MISE & Agrave; DAY
41,500 years old, discovered in Poland, it is the oldest pendant engraved with punctuation by a human hand in history and the only one precisely dated, thanks to a cutting-edge technique, reveals a study published Thursday. & nbsp;
Made from the ivory of a mammoth horn, burnished by time, the 4.5 cm high object fits in the hand. He still wears the small hole and part of the second one through which a tie passed to wear it around his neck. And above all a succession of at least 50 “punctuations”, tiny incisions made in harmonious curves, the exact meaning of which escapes paleontologists. & Nbsp;
The object, in two fragments, was discovered in Stajnia Cave, a natural shelter overlooking a valley in southern Poland. The place has already made the front page of paleontology journals with the discovery of Neanderthal molars, dating back more than 40,000 years.
The era was then rich in the production of ornamental objects, considered as manifestations of symbolic behavior. Particularly under the hand of Homo sapiens, freshly arrived on the Eurasian continent from Africa, but also under that of the Neanderthals, these “cousins” of modern man, who will soon disappear. & Nbsp;
The discovery of the pendant, which dates back to 2010, places it in the company of a handful of punctuated objects, discovered in France and the German Swabian Jura, but also in Russia and beyond the Arctic Circle.
Their dates ranging from around 30,000 to 40,000 years ago, at the time of the Aurignacian, give rise to “hotly debated” discussions as to whether this art originated in a specific place , and if so, where does the study in Scientific Reports note.
Cycle of the Moon?
Some claim that the Swabian Alb, with in particular a punctuated anthropomorphic statuette, is “the center where this technique was born and then spread in Europe”, told AFP Professor Sarah Talamo, director of the Carbon Dating Laboratory at the University of Bologna, and principal author of the study.
But, she adds, “we do not know anything, because we do not know the exact dates of these objects, of which the dating was obtained indirectly ”, by studying the environment where they were discovered. In other words, “without advanced techniques”.
On the other hand, and in collaboration with a team from the Max Planck Institute for Anthropological Evolution, the scientist was able to precisely determine the age of Stajnia's pendant, thanks to accelerator mass spectrometry. This advanced technique requires 200 to 1000 times less material than conventional carbon dating. In this case, it was enough to take a sample of only half a gram of the precious pendant to determine its age. & Nbsp;
As for precision, it is essential to “understand how this technique was able to spread” on the continent in the Aurignacian, continues the researcher. & Nbsp;
In particular considering the remarkable peculiarity shared by the pendant de Stajnia with another carved bone dated around 38,000 years old, the Blanchard plaque, named after a site in Dordogne, 2,000 km away: both bear a series of punctures, organized in a long loop and curve. & nbsp ;
A drawing interpreted as a game count, a numbering system or “strikingly resembling a lunar analemma”, as the study notes: a representation of the changing position of the star observed every day from the same place during the cycle of the Moon. & nbsp;
The challenge, according to the authors of the study, is therefore to review the dating of the other punctuated objects, and more broadly of “mobile art, to better understand the emergence of symbolic behavior and cognitio n modern in human evolution ”. & nbsp;