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Enthalpy

Neanderthals Built a Water Reservoir

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Human construction 175,000 years ago in Europe, that is, from Neanderthals...

 

http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/05/25/ciencia/1464175777_166364.html

 

300m away from the entrance of a cave in Bruniquel, France, a wide circle seems to be man-made of broken stalactites and stones. Which changes much knowledge:

  • The oldest constructions known to us were 100,000 years younger
  • They were made by Sapiens Sapiens, never by Neanderthalensis
  • Neanderthals were not known to go deep in caves

Of course and obviously, the authors tell "symbolic or ritual use" as usual. An excellent way to avoid contradiction.

Well, I do take the risk of proposing a use.

It was a reservoir of drinking water.

  • Drinking water did rain from the roof, as it built stalactites - hopefully at that time too.
  • Water is the one wealth for which I'd walk 2*300m and build an artefact.
  • The broken stalactites and stones built a basin, together with mud presently lost to erosion.
  • From a drop every minute you can't drink, but with a basin you can collect water from several stalactites and over more time.
  • This source was fully reliable. Possibly available at every season, not shared with animals, not exposed to damage. Fabulous.

Interpretations without human intervention suggest items fallen on the ground, possibly because of an earthquake, and pushed to a circle by a stronger stream at some time. Well, I feel it easy to check: look if the stalactites on the ground are missing from the roof at that place.

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

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I have better news for you.

Bonobo builds a fire and toasts marshmallow

 

 

 

The oldest constructions known to us were 100,000 years younger

The problem with "constructions" is that they are typically made of material easy to process.

Animals use wood, early humans also used wood.

And nothing remained to our time.

Beavers are building dam from wood.

If they would extinct, prior human, nobody now would believe that they could build dams..

Edited by Sensei

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From one of the links

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature18291_F1.html

There are traces of fire on the structure so your hypothesis is moot, you don't burn fire on a reservoir.

 

OTOH yes it looks like an artificial structure. However one must take into count that it is not an easy task to plant vertical pieces of stone into the stone ground of a cave. As mentionned in the article, these are stalagmites (the ones that go from down to up) and not pieces of stalactites cut from the ceiling and planted in the floor. If I understand correctly. So to me it looks like existing vertical stalagmites artificially connected by horizontal pieces of stalagmites (or stalactites).


Also found this from http://www.liberation.fr/futurs/1996/03/12/mais-qui-s-est-arrete-a-bruniquel_166068

Pourtant, le paléospéléologue l'avoue, la fameuse structure de Bruniquel ne ressemble pas à un coup de nos Cro-Magnon de Cosquer ou Lascaux. «Ils respectaient les cavités. Ils peignaient, gravaient mais perturbaient le moins possible leur environnement. L'interventionnisme des hommes de Bruniquel ne colle pas avec nos repères.» Et ce n'est pas tout : lorsque les Cro-Magnon s'installaient dans une grotte, ils restaient le plus souvent dans l'antichambre, à la limite du jour. Or les hommes de Bruniquel sont allés dans le noir total. «Pour l'instant, tout ce que je sais c'est qu'il y a plus de 47 600 ans, des gars sont déjà dans la grotte pour y faire quelque chose», avoue François Rouzaud. Par pur plaisir ? Pour s'y adonner à quelque culte mystérieux, un culte de l'ours par exemple ? Pour déjà faire de l'art ? La réponse pourrait être plus terre à terre : les hommes de Bruniquel ont peut-être tout simplement cherché à bivouaquer en paix.
En Russie, en Ukraine et en Moldavie, des structures (de 45 000 ans environ) ­ mais à l'air libre ­ évoquent celle de Bruniquel. Là-bas, on a retrouvé des assemblages d'os de mammouths, dessinant aussi un quadrilatère, avec, au milieu, deux petits tas : des cale-poteaux. Le tout étant destiné à dresser une toile de tente, une peau de bête. «Ce qui est troublant, c'est que la masse de nos concrétions est équivalente à celle des os de mammouths», dit François Rouzaud. Mais quelle idée de se monter une tente dans une grotte ? En ce temps-là, il faisait plus froid et peut-être l'homme de Bruniquel a-t-il cherché à se faire un petit chez soi, facile à chauffer. «On peut aussi imaginer qu'ils ont cherché à améliorer l'éclairage, la tente jouant le rôle d'un abat-jour... Plutôt un comportement de Cro-Magnon.»


