Team finds mysterious cave circles were made by Neanderthals

About 176,500 years ago, Neanderthals created a pair of stone rings far within a cave (located in France) from stalagmites cut to similar heights ranging up to 16-inches. Why? No one knows. However, the discovery — which was made back in 1990 — was recently the subject of a study that found the structures date back to a time when Neanderthals would have made them. This further underscores reshaped notions of how intelligent Neanderthals were, and reveals a big mystery surrounding a possible ritual site.

The rings were recently dated by University of Bordeaux archaeologist Jacques Jaubert and a team of fellow researchers. The group found that the stalagmites were snapped from the ground more than one hundred thousand years ago, and such a date sheds light on the humans that lived in the region at the time.

According to the study, which was published today in Nature, the humans around at that time had "mastered the underground environment," as the rings are located about 368 yards from the cave's entrance. Going so far into the cave would have taken time and planning, not to mention the effort required to collect the materials and construct the rings.

The revelation also poses a big question: why did the Neanderthals wander so far into the caves, and why did they go to such efforts to create seemingly pointless rings? In a statement, Jaubert said, "These are exceptional tours, certainly for extraordinary reasons we do not yet know." Some researchers speculate they could have been a social gathering spot for some sort of long-lost ritual.

SOURCE: Phys.Org

Image via Reuters