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VIDEO. In the footsteps of the Neanderthals, the inventors of shoes

The Rozel site in the Cotentin provides extremely rare remains of Neanderthal daily life. Among these fragile remains are more than 2,000 footprints: it is the largest collection of footprints in the world from this period! And archaeologists were able to prove that those feet were shod. The shoe would therefore have appeared in Neanderthal men and women 80,000 years ago.

Time is running out… Since 2012, archaeologist Dominique Cliquet, chief curator of heritage DRAC Normandy, started a race against time in search of Place Rozel, in the Cotentin. A prehistoric site of international importance because it provides extremely rare remains of the everyday life of Neanderthals, but a site threatened by sea erosion.

Dominique Cliquet and his team must act before the sea swallows the traces of life left in the dune by the Neanderthals, men, women and children who frequented the area.

This race against time is the whole point of the documentary “Neanderthal, in the footsteps of another humanity” by David Geoffroy broadcast this Thursday on France 3 Normandie : an unprecedented archaeological investigation, which takes us on a dizzying journey through time, in the footsteps of the Neanderthal. Little by little, behind the everyday life of the Neanderthals, archeology allows us to glimpse what founded the humanity of this extinct species, so different… and yet so close to us!

“NOTeandertal, on the trailother humanitye”

David Geoffroy

Co-production of Court-jus Production and France Télévisions

In the documentary, the fundamental discovery is made by dr. Ashley Wisemanspecialist in prehistoric traces at the University of Cambridge:

“We made this prehistoric goat shoe and we test what our footprints look like as we walk through these different boxes with different water contents and compare that to what they look like without skin to try to determine whether or not Neanderthals wore shoes at that site.”

video duration: 00h01mn56s

Co-production of Court-jus Production and France Télévisions

©Film by David Geoffroy

She continues: “Our preliminary results are very, very promising. What we’ve done is we’ve taken sand and added water and in these first studies with little water, we couldn’t. I don’t see any difference between a barefoot footprint and a shoed footprint. They look same thing. And if the sand is very dry, then we can’t decipher if they were wearing shoes or not. But when we started to increase the volume of water, we started to see differences, we started to see a match and started to see shoes and there were very, very clear differences and those body shapes are what we see on the page.

Well, yes, I mean it we started proving that we have footprints in shoes on the site.”

We will return the origin of shoes to the past. The oldest known shoes date from about 30,000 years ago. They date back to 80,000 years ago. Which would require a time jump of 50,000 years.

Dominique Cliquet, Chief Heritage Curator of DRAC Normandy

Excerpt from “Neanderthal, in the footsteps of another humanity”

video duration: 00h00mn57s

David Geoffroy’s film co-produced by Court-jus Production and France Télévisions

©France 3 Normandy

The documentary is scheduled to be broadcast at the time of the official opening of the exhibition dedicated to the Rozel archaeological site at the manor of Tourpin the Cotentin.

David Geoffroy’s film won the prize for the best prehistoric film at the last festival in Florence (Firenze Archeofilm) in Italy and special mention in International Archaeological Film Festival (IFAN) in Nyon, Switzerlandin April.

NOTeandertal, on the trailother humanityeDavid Geoffroy

Broadcast this Thursday, June 8 at 11:45pm on France 3 Normandie.

Replay on Monday, June 12 at 9:05 a.m.

And of course, whenever you want for a month in the replay.

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