Google translation

Yet the paléospéléologue admit, the famous structure Bruniquel does not look like a stroke of our Cro-Magnon Cosquer or Lascaux. "They respected the cavities. They painted, engraved but disturbed as little as possible their environment. Interventionism men Bruniquel does not fit with our benchmarks "And that's not all. When the Cro-Magnon man settled in a cave, they remained mostly in the antechamber to the limit of the day . For men Bruniquel went into total darkness. "For now, all I know is that there are more than 47 600 years, the guys are already into the cave to do something," says François Rouzaud. For fun? To get indulge in some mysterious cult, a cult of such bear? For already making art? The answer could be more down to earth: men Bruniquel may have simply sought to bivouac in peace.

Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, structures (about 45 000 years) but outdoors evoke that of Bruniquel. There, they found the bones of mammoths assemblies, also drawing a rectangle with in the middle two small piles: Bilge-posts. Everything is designed to make a tent, an animal's skin. "What is disturbing is that the mass of our concretions is equivalent to that of mammoth bones," says François Rouzaud. What an idea to set up a tent in a cave? In that time, it was colder and perhaps the man of Bruniquel has he sought to make a little home, easy to heat. "We can also imagine that they sought to improve lighting, tent acting as a lampshade ... Rather behavior Cro-Magnon."

Edited by michel123456

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. As mentionned in the article, these are stalagmites (the ones that go from down to up) and not pieces of stalactites cut from the ceiling and planted in the floor

The mnemonic I use to remember which is which: Mites grow up and tights come down.

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After reading from here and there I realized the discovery is from 1992. The new dating is the new thing: is indicates it is not a Cro-magnon structure but a Neanderthal.

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Yes: comparing the Sapiens Sapiens' activity 45,000y ago with Neanderthals' 176,500y ago brings little, and the stalagmites as their are arranged obviously didn't serve to support a tent.

 

The orange spots on the nice picture you linked show spots that have been hot. Only the red spot is charred. I suggest that the processing of the stalagmites, especially cutting them, involved heat as a means or a consequence. These stalagmites are 10-20cm diameter stones, so breaking or cutting them needs some doing.

 

A camp fire would not have been made on the stalagmites, and the effect of heat would be observable on the ground too. 20cm spots are also small for a camp fire. By any means, the stalagmites and bones were heated before being assembled.

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That Bonobo in the first video leaves his matches right next to the fire! Has no one taught him anything about health and safety!?!

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That Bonobo in the first video leaves his matches right next to the fire! Has no one taught him anything about health and safety!?!

They like to learn empirically.

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Referring to the images and drawings, index there

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature18291_ft.html

 

At least now, the construction is at a lower area full of water. This is where I would not settle my camp.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature18291_SF2.html

 

But the limits of the main construction follow the line of constant altitude rather than a circular or oval shape. Constant altitude makes sense for a reservoir, while a smooth shape is preferred for a tent or a camp. Or possibly, the bottom became flat over a long time when the construction retained water that left sediments.

 

On the magnetic map, the anomalies correspond to the highest artefacts (beware the maps have varied orientations).

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature18291_SF5.html

If, as I've seen done in archaeology, the map was acquired by moving the sensor at constant height, the locations of strong anomaly can just result from the artefacts being nearer to the sensor. In both directions of the map, the field gradient increases over 30cm and decreases as quickly, which would fit with a mean sensor altitude of 1m. So maybe the height explains the map, needing no modification in the material. Err, it's very presumptuous to suggest that from an armchair, apologies.

 

One fascinating hypothesis relating fire with a reservoir: mud isn't stable over time in water, so the guys (or the girls) put ceramic instead over the stalagmite structure and fired it in situ. If any necesary, this would explain why the stalagmites are magnetically modified at the highest points: the ceramic was thinner there. The small little difficulty is that the oldest ceramic we know dates 29,000-25,000 BP

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Doln%C3%AD_V%C4%9Bstonice

corresponding to Sapiens Sapiens era, but, well, you know.

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The stalagmite parts assembled during the construction look more orange or brown than the others. This is attributed to transformation by fire up to now. But could it be that clay or a similar material, that made the hypothetic reservoir watertight, incorporated to the old or new calcite over time? Analysis would tell that.

Edited by Enthalpy

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Here's an estimate of the calcite accumulation rate. Speleologists must have better, directly observed figures.

