Neanderthal stone tool discovered at new dig site in Croatia
February 13, 2022 – An incredible discovery has been made in the Upper Barać Cave in Rakovica near the Plitvice Lakes. A stone tool known as a scraper indicates the presence of Neanderthals, placing the cave on the international map of remarkable archaeological sites
Speleologist Hrvoje Cvitanović and archaeologist Jana Frdelja, members of the Ursus Spelaeus speleological club in Karlovac, have discovered an artifact believed to be a tool used by Neanderthals in Mousterian times, reports tportal. Namely, it is a stone tool called a scraper.
“While restoration work was in progress in the entrance part of the upper Barać cave, namely that a protective fence was installed around the existing probe with exposed artifacts, I found a tool in stone that immediately struck me as very interesting, primarily because the artifact was located next to a cave bear phalanx and tooth, and secondly, because I’ve never seen chert [stone] shaped that way, except in the scientific literature. This was a chance discovery, because if we had decided to place the pillars just a few centimeters apart, this tool would have remained buried under layers of earth. I felt extremely happy because we are talking about a rare discovery that has the potential for further research, the result of which is likely to have not only national but international significance,” Cvitanović said.
Igor Karavanić PhD, a professor at the Department of Archeology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, explained that the tool was a very interesting scraper made of high-quality material.
“These tools are typical of the Middle Paleolithic, namely the Mousterian age, which in Europe is still associated with Neanderthals. Sometimes they can be from an earlier period, so it’s hard to draw conclusions in terms of culture with 100% certainty from a single artifact, but this is a very typical scraper found in the Mousterian, and given the information I received from those who participated in the excavation, it is very likely that it is related to Neanderthal man. This would mean that we have another new Middle Paleolithic site in Croatia where Neanderthals were present for at least a short time, judging by the artifact found in Barać Cave,” Dr Karavanić said. He is of the opinion that this discovery should be considered as an incentive for new research, because it gives great value to the site and proves the presence of man at a very attractive time not only for national science but also at the level international. .
In collaboration with external collaborators, the Barać Cave Public Institution has revealed the results of recent research, carried out in the cave in 2020 and 2021 with the aim of preserving, maintaining and promoting natural treasures in the region. of the Municipality of Rakovica.
“We consider that this extraordinary discovery has potential for the socio-economic development of tourism in our region. Our goal is to achieve recognizable national significance through further exploration of Upper Barać Cave, which should be enhanced by promoting it in the global tourist market and participating in international scientific events. These results give us great motivation to continue our research, because really, wherever you scratch the surface, you find something! After all, caves are the last unexplored areas on Earth. We won’t stop there,” said Tihana Oštrina, director of the Barać Cave public institution.
Encouraged by this phenomenal discovery, the institution plans to continue the research in the entrance part of the Upper Barać cave in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Ursus Spelaeus Speleology Club, the Department of Archeology of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb and the University of Wyoming in the United States.
One of their specific goals is to study layers of Neanderthal artifacts that would confirm Neanderthal activity and help determine the extent to which they were present in the Upper Barać Cave; as research progresses, it will be necessary to confirm that there has been recurring activity in the cave.