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Two etched bone fragments dating back 100,000 years could be examples of art made by our ancient relatives, the Denisovans, experts suggest.
Unearthed from an archaeological site in north China, the engravings are too finely carved to be a product of butchering and appear to have been deliberately made.
Addition - Pigment - Purpose - Meaning - Lines
In addition, they have been coated in a red pigment to make them stand out, suggesting purpose and potentially a meaning to the etched, abstract lines.
If indeed made by Denisovans, the findings could prove that these ancient hominins, like the Neanderthals, were capable of art and symbolic thoughts.
Point - Endeavours - Province - Humans
At one point, such endeavours had been considered the sole province of modern humans.
The etched bones were found during a dig at the Lingjing archaeological site in China's Henan Province, where archaic hominins — believed likely to be Denisovans — lived between around 125,000–105,000 years ago.
Neanderthals - Europe - Asia - Denisovans - Hominin
Like the Neanderthals of Europe and west Asia, Denisovans split off from the hominin lineage that led to modern humans at some point in the last few million years.
Although the Denisovans are believed to have resided across a large portion of east Asia, few artefacts from their time have actually been unearthed in the region.
Markings - Palaeoanthropologist - Francesco - D'Errico - University
Analysing the mysterious markings, palaeoanthropologist Francesco d’Errico of the University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues found that the engravings had been carefully drawn with a sharp point.
'The microscopic analysis of the lines shows that they cannot be interpreted as marks of butchery, the alternative interpretation,' Dr d’Errico told New Scientist.
Lines - Bones - Ochre - Prominence
Furthermore, the lines on the bones had been rubbed with reddish ochre to improve their prominence.
This pigment is often found on prehistoric ornamentation from Europe and Africa.
'We - Lines - Bone - Ochre - Dr
'We need to explain why equidistant lines were deliberately engraved on a semi-fossil bone and covered with red ochre to highlight them,' added Dr d’Errico.
'The explanation that would be given...
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