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22 March 2011
The last Neanderthals - artifacts found in Greece

It has long been thought that the Neanderthal hunter gatherers kept to lower altitudes, where game and wild animals would have been more plentiful. However, Greek archaeologists, working in the Pindos Mountains of Northern Greece, have found the remains of two major Neanderthal sites.
     The areas, first excavated in 2003 by Professor Nikos Efstratiou of the University of Thessaloniki and other Italian archaeologists, are at an altitude of over 1,700 metres and the Neanderthals moved between this level and higher, up to 2,200 metres. The sites have been dated at between 50,000 and 35,000 years ago, towards the end of the Neanderthal Era in Europe.
     It is believed that it was climate change in the Late Pleistocene Era which forced them out of the lowlands and valleys of more northerly climes, in the search for food. Over 2,000 artifacts have been found, including flint blades and sharp-tipped implements, used for hunting and skinning. Was this the last group of Neanderthals in Europe? That is a mystery that still remains to be solved.

Edited from Associated Press, star Tribune (9 March 2011)

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