Due to vegetation, groundwater can contain much more carbon dioxide than rainwater: 3mmol/L, according to
Carbon Dioxide Equilibria and Their Applications, By James N. Butler.
This groundwater can dissolve as many 3mmol/L of CaCO3 as bicarbonate and release them as calcite, or 0.3g/L.

A reservoir accumulating water drops at 2L/h (100 drops/s from many stalagtites, enough for 20 people) over 20m2 would accumulate calcite (2711kg/m3) at 0.1mm/year if it were uniform - should be more where the drops fall and less at the walls.

Walls reinforced with stalagmites and covered with unfired clay need frequent maintenance, so at that rate, calcite wouldn't have accumulated on the walls. But over 20 years, some 2mm calcite may have accumulated at the basin's bottom, with a distribution that hopefully differs from water flowing away. If finding the right calcite layer, this would be an indication for a basin. Layers of calcite depend on each year and their stacking tells a date.

I feel easier to check first the composition of the construction stalagmites' surface, which has a different colour. Does this result from fire? Or rather, did some mud, for instance walls' clay, diffuse into the calcite? The bingo would be if the diffused mud has a composition not found nearby in the cave, that is, if the humans have brought clay for their construction.

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I really doubt the water reservoir idea.

It's far easier to dig a water trap, than to make one with raised walls. And it will work much better, and need no sealing.

And if you did want to build a dam, you wouldn't build it circular, you would pick a spot, and build it across a depression.

Even beavers worked that one out.

 

Maybe it's a playpen for very young children. Otherwise, I would guess it's for rituals.

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The mnemonic I use to remember which is which: Mites grow up and tights come down.

I just imagined that one of them needs to "stick tight" to the ceiling. I never worried about a mnemonic for stalagmites. If you knew which of one of them was the "tite", you knew the other was the "mite".

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I just imagined that one of them needs to "stick tight" to the ceiling. I never worried about a mnemonic for stalagmites. If you knew which of one of them was the "tite", you knew the other was the "mite".

One stalagmite mnemonic is 'it might reach the ceiling'.

The stalagmite parts assembled during the construction look more orange or brown than the others. This is attributed to transformation by fire up to now. But could it be that clay or a similar material, that made the hypothetic reservoir watertight, incorporated to the old or new calcite over time? Analysis would tell that.

The color changes when deposition stops and/or when the material dries. Even broken pieces can continue to grow if they are being dripped on.

Edited by Acme

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post-88603-0-05063100-1485721772_thumb.jpg

 

Why must we conclude that if this was a Neanderthal construct, or for that matter, built by any others, that it must have been a successful design? The more recent human history (you know, the one we have record of) shows a vast array of trial and error as modus operandi. Why would we assume the Neanderthal would operate any different?

 

That image to me shows a campsite far enough within a cave to ward off the deepest cold of that glacial period. They constructed a campfire to stay warm and slept and ate near their fires. Past experience in other campsites inside and outside of caves showed them that naturally positioned rocks at an appreciable distance around the fire became warmer due to the fire and made occupying, and more importantly, sleeping in the area more enjoyable.

 

This would likely lead them to build such a structure you see in the image. The height is just enough to block the draft that comes in the cave entrance and travels along the floor where they would have lain to sleep. The materials would radiate the expected heat that the other campsite rocks had done in the past while the clay or dirt compacted against it would block that cold air that is drawn inward along the floor by the fire and keep it from going through the openings between the materials of the constructed wall.

 

All was done and worked well until the water started to build up behind the wall, as can be seen in the image.

 

Alas, success meets with failure once again.

Edited by arc

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A simpler upper bound on the mean deposition rate of calcite:
On the pictures, we see less than 175mm calcite added on the construction over 175,000 years. That would be mean <1µm/year between the construction and present time.

The rate varied over this time, and is faster at the stalactites.

This tiny deposition rate re-opens the remote possibility of terracotta walls. Would have worked better than raw clay, and would explain the traces of fire if necessary - but the oldest known terracotta is 150,000 years younger, from the Sapiens Sapiens.

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At Bruniquel cave's artefact, the paper's authors recorded a strong magnetic gradient that excludes many origins.

The data is mapped on fig. 5 with explanations
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/nature18291_SF5.html (it was there)
they saw +-12nT/m at several places, up to +-24nT/m. I didn't see the measurement altitude and suppose it was 1m over the flat bottom, maybe 0.5m over the construction's peaks.

