Neanderthals were using jewelry like ancient Yankees caps before Homo sapiens arrived, and hominids had kitchens and workshops nearly a million years ago.
We Homo sapiens consider ourselves pretty special, with our symbolic art, abstract thinking, and highly organized societies. But evidence is mounting that these hallmarks of modern human behavior may have existed in earlier hominids.
In Spanish caves once occupied by Neanderthals, archaeologist João Zilhão of the University of Bristol unearthed punctured scallop shells crusted with mineral pigments: Neanderthal jewelry. Painted with reds and yellows, the shells may have been worn as pendants, perhaps conveying social information about the wearer to other members of the group. “It’s like putting on your Yankees cap when you go to the stadium so people know who you are,” Zilhão says.
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