Archaeologists made a valuable discovery in the maize field in Iłża. They found ancient flint tools and traces of their machining. Scientists from the University of Warsaw and the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw claim that they were made by Neanderthals about 80,000 years ago.
The finds consist of two flint knives and several dozen flakes, which were probably formed during the processing of knives.
– It may not sound impressive, but for us archaeologists it is a very important discovery. This is one of the northernmost sites in our country, where traces of the presence of Neanderthals have been discovered. The second one is located in Zwoleń, several dozen kilometers away, said Katarzyna Pyżewicz from the Faculty of Archeology at the University of Warsaw.
A find in a cornfield
The discovery was made in Iłża in a corn field. They were surface surveys, which means that archaeologists collected antiquities from the surface. According to the researchers, it was a valuable place for a Neanderthal, because a few hundred meters from the place where the monuments were found, there is an outcrop of chocolate flint – the raw material from which the found tools were made. According to scientists, it was perfect for making high-quality tools.
– Most of the known sites related to the Neanderthal in Poland come from the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland and the Lower Silesia Province. Their tools were found mainly in caves. Traces of their presence outside of them are very rarely discovered, especially so far north – emphasized Witold Grużdź from the State Archaeological Museum in Warsaw. In his opinion, now is the time to search for places of human habitation in the Palaeolithic period (i.e. the Old Stone Age) outside of caves.
The place in Iłża where the discovery was made was on the radar of past researchers several decades ago. Initial research was then carried out in the area, but never published. Archaeologists only knew that there were probably interesting discoveries related to the early history of man.
– We wanted to verify these data – said Pyżewicz. She added that this year’s work prompts her to start excavations here, probably already in autumn. She expressed hope that the prehistoric camp will be located.
– We have also established that later, about 30-40 thousand years ago, modern man used the flint deposits in this place. We also found evidence of this in Iłża in the form of specific tools – emphasized Pyżewicz. Until now, archaeologists know nearly 30 sites from this period in Poland, which is why each subsequent one is very important for learning about the fate of the first representatives of modern man in the present territory of Poland.
Archaeologists indicate that the tools in Iłża made by modern and Neanderthal man are different. The former are more massive.
– This is probably due to the fact that the hands of Neanderthals were not as well developed manually as the hands of modern man. However, it cannot be ruled out that these knives used by both species of man were set in wood, for example, she pointed out.
The place where you can find prehistoric tools is located on a small elevation above the contemporary Iłżanka River. According to archaeologists, tens of thousands of years ago, it had a good view of the surrounding area, which was important for ancient people.
It remains a mystery for archaeologists whether modern man and Neanderthal coexisted in the area of today’s Iłża. – At this stage of research, we are not able to state that. Perhaps the planned excavations will shed some light on this aspect, emphasized Grużdź.
Scientists consider the Neanderthal to be a “brother” and not an ancestor of modern man. It belonged to the expired line of homo sapiens. For a long time, representatives of this species were presented in a rather unfriendly way – as rather primitive creatures. However, research from recent years indicates that this species of human has much more in common with us than previously thought. The researchers found, among other things, that the Neanderthals were the authors of some rock drawings known from European caves – those whose age is estimated at over 64,000. years. In turn, thanks to DNA research, it was possible to discover that modern man was interbreeding with the Neanderthal. The oldest remains of the Neanderthal man identified so far in Poland come from the Ciemna Cave and have about 115,000. years.
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