Ireland: Bear Bone is Evidence of Stone-Age Humans Apr 2, 2016 22:03:17 GMT
Post by UKarchaeology on Apr 2, 2016 22:03:17 GMT
Since the 1970s, the earliest known evidence of human settlement in Ireland has been the hunter-gatherer settlement of Mount Sandel, located on the River Bann in County Derry, which dated back to the Mesolithic period, around 8,000 B.C. Now, scientists say a bear’s knee bone found more than a century ago in a cave on Ireland’s western coast is evidence that humans were active on the island even earlier. Recent radiocarbon dating and expert analysis indicate that seven cut marks on the knee bone were man-made during the Paleolithic period, or Stone Age—some 12,500 years ago.
In 1903, a team of archaeologists found thousands of bones in Alice and Gwendoline Cave in County Clare, on Ireland’s western coast. In their report of the excavation, the scientists noted that they had found seven cuts from a long blade on one of the bones: the patella, or knee bone, of an adult brown bear. They didn’t know much more than that, as radiocarbon dating technology wouldn’t be developed until decades later.
Flash forward to 2010, when Marion Dowd, an archaeologist at the Institute of Technology Sligo, and Ruth Carden, a research associate at the National Museum of Ireland, uncovered the bone in the museum’s collections, where it had been stored in a cardboard box since the 1920s. Carden and Dowd, a specialist in cave archaeology, thought the specimen could be important, and they applied for funding to send it for radiocarbon dating. In addition to the dating performed at Queen’s University Belfast, the two scientists sent a sample to the University of Oxford to double-check the result.
Dowd and Carden had expected a prehistoric date, but were shocked when both sets of testing came back with the same result: The bone dated all the way back to the Paleolithic period, or Stone Age. According to their findings, published in a recent issue of the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, the seven cuts were man-made and inflicted by a sharp tool on fresh bone—meaning they were made at the same time the bear was killed, around 10,500 B.C.
Full story: www.history.com/news/bear-bone-discovered-in-1903-is-evidence-of-stone-age-humans-in-ireland