The apparatus takes the difference between two Geometrics G858 sensors
http://www.geometrics.com/geometrics-products/geometrics-magnetometers/g-858-magmapper/
which measure the total induction by caesium vapour cells and are stacked vertically with 0.22m separation, so "gradient" means the vertical gradient of the total induction.

----------

I compare with what a small magnetic dipole achieves: the strongest case is the polar component in the polar direction,
B = 2*10-7mR-3
where m is the magnetic moment in A*m2, B in Tesla, R in m
http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~acosta/phy2061/lectures/MagneticDipoles.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_dipole
grad(B) = 6*10-7mR-4 (put signs as you like)

24nT/m would need 2.5mA*m2 at 0.5m or 40mA*m2 at 1m - or half as much for 12nT/m.

We can already note that today's best permanent magnets of FeNdB provide 1100kA/m, so at 1m such a supermagnet would need to be 2mm3 big.

----------

The magnetic susceptibility X of the artefact's materials deform the geomagnetic field, but how much of which materials does it take?

At Bruniquel, the total geomagnetic induction is 46µT, tilted 58° from the horizontal
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/World_Magnetic_Field_2015.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:World_Magnetic_Inclination_2015.pdf
and the total geomagnetic field 37A/m.

I take everywhere SI conventions, where X is dimensionless and 1+X is the relative permeability µr:
Induction B (T) = (1+X)µ0H (H field in A/m) with µ0=4pi*10-7 by SI definition

A volume L*S of material with susceptibility X lets pass the same induction as vacuum if we add a current H*X*L around it and then the external distribution is the same as for vacuum. This current has a moment H*X*L*S proportional to the item's volume. And since the added current compensates the item's presence, the item has the same external effect as the added current without the item.

Yes, this can be done better. An algebraic solution exists for a sphere, and by packing spheres of varied radii, we can fill any shape. Put signs as you prefer. The added current depends rather on the reluctance which varies with 1/(1+X), so for big X at ferromagnets the computation differs.

Now, the far effect of a small dipole is proportional to the magnetic moment, so for any small distant shape with uniform susceptibility X, only the volume counts. The item acts by m (A/m) = H*X*V, and if the item isn't small, integrate this with varying distance.

If the item were magnetically soft iron, (0.1m)3 at 1m would make the observed 24nT/m. Wow!

----------

How much?

Let's take arbitrary 1dm3 of materials with X=10-5 at 1m. In the 37A/m geomagnetic field, it's equivalent to a dipole of moment m = 370nA*m2 that creates a gradient of 0.22pT/m.

For the materials expected at the artefact, some experimental X are:
http://www.irm.umn.edu/hg2m/hg2m_b/hg2m_b.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_susceptibility
-0,9*10-5 Water
-1,3*10-5 Calcite (CaCO3)
+2,7*10-4 Montmorillonite (clay)

  • I had suggested here on 31 May 2016, 09:59 pm that the mere height of the contruction could explain the magnetic perturbation. But even 20dm3 of calcite at 0.5m create only 0.07nT/m. Wrong!
  • The authors observed that calcite's X doubles after heating in a fire. But 1dm*6dm*6dm of heated calcite at 1m create insufficient 0.02nT/m.
  • Raw clay has a bigger X that varies much with the iron contents. Taking 27*10-5 for 1dm*6dm*6dm at 1m explains 0.2nT/m, still 100* too little.

Clay heated by fire has a stronger effect. From M. Kostadinova-Avramova and M. Kovacheva
https://academic.oup.com/gji/article/195/3/1534/622882 table 3
their most reactive sample, heated to 700°C and cooled in 50µT, has a susceptibility as above essentially, but also a permanent magnetization of 22A/m if I read properly, almost as strong as the geomagnetic field. 0.05m*0.2m*0.2m of this heated clay suffice to create 24nT/m at 1m. Or (50mm)3 at 0.5m.

----------

Maps of the gradient at different heights would let infer the altitude of the cause. It's an inverse problem, difficult to solve and with many solutions, needing some assumptions like "isolated small sources".

I'd be glad to know how much clay was available in this cave, and whether the artefact accumulates abnormally much of it.

