holes, forming two irregular pentagons which may be the remains of two huts. Thirty stone tools were also found scattered around the site.”

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4 Responses to “Oldest known Neanderthal house found in Ukraine – made from woolly mammoth bones”

  1. staceyranae Says:

    now adays we are “learning” how to simplifie our lives… when at one point thats just how it was… “simple” …

  2. ani B Says:

    I want to see pics of the church you live in. Sounds cute…

  3. LB Says:

    Hi Ani,
    There are shots of the church in a previous post here:
    http://blog.ounodesign.com/2009/03/26/so-you-think-youd-like-to-live-in-a-church/
    Lindsay

  4. MacKenzie Says:

    Shades of the Earth Childrens book series…by Jean Auel. I believe I saw a reference in one of the seven or so books in the series about this but never saw pics of it. Thank you for sharing!

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