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Discovery of Ancient Tool Unravels Mystery of How Rope was Made 40,000 Years Ago from Ayman's blog

Rope making tool from mammoth ivory from Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany, ca. 40,000 years old.

Rope and twine are critical components in the technology of mobile hunters and gatherers. In exceptional cases, impressions of string have been found in fired clay and on rare occasions string was depicted in the contexts of Ice Age art, but on the whole almost nothing is known about string, rope and textiles from the Paleolithic.

A key discovery by Conard’s team in Hohle Fels Cave in southwestern Germany and experimental research and testing by Dr. Veerle Rots and her team form the University of Liège is rewriting the history of rope.

The entrance of the Hohle Fels cave

The entrance of the Hohle Fels cave (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The find is a carefully carved and beautifully preserved piece of mammoth ivory 20.4 cm in length with four holes between 7 and 9 mm in diameter. Each of the holes is lined with deep, and precisely cut spiral incisions. The new find demonstrates that these elaborate carvings are technological features of rope-making equipment rather than just decoration.


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