And whether bare calcite from this site gets the observed colour from mere heating, or if it needs to absorb clay. R=50mm get hot to the centre in 2min only: are the stalagmites brown to the core? My gut feeling is that the colour is too uniform for a fire, I imagine a prolonged contact with clay more easily. Or could water drops bring the clay too?

Marc Schaefer, aka Enthalpy

Edited by Enthalpy

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I think a lot of people underestimate the intelligence of Neanderthals. I can't provide a reference, but the impression that I've accumulated over the years is that their intelligence levels would be pretty much on a par with people you meet today. Obviously, they didn't have a culture that involved significant building in stone, otherwise we would have evidence of it. I would love to know what kind of shelter they used. I think they were generally sedentary, with settlements around places that provided favourable hunting opportunities, in contrast to modern man, who were more mobile and tended to follow herds. 

It shouldn't really come as any surprise that Neanderthals should build a dam though. (if that's what it was).

They would have seen beavers doing the same thing on a daily basis, and it wouldn't take much brain power to copy a beaver. 

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Given the fact that the stalagmite structure was situate at a distance of 336 meters (1,102 feet) from the entrance of the cave, its intended purpose could very well have been a cistern.

 

Cave living by Neanderthals seemed to be the norm, especially during the brutal ice age winters, but establishing their living quarters 1,100 feet back in a cave would pose a horrendous problem of transporting a sufficient supply of wood for burning 24/7 for weeks at a stretch.

 

But a per se, in-house (in-cave) water cistern situate 1,100 feet back in their cave would be a “luxury” worth having during those aforesaid “brutal ice age winters” when most every water source outside the cave was either frozen solid or buried under snow and ice.

 

Iffen Neanderthals were smart enough to make stone axes and to be tool-making “flint nappers”, then surely they were smart enough to be cistern builders, whether it was inside of a cave or outside at the site of a natural spring.

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On 1/29/2017 at 10:21 PM, arc said:

Why must we conclude that if this was a Neanderthal construct, or for that matter, built by any others, that it must have been a successful design? The more recent human history (you know, the one we have record of) shows a vast array of trial and error as modus operandi. Why would we assume the Neanderthal would operate any different? [...]

Sure. Failed designs show much bigger examples at Olkiluoto, Flamanville, Tianshan and next Hinckley Point.

What I like less at explanations by failed attempts is that they offer so many variants that they can explain anything. Or if you prefer, they are not refutable. It does not mean that they are wrong, only that reasoning on them is virtually impossible.

On 1/29/2017 at 10:21 PM, arc said:

[...] That image to me shows a campsite far enough within a cave to ward off the deepest cold of that glacial period. They constructed a campfire to stay warm and slept and ate near their fires. [...]

This is a seducing interpretation, but it has some difficulties.

Why go so deep in the cave? 50m would suffice, they walked 300m from the entrance in a difficult terrain. That's dangerous and lengthy. For a safe water supply available only there, I'd do it. To sleep comfortably, I'd prefer a nearer location.

The artefact is (at least today) in a location low and inundated. That's where I would not put my camp.

The "walls" follow contours of constant altitude. Perfectly justified for a reservoir, while a camp wall would have straight walls where the terrain drops.

Traces interpreted as fire remnants are everywhere, including on the "walls", rather than at the centre.

15 hours ago, mistermack said:

I think a lot of people underestimate the intelligence of Neanderthals. [...] They would have seen beavers doing the same thing on a daily basis, and it wouldn't take much brain power to copy a beaver. 

Their skull volume exceeded our. But so does elephants' skull too. The surprise to archaeologists is that they had seen no construction by Neanderthals prior to this one.

And what is intelligence? Intelligence is specialized. My cat was intelligent to interact with humans and exploit us, but he never made something with an object, except if the object represented a prey. He wouldn't even carry an obstacle away from his bed.

9 hours ago, SamCogar said:

[...]  Cave living by Neanderthals seemed to be the norm, especially during the brutal ice age winters, but establishing their living quarters 1,100 feet back in a cave would pose a horrendous problem of transporting a sufficient supply of wood for burning 24/7 for weeks at a stretch. [...]

Bruniquel is the first time archaeologists find indications of Neanderthals going deep in caves.

175,000 BP was during a cold period, yes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age

Good point, the problem of wood transport.

