Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Back to our Roots?

Today's artefact is a true taste of Prehistory, it's some 230,000 years old.....

It is of course a handaxe, this is a Paleolithic example and hails from a cave in Denbighshire, Wales know as Pontnewydd.  Pontnewydd is associated with Neanderthal activity and some 19 individuals were in part identified within the cave.  These are the oldest known inhabitants of Wales and are credited by many as being the first Welsh people.  Their lives were without doubt tough, they lived during a glacial period, food was scarce and the nature of their tools suggests that their technique required them to be within close proximity to the prey.  The presence of ice would have minimised vegitation and as such meat was essential to survival.  To us, in our modern world, this artefact can look simply like stone, often over looked in museums everyday, but to the Neanderthal community of Pontnewydd it was all that stood between them and death.  The range of individuals found alongside this hand axe are varied in age, there is a presence of young children and developed adults, suggesting that the cave was at least a temporary home for this community before a disaster struck.  The likelihood of this being their permenant dwelling is slim, the Neanderthals were nomadic peoples and during this period there was no English Channel, we were part of the Continent.  Where these people had come from or were looking to reach will never be known, but it is possible that they found themselves in Pontnewydd purely through the ongoing feat of seeking food.  

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