Chapter 5: Ancient Cave-Shelters: How old?



In many parts of Southwestern Europe, and in some parts of Central and Eastern Europe there are ancient rock-shelters and limestone caves. Beneath these rock-shelters and in some of these caves, human beings have lived. They have lived at first from hunting the mammoth, the woolly rhinoceros, the bison, the horse, and many other kinds of animals. They even drew and painted pictures on the walls of their cave and made small sculptures of them from mammoth ivory and clay. I have been twice in SW-France to visit these caves and their paintings and drawings. – When have the human beings and the mammoths, which they hunted, lived there? How many years ago? How reliable are the radiocarbon-dates, which archeologists have published from these ancient caves? How trustworthy are they? What have scientists now found out about this?



Engraving of a mammoth (the ‘Patriarch’) in the Cave of Rouffignac, Dordogne, Southwest France. Middle – late Magdalenian. Length 71 cm. (Photo: J. Vertut). From: A. J. Sutcliffe, On the Track of Ice Age Mammals (1985:89) Fig. 8.3f). The hair-cover of the woolly mammoth in southwestern France was just as long as that of the North Siberia.


Gunnar Heinsohn, is a professor at the University of Bremen, North Germany. He has nothing to do with the Bible. He neither tries to confirm the Bible nor to refute it. He has published his findings in his book, How old is the human race? Gräfeling near Munich 2000.


Professor Gunnar Heinsohn writes: “If the archaeologists – like, for example, in the Geißenklösterle-cave must distribute –50 cm to 60 cm cultural-rubbish into 10.000 years (Hahn 1988:101), they are forced to divide this half meter into fine layers. And each one of these fine layers will contain per year on the average only one twentieth millimeter of remains.” - Heinsohn, G. (2000:8)


“Petrifactions [turning into stone] of organic material need indeed uncommon, therefore catastrophic conditions. Therefore, one cannot expect them very often. But how about the artifacts, that are made from stone from the start? The earliest stone-tools of the human race are supposed to be about –2.5 million or at least 160.000 generations old. England's history from William the conqueror until today contains only 60 of such generations. And, ‘differently than bones, that turn into fossils only rarely, stone-tools are as good as indestructible’ (S. Leaky 1994:12).


“Each active individual during his life is using many, possibly dozens of stone-tools. And quite a lot of them will be damaged, when used, and become useless. Thus, for only these 160.000 generations alone we will need millions of stone-tools. These individuals would therefore have needed many hundred millions stone-tools. Why one only finds a few percent of them (of the expected number) in the archeological sites, one does not explain to the reader. One does not even mention this problem to him in the literature. The same applies to the sensational lack at fireplaces, which one would have to expect, if they had really been erected since 700.000 years.” – Heinsohn, G. (2000:11)


“For the beginning of Homo erectus in Eurasia 1,8 million years ago, instead of 0,7 to 1 million years ago, there is no proof at all. 800.000 additional years of Eurasian history of a human being, who used fire and stone-tools during more than 50.000 generations, must have produced huge quantities of cultural rubble. But of this, we do see practically nothing. The quantities of the Erectus-findings in the best stratified caves, would only be enough for very few generations.” - Heinsohn, G. (2000:21)



Stratigraphy of El-Castillo/Santander


“From –4.500 years ago, Neolithikum until –700.000 years ago, clays without tools, but traces of fireplaces, homo erectus?)


“The sediment layers of Castillo are 18-20 m high. They are higher than any other one. They do show us, perhaps, where Erectus has lived the longest span of time, up to the Neolithikum. A shortening of the El-Castillo chronology by a factor of about 100, from –700.000 years to –7.000 years, would produce a chronology, which would agree with its stratigraphy and with the amount (of stone-tools), which one has found there: Actually, this period of time would still be too long, that we should hesitates, to give the lowermost hearth-layer a whole hundredth of 350.000, that is 3.500 full years. Sooner, approximately 5.000 years would be reasonable for the entire Hominid-history of Eurasia, from Erectus until today. To disprove such (short) time periods archaeologically–by presenting enough finds (= stone tools, fires-places), which one needs for larger periods of time, would not be easy.


