The first proof that Neanderthal man engaged in art has emerged. It is largely believed that Neanderthals existed, but it was not known that they engaged in arts until a cave art was recently found near Gibraltar. The art could only have been made by a stone tool, and it was etched into a type of rock known as dolomite. The art was a cross-hatch that scientists are still trying to understand its meaning or representations.
There are ample proofs that the Neanderthal engaged in basic activities that modern man does like caring for the sick and burying the dead. They also engaged in some form of communication language and even painted their bodies as a form of beautification, but it was never known if they undertook artworks until the recently found cave marks indicated they did this. The cave marks were discovered under layers of undisturbed sediments of rock that had existed for thousands of years.
According to the director of the Heritage Division of the Gibraltar Museum, Prof. Clive Finlayson, “we can definitely say it is more than 39,000 years old, a time when there were no modern humans near Gibraltar.” A director of research at the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientific (CNRS) in Bordeaux states that dolomite “is a very hard rock, so it requires a lot effort to produce the lines (etched into the rock surface)” and he believes a full-grown Neanderthal would have struck up to 300 times with a stone tool to produce the kind of art under discussion.
Researchers further believe that the art could signify some mark of ownership on the said cave, and it could also mean a directional sign because its direction changes about 90 degrees at the entrance of the cave where it was found. Clive Gamble, an archaeologist from the University of Southampton states that “what is critical, however, is the dating (of the artwork)”.