Tens of thousands of years ago, deep in a French cave called Grotte Mandrin, near Malataverne in the Rhône Valley, arrowheads were discovered. However, these were not just any arrowheads; in fact, these would become the earliest known arrowheads outside of Africa! So today, we will be learning all about these arrowheads, where they came from, their importance, and just what they mean for those who lived in the area during the time, 50k years ago. This article will be different others I have written, as the research for it has been conducted very differently.
As AI begins to take over how we do many of our day-to-day tasks, Microsoft has created a new “answer engine,” as they call it (vs. a “search engine”) built into Bing. To gain access to it, you have to join a waiting list and then be approved, and once you are, you gain access to this new AI. There are many things this new Answer Engine can do, and it is fun to play with, and I encourage you all to try it; for this paper, I wanted to use it for a practical reason. Writing a research paper did not compromise the integrity of my research. However, I think it aided it and allowed me to understand things from a different perspective.
Knowing that, let us dive in and see what there is to learn from Bing about these newly discovered arrowheads!
So what do we know? We know that these arrowheads date to about 56,800-51,700 years ago, making them the oldest arrowheads in the world to be found outside of Africa; this also places the makers of these arrowheads, stark in France at the time, where we know Neanderthals were still roaming the land. However, who were the makers of these advanced hunting weapons?
Known as Neronian arrowheads, these are only found in Europe and so far have been known only to accompany modern Homo sapiens, and NOT Neanderthals. These small flunk flakes measure between 1-4 mm in length. Published in a recent study in Nature Ecology and Evolution in February, these arrowheads were described in detail by authors led by Dr. Ludovic Silmak, Laure Metz, and other researchers from France, Spain, Italy, Canada, and Germany. This study shows that modern humans were in France much earlier than predicted or demonstrated by any current evidence. These arrowheads indicate that they were not only there but also this advanced at that stage already.
One of the most significant observations made by other science writers is that this might be evidence of why the Neanderthals went extinct, that this was a definite sign of superior military power, and that modern Humans must have caused their extinction. However, I think this is so far from the truth. If we had modern humans using bows and arrows in Europe 50kya against Neanderthals or frequently against any species, we would see signs of this type of violence on the bones. There has been little to no evidence of conflict between these two species. Much more likely, they saw each other as Humans from different places, unfamiliar but not wholly different. After all, we all have about 2-7% Neanderthal DNA! What does this mean? Well, our ancestors must have been interbreeding with Neanderthals, a supposedly entirely separate species, yet produced viable offspring, to the point that we are some of their descendants.
So were these modern humans, who we now know in France at this time, using their advanced weapons against other peoples? The simple and short answer is most likely no. Of course, new evidence can always be presented and change what we think and view, and being against that idea is bad science.
So what exactly was found? Well, in this French cave, over 300 Neronian arrowheads were found. The authors created and conducted experiments based on these arrowheads to discover their efficacy and what types of animals these early but advanced humans were doing. These arrowheads show that modern humans were leaving Africa much more technologically advanced than once thought. Whether these tools were designed and crafted only in Europe or on the way, there will remain to be seen. However, now we can follow the path of creating these stone arrowheads and see the evolution of arrowheads.
How interesting, fascinating, and just downright cool! I hope you have learned from this short article on this remarkable discovery and maybe learned something about the future of AI research and writing, as this article was a synch to do the research for, everything delicately and correctly curated to the needs of my questions and interests surrounding this topic. I highly recommend AI-powered analysis to anyone in scientific fields, or those whose citations and souring information are critical to further understanding the research!
Until next time,
(1) France unearthed the earliest evidence of bow and arrow use outside Africa. https://news.lee.net/partners/cnn/earliest-evidence-of-bow-and-arrow-use-outside-africa-unearthed-in-france/article_7645cc3c-1900-57cd-8a02-36b091713332.html Accessed 2/28/2023.
(2) Earliest evidence of bow and arrow use outside Africa unearthed in France. https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/23/world/france-cave-earliest-bow-arrow-use-outside-africa-scn/index.html Accessed 2/28/2023.
(3) Earliest evidence of bow and arrow use outside Africa unearthed in France. https://nbcpalmsprings.com/2023/02/23/earliest-evidence-of-bow-and-arrow-use-outside-africa-unearthed-in-france/ Accessed 2/28/2023.
(4) Modern Humans With Bows and Arrows Invaded France 54,000 Years Ago …. https://www.haaretz.com/archaeology/2023-02-22/ty-article/modern-humans-with-bows-and-arrows-invaded-france-54-000-years-ago/00000186-790b-dc22-afe7-797f234f0000 Accessed 2/28/2023.
(5) Earliest evidence of bow and arrow use outside Africa unearthed in France. https://bing.com/search?q=new+arrowheads+found+in+france+50000+years+ago Accessed 2/28/2023.
Conversation with Bing, 2/28/2023(1) New Study Shows Archery Appeared in Europe Thousands of Years Earlier …. https://today.uconn.edu/2023/02/new-study-shows-archery-appeared-in-europe-thousands-of-years-earlier-than-previously-thought/ Accessed 2/28/2023.
(7) Tiny Points Made By Homo Sapiens 54,000 Years Ago Found In Mandrin Cave. https://www.ancientpages.com/2023/02/23/tiny-points-made-by-homo-sapiens-54000-years-ago-found-in-mandrin-cave/ Accessed 2/28/2023.
(8) Earliest evidence of bow and arrow use outside Africa unearthed in France. https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/23/world/france-cave-earliest-bow-arrow-use-outside-africa-scn/index.html Accessed 2/28/2023.
(9) Earliest evidence of bow and arrow use outside Africa unearthed in France. https://nbcpalmsprings.com/2023/02/23/earliest-evidence-of-bow-and-arrow-use-outside-africa-unearthed-in-france/ Accessed 2/28/2023.
(10) Archaeologists find early evidence of archery in Europe | Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/science/europe-archeology-archery/ Accessed 2/28/2023.