Nutmeg is a feel-good holiday spice found in cakes and cider, and even spiking our spinach, if we're lucky. But it once caused serious bloodshed and may have even been a reason the Dutch were willing to part with Manhattan back in the 1600s.
In Africa and western Eurasia, occurrences of burials and utilized ocher fragments during the late Middle and early Late Pleistocene are often considered evidence for the emergence of symbolically-mediated behavior. Perhaps less controversial for the study of human cognitive evolution are finds of marine shell beads and complex designs on organic and mineral artifacts in early modern human (EMH) assemblages conservatively dated to ≈100–60 kilo-years (ka) ago. Here we show that, in France, Neanderthals used skeletal parts of large diurnal raptors presumably for symbolic purposes at Combe-Grenal in a layer dated to marine isotope stage (MIS) 5b (≈90 ka) and at Les Fieux in stratigraphic units dated to the early/middle phase of MIS 3 (60–40 ka). The presence of similar objects in other Middle Paleolithic contexts in France and Italy suggest that raptors were used as means of symbolic expression by Neanderthals in these regions.
The finds that came to light during this year’s excavations at the hill of Aghia Petra, in Didymoteicho, which has been identified with the ancient Plotinopolis, a Roman city founded by the Roman Emperor Traianus, who named the town after his wife Plotini, are once again impressive.
The archaeological interest of the hill has been recognized as early as before World War II, while in 1965 a golden forged bust of Roman Emperor Septimius Severus was found there. In Aghia Petra, systematic excavations were conducted by the 19th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities in 1977 and the early 1980s.
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