Neanderthal scraping and manual handling of raptors wing bones: Evidence from Fumane Cave. Experimental activities and comparison


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November 2016


Given the still scanty amount of data ascribable to the interaction between raptors and hominins, this contribution aims to fuel the debate on the complexity of Neanderthal behavior during MIS3 in Western Eurasia. Nowadays, large raptors in general are scarce in nature, due to being top consumers in the trophic chain, and attracted hominins possibly as advantageous indicators of scavenging and feeding opportunities. Nevertheless, a symbolic rather than alimentary significance was designed from several taphonomic investigations, demonstrating various deliberate actions for removing wings, feathers and talons from raptors of different sizes. Following the results of taphonomic examinations of four raptors' (cf. Aegypius monachus, cf. Gypaetus barbatus, Clanga clanga and Falco columbarius) bones recovered from layer A9 at Fumane Cave, Italy, the data produced are here compared and supported by experimental butchering and contextualized within a wider context that ranges into the Early Upper Palaeolithic. Comparable to previous examples from Fumane and from other sites, the traces impressed on the surface of the wing bones suggest the recovery of the feathers or the wing tip adorned of the primary feathers, but also more complex and insisted interventions aimed to prepare the bone for a possible functional use.


Raptor, Zooarchaeology, Taphonomy, Neanderthal, Italy

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Quaternary International, Vol. 421 (2016-11-09).