Siberian cave reveals possibly world’s oldest needle

Archaeologists working in the Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains, around 160 kilometres South of the city of Barnaul, South-Central Russia, discovered a needle made roughly 50000 years ago. The cave is known for artefacts that indicate that all three human forms (Homo Sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans) have lived there one time or another.

The needle from Denisova Cave (by Russia 24, Vesti)
The needle from Denisova Cave (by Russia 24, Vesti)

The needle made of bone is 7 cm long and was used by the Denisovans, recently discovered subspecies of the hominin species, ancestors to modern Homo Sapiens. The needle is crafted from a bone of a large and so far unidentified bird. The archaeologists discovered that the tool had a hole for thread. The find is in such well condition it could still be usable, as the experts state.

Excavation at the cave (by The Siberian Times)
Excavation at the cave (by The Siberian Times)

The Denisovans, which were named after the cave, seem to be more sophisticated than previously believed. Other finds from the cave include well-polished jewellery (part of a bracelet) made of chlorite. The hole drilled in the bracelet suggests use of a high-rotation drill, which indicates that the Denisovans were more technologically advanced than Homo Sapiens or Neanderthals. There were other needles found in the cave but in upper, younger deposits. This new find was discovered in a layer with other Denisovan remains.

Bracelet found earlier in the cave (by The Siberian Times)
Bracelet found earlier in the cave (by The Siberian Times)

The cave has been occupied by humans for 282000 years. Denisovan remains date back up to 170000 years ago. The cave provides evidence for past human development. In 2008 a finger bone fragment of a juvenile female was discovered, believed to be 41000 years old. The genetic material proved to be different from Neanderthals and modern humans. In 2010 young adult’s upper molar analysis also confirmed difference of the genetic material and association with the Denisovans.

(by Siberian Times, Russia 24, Vesti)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *