170,000 years before Stonehenge, Neanderthals built their own incredible structure
Sarah Kaplan, May 26, 2016
|A 3D reconstruction of the structures in the Bruniquel Cave. (Xavier Muth - Get in Situ, Archéotransfert, Archéovision -SHS-3D, base photographique Pascal Mora).|
Hundreds of centuries ago, someone trudged into that foreboding darkness. Methodically, they broke apart hundreds of stalagmites and arranged the pieces in cryptic piles on the cave floor: two stone rings, one vast and one small, and several piles containing charred rock. They may have been holding a religious ceremony. Or perhaps they simply needed a place to cook away from the cave bears and the cold. The purpose of these structures remains an enigma.
But their creators are not. In a study in the journal Nature, scientists report that these strange stalagmite piles found in the south of France were formed roughly 176,000 years ago by Neanderthals.