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Hematite “Pencil” Discovered in Denisova Cave

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Russia Denisova CaveNOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—The Siberian Times reports that a piece of hematite that may have been used for making reddish-brown marks between 50,000 and 45,000 years ago was discovered in Denisova Cave’s southern gallery. Mikhail Shunkov of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, in the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said the “pencil” may have been used by either the Denisovans or Neanderthals who inhabited the cave. “We cannot say how exactly it was used, but we believe it was for some artistic purpose,” Shunkov said. Similar implements have been unearthed at another Paleolithic site in the Altai Mountains, he added. Beads made of ivory and soapstone were also recovered at the site, along with a marble pebble bearing traces of ocher. To read about a girl with mixed Denisovan and Neanderthal heritage whose remains were found in Denisova Cave, go to “Hominin Hybrid.”

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