Photographs of 35,000-year-old deer bones with grooves at fixed spots found in a cave in the Galilee. Photo: Hebrew University
A prehistoric culture which lived during the Paleolithic (Old Stone Age), some 35,000 – 38,000 years ago, made marks in the form of grooves in a fixed area of deer bones, bone finds from a cave in the region of Galilee in Northern Israel have revealed.
The bones were processes so that the grooves were made on the same spots, which is why it is reasonable to assume that this was unique item of the local culture, researchers from Hebrew University in Jerusalem have concluded, as cited by The Jerusalem Post.
In a study, the researchers have examined remains of ancient Levantine deer bones, found in the Hayonim Cave in the Western Galilee, Israel, and have discovered a cultural symbol: bones with specific grooves appearing in a fixed area.
According to the archaeologists, this may have been a unique symbol of the local ancient culture acted as a marker for the group.
The unique prehistoric cultural group may have arrived in the region of Galilee in today’s Israel from Europe between 35,000 and 38,000 years ago.
The marked bones may have been sewn into a garment or worn as a pendant to differentiate the group’s members from other groups living in the same area.
The deer bones had identical grooves in contrast to other objects found in the area, used for everyday activities, such as hunting, preparing food, or processing skins.
The newly published research regarding this group in the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria), concludes that distinct cultural entities with distinguishing characteristics already existed in the early stages of human history.
The research was a joint project of Dr. Jose-Miguel Tejero of the French National Center for Scientific Research; Prof. Anna Belfer Cohen and Dr. Rivka Rabinovich of the Archeology Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; emeritus Harvard University Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef; and Hebrew University’s Dr. Vitaly Gutkin.
Other remains from the specific prehistoric culture include stone vessels, bone vessels and horns.
They are similar to remains found of an ancient culture in Western and Central Europe that existed during the years of the Levantine period.
This has led to a working assumption that the group arrived in the Levant from Europe, lasted a relatively short time and then disappeared or merged with the local cultural entities.
“It was interesting to examine systematically the nature of these items which were created out of dissected animals and to note how different they are," Rabinovich, one of the researchers, has explained.
“Microscopic observations, as well as data obtained with the help of the scanning electron microscope (which has become an important tool in archeological research), made us aware of the uniqueness of the symbols," she is quoted as saying.
“Likewise, at the end of each observation like this, the question remains: What were these items really used for? This is the most fascinating part – trying to understand behavior not necessarily tied to survival," the Israeli archaeologist points out.