Leather Fashion has been hip for 50,000 years!

In 2005, scientist Marie Soressi (Leiden University) discovered an unusual piece of bone in a cave in the Dordogne region. Age: about 50,000 years. It turned out to be a part of a specialized tool for leather working, a so-called “leather tool”. ‘lissoir’. Maker: unmistakably a Neanderthal! Under an overhanging rock 35 kilometers away, Soressi’s colleagues found a few more similar pieces of the same type of tool. Soressi: “The Neanderthals were able to make these tools themselves, and the design is so perfect that we still use it today. It’s amazing that this design has lasted almost unchanged for 50,000 years; that’s how good it is at its task.”

The lissoir is also called slicker or burnisher by modern tanners, making them perhaps the only craftsmen still using an invention of the Neandertahlers on a daily basis!

The lissoirs found were examined by several scientists. In a newly published study, University of California researcher Naomi Martisius says Neandertahlers were very picky about the tools they used. Her research shows that they preferred to use nice strong beef/bison ribs for their lissoirs. That was harder to come by than the -more in stock but less strong- deer ribs, so that was their second choice.

A recently found bone needle and a piece of twined thread are additional clues that Neandertahlers did more with their tanned skins than wrap them around themselves. There was probably sewing! And that means Leather Fashion!

According to Chris Stringer, chief operating officer human origins from the Natural History Museum in London, they had “big brains, a complex society and were skilled toolmakers. They survived many centuries under difficult conditions. The image of growling primitive cavemen needs to be revamped. They were not stupid!”

*Lissoir: A special tool to make skin softer, stronger and more waterproof.

Source: UPI https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2020/05/08/Neanderthals-preferred-bovine-bones-for-leather-making-tools/1381588959930/

Source: The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/12/neanderthals-invented-tool-leather-lissoir