In the ancient past, Europe was a very different place – at one time Britain was still operating in the European continent.
Only after Millennia, when that connection was long broken, did modern humans begin to rediscover the ancient art of the Stone Age that once lived in the lands now hidden under the waves.
One of these lost territories – called Doggerland – lies between Britain and the Netherlands, and its existence today is reflected in the countless cultural objects that carry along the shores of the Dutch coast.
From these arts, numerous thorny points carved from bone have long been considered to be a form of weapons used by the Mesolithic tribes living in or around Dogerland, 11,000 years ago.
“We’re sure they are projectile points,” said Joannes Decker, an archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands. New Scientist, Pointing out that barbed points, which probably adorn ar arrows or spears, indicate signs of active use not as cere ceremonial objects but as weapons or tools.
“They’ve been redesigned. They show usability.”
But that’s not all. In a new study led by Decker, researchers analyzed 10 of the thorny points collected from the Dutch North Sea coast using a technique called mach spectrometry and collagen peptide mass fingerprinting (aka ZoMS).
It was never known what type of bones were used for weapons, but researchers were surprised when the results came out, showing that human bones are used for two of the thorny dots, the rest being mostly carved from ancient bones. Red deer (Service Elfus).
Researchers argue that the main use of red deer bones could easily reflect the availability of animals to ancient hunter-gatherers.
However, other species, including Roach (Boss Premigenius), Roe deer (Preolus Curio Priolus) And wild boar (Sus Scrofa), But should be easy to source, and their bones or antlers would be just as appropriate from a biomechanical point of view, if not more so.
“This was not an economic decision,” Decker explained Smithsonian Magazine. “There must be another reason, a cultural reason, why it was important to use this species.”
It’s especially for human bones, which is even more surprising.
The authors wrote in their paper that “ethnographic data on predatory collectors, which use the instant return forging style, show that the amount of animal resources is in the order of magnitude much higher than the biomass of predators.”
“In other words, human bones usually compose only a small fraction of the amount of bones available to hunters … so, it is reasonable to assume that opportunistic selection for human bones is highly unlikely.”
So what could explain the purposeful use of human bones by the ancient hunters of Doggerland?
We have no way of knowing for sure, but researchers have hypothesized that the use of red deer bones may reflect some kind of culture-specific meaning or symbolism attributed to the species.
Similarly, human bone points could serve religious ceremonial purposes, representing a kind of morturing practice – one where “human remains are transformed into weapons”.
Dogerland tides may increase, but remain forever in the afterlife.
These findings are reported Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.