The last necklace made by the Neanderthals

A team of researchers have discovered Neanderthal jewellery made from eagle talons dating back almost 40,000 years.

Eagle talons were commonly used by Neanderthals to make jewellery, a practice that spread around southern Europe up to 40,000 years ago. Researchers have now discovered them being used in the Iberian Peninsula.

In an article published in Science Advances, researchers discuss their findings from the site of cave Foradada in Calfell, Spain. Antonio Rodríguez-Hidalgo, a researcher from the institution of Evolution in Africa (IDEA), led the article assessing the practice of using eagle talons for jewellery in the Neanderthal Period.

According to Rodríguez-Hidalgo, this could be “the last necklace made by the Neanderthals.” The findings also widen the temporary geographical limits that were estimated for these Neanderthal ornaments as this is the first time that they have been found in the Iberian Peninsula.

Rodríguez-Hidalgo, who was also a member of the Prehistoric Studies and Research Seminar (SERP) project at the University of Barcelona, added: “Neanderthals used eagle talons as symbolic elements, probably as necklace pendants, from the beginnings of the mid Palaeolithic”

Researchers discovered bone remains belonging to the Spanish Imperial Eagle from over 39,000 years ago. The remains had some markings that suggest that they were used to take the talons from the bird in order to make pendants.

Researchers determined that the animal was not manipulated for consumption but for symbolic reasons, this was concluded by researchers after assessing the marks visually while also comparing them to different prehistorical sites and ethnographic documentation.

Eagle talons are one of the oldest ornamental elements know in Europe, the use of them is believed to be older than the seashells that Homo Sapiens Sapiens perforated in northern Africa.

The discovery involved a change in the map of the territory where the step from Middle Palaeolithic to Upper Palaeolithic took place over 40,000 years ago and where interactions between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens Sapiens took place.