Lost home of last Neanderthals rediscovered
Washington: Natural Environment Research Council-funded scientists working in the Channel island of Jersey, have re-discovered a record of Neanderthal archaeology, thought to be long lost
The study reveals that a key archaeological site has preserved geological deposits which were thought to have been lost through excavation 100 years ago.
The discovery was made when the team undertook fieldwork to stabilise and investigate a portion of the La Cotte de St Brelade cave, on Jersey`s south eastern coastline.
A large portion of the site contains sediments dating to the last Ice Age, preserving 250,000 years of climate change and archaeological evidence.
The site, which has produced more Neanderthal stone tools than the rest of the British Isles put together, contains the only known late Neanderthal remains from North West Europe.
These offer archaeologists one of the most important records of Neanderthal behaviour available.
"In terms of the volume of sediment, archaeological richness and depth of time, there is nothing else like it known in the British Isles. Given that we thought these deposits had been removed entirely by previous researchers, finding that so much still remains is as exciting as discovering a new site," Dr Matt Pope of the Institute of Archaeology at University College London, who helped lead the research, said.
The team dated sediments at the site using a technique called Optically Stimulated Luminesce, which measures the last time sand grains were exposed to sunlight.
This was carried out at the Luminescence Dating Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art at Oxford University.
The results showed that part of the sequence of sediments dates between 100,000 and 47,000 years old, indicating that Neanderthal teeth which were discovered at the site in 1910 were younger than previously thought, and probably belonged to one of the last Neanderthals to live in the region.
The study is published in the Journal of Quaternary Science.
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