===========================================================================

The human bones in Jebel Irhoud, presently attributed to Sapiens Sapiens, were dated to 300 000 BP in 2017, that is, after the paper about the artefact in Bruniquel.
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Djebel_Irhoud
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jebel_Irhoud

This half-opens the alternative possibility that Sapiens Sapiens made the artefact in 175 000 BP in Bruniquel.

  • No evidence exists of Sapiens Sapiens in Europe at that time.
  • From now-Morocco to now-France, humans would have needed to cross the Gibraltar straights (deep water during the ice age too).
  • But few years ago, archaeologists saw only Neanderthals in Morocco at that time. They may change their mind for Europe too.

So what's more difficult to accept: first evidence of Neanderthalensis making artefacts deep in caves, or first indication of Sapiens Sapiens in Europe at that time?

Please take with mistrust, as here I'm very far away from anything I imagine to understand.

Edited by Enthalpy

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2 hours ago, Enthalpy said:

This half-opens the alternative possibility that Sapiens Sapiens made the artefact in 175 000 BP in Bruniquel.

 

Iffen Sapiens sapiens emigrants traveled as far as Israel sometime between 200,000 and 180,000 YBP ……. then there is no reason to believe that they couldn‘t have migrated as far west as present day France by 175,000 YBP.

 

To wit:

 

Quote

 

Israeli fossils are the oldest modern humans ever found outside of Africa

 

The oldest human fossils ever found outside Africa suggest that Homo sapiens might have spread to the Arabian Peninsula around 180,000 years ago — much earlier than previously thought. The upper jaw and teeth, found in an Israeli cave and reported in Science on 25 January1, pre-date other human fossils from the same region by at least 50,000 years.

Source:  https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-01261-5

 

 

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3 hours ago, Enthalpy said:

Sure. Failed designs show much bigger examples at Olkiluoto, Flamanville, Tianshan and next Hinckley Point.

What I like less at explanations by failed attempts is that they offer so many variants that they can explain anything. Or if you prefer, they are not refutable. It does not mean that they are wrong, only that reasoning on them is virtually impossible.

This is a seducing interpretation, but it has some difficulties.

Why go so deep in the cave? 50m would suffice, they walked 300m from the entrance in a difficult terrain. That's dangerous and lengthy. For a safe water supply available only there, I'd do it. To sleep comfortably, I'd prefer a nearer location.

The artefact is (at least today) in a location low and inundated. That's where I would not put my camp.

The "walls" follow contours of constant altitude. Perfectly justified for a reservoir, while a camp wall would have straight walls where the terrain drops.

Traces interpreted as fire remnants are everywhere, including on the "walls", rather than at the centre.

Their skull volume exceeded our. But so does elephants' skull too. The surprise to archaeologists is that they had seen no construction by Neanderthals prior to this one.

And what is intelligence? Intelligence is specialized. My cat was intelligent to interact with humans and exploit us, but he never made something with an object, except if the object represented a prey. He wouldn't even carry an obstacle away from his bed.

Bruniquel is the first time archaeologists find indications of Neanderthals going deep in caves.

175,000 BP was during a cold period, yes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age

Good point, the problem of wood.

Yeah, I'm thinking water reservoir, to better retain/store water already seeping into the cave naturally.

Probably was some kind of long gone mortar at one point.

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5 hours ago, Enthalpy said:

Their skull volume exceeded our. But so does elephants' skull too. The surprise to archaeologists is that they had seen no construction by Neanderthals prior to this one.

The absolute mass of the brain isn't the indicator of intelligence. It's the RATIO of brain mass to body mass that is a guide to the intelligence of the animal. Our ratio is way more than that of elephants. It seems that body mass demands brain mass,  just to keep it functioning. 

The ratio of brain to body mass of a neanderthal was very close to our own. There is a slight difference in layout, modern humans having slightly more frontal lobe, neanderthals having a longer brain case. But the differences are extremely minor. 

I doubt if you can conclude much from the lack of construction evidence. That's a cultural thing, there are hunter-gatherer societies of modern man who leave no constructions, and if they used wood instead of stone, that would most likely leave no evidence. And the population size of neanderthals were surprisingly small, so that restricts the amount of evidence.

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17 minutes ago, mistermack said:

The absolute mass of the brain isn't the indicator of intelligence. It's the RATIO of brain mass to body mass that is a guide to the intelligence of the animal. Our ratio is way more than that of elephants. It seems that body mass demands brain mass,  just to keep it functioning. 

 

Ummm Mormyrids? 

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