“Heribert Illig (1988:145ff) has proposed about 4.000 years for the time of the arising of modern man until now. ... Now, one proposes, to add to these 4.000 years, no more than another millennium for Erectus and Neanderthal. The famous 5.000 years, which one now attributes to the high-culture alone since the bronze age, were enough archaeologically for the entire Eurasian Hominid–time. And they would also force geology and biology, to revise the Darwinizing spans of time.” - Heinsohn, G. (2000:85)


“Illigs dating down of the beginning of the Aurignacien, from –30.000 on –2.000, that is, by a factor of 15, is admittedly much less radical, than that of the Inuit bones-scrapers, by a factor of 20, or even, when Müller-Karpe thinks about the intermediate-layers of the Erectus-time, (by a factor of 100). But that one has hardly taken up.” - Heinsohn, G. (2000:87)


“More exactly, than through the technical evolution of the tools, we may find out, when we know something about the absolute number of the tools per place-of-settlement and how they were used. There has been a consequential controversy about the rock-roof Combe Grenal/Dordogne, between the excavator F. Bordes, 1961; 1972a, on the one hand and the American archaeologist Louis and Sally Binford, 1966; 1968; 1969, on the other hand. From this we could learn much. Bordes began with his excavation of the rock-roof in the year 1953. Already before that, they knew about it since 1816, that this site contained mainly Moustérien, that is, Neanderthal tools.


“The sediments of the 55 cultural layers of the Neanderthaler of Combe Grenal, that one has studied, are up to 4 m high. Today, one dates them between –90.000 and –30.000 years. Bordes ‘knew’‚so to speak from the start that he would find the legacies of approximately 60.000 years or of about 4.000 generations (where girls, fifteen years old, give birth for the first time. On the average, there had to be then 6 to 7 cm of deposit for one millennium or for 66 generations. The amount of the layers of Combe Grenal had to serve a time period, that was almost twenty-five times as long, as that of the entire western civilization.


“The Moustérien layers in Combe Grenal ‘are doubtlessly the best investigated ones in the world’ (Binford/Binford 1969:84). In this cave, 35 to 40 individuals are supposed to have lived at the same time.. Altogether 19.000 stone-tools (or their remains) one has found there. On the average, that is one single stone-tool during three years for the entire resident population. Sally Binford (first 1968) and Louis Binford had now found out that the different tools of the Moustérien do not belong to different tribal traditions or even epochs, but that they had different functions, such as hunting, slaughtering, building, preparing of food, treating of skins, cooking, extracting the raw material for tools, to cut down trees, to make tools etc ).” - Heinsohn, G. (2000:90)


“Therefore, each individual group of Hominids owned a very ‘large set of tools’ (Pfeiffer 1978:166). By using extremely selective mathematical analyses, they were able to find out, that they needed one set of building-tools (to cut and prepare wood etc ); for this they needed twelve different types of stone-tools. When killing and dismantling animals, they needed ten, when preparing food, they needed seven other types of stone-tools. Four appliances served for grinding and to chop straw, six to make leather etc (Pfeiffer1978:169)


“40 of the 55 layers of Combe Grenal contained enough tools, to gain statistically satisfactory results. Fourteen (maybe even seventeen) different sets of tools they were able to identify with the Binford method. Each one of these sets had 4 to 12 different tools. Let us assume, that of the 40 inhabitants in Combe Grenal only 20 of them possessed one third of these tools. That is, five of the sets of tools contained 8 single appliances. There had to be then 800 different tools. Even if we assume, that they were using these tools for a whole generation (that is 15 years): During 4.000 generations, there had to be then not 19.000, but 3.200.000 tools or their remains. One certainly cannot assume that one will recover all the discarded (used-up) tools in the layers; so here remains a considerable insecurity. This, however, is more than compensated by assuming, that they were using one stone-tool for 15 years. Already, when cutting up a single animal, or when removing the fat from a single hide, several appliances can become useless.


“Would it, therefore, not be more reasonable, to assume that the 55 layers of Combe Grenal do represent instead of the 55 millennia only 55 individual years? This seems to be proved by the fact that several strata (layers) are only pure summers-layers (Pfeiffer 1978:177). But if one had not used such a single layer for only one summer, but for an average of 1.000 summers, as Bordes and his adversaries believe, then there would have to be within each average layer of 6-7 cm an internal stratification. And this internal stratification would have to contain then up to a thousand sub-layers. The remains, which they had left there during the summer, the wind would have blown during the rough season into the cave. Of them, some parts must have been left there. But one has not found them.” - Heinsohn, G. (2000:92, 93)


“Would the 19.000 tools from the 55 layers of Combe Grenal, said to represent 60.000 years, be too many tools for only 55 years? Less than 350 stone-tools for the work of 40 people on 365 days of the year would come out of it. The 40 people of Combe Grenal would have, seen statistically, all together have ‘used up’ every day only one single stone-tool. Would one have to reject such a wearing-down-quota, because it is exaggerated?


“I do not try here, to reduce the 60.000 conventional years at Combe Grenal arbitrarily to less than 60 years. First, one must assess the material legacies of comparable places of discovery anew, also on the background of realistic assumptions of the consumption of fuel, material and food of a human being per year again. Before that, we are not able to come to serious results. But already by reducing the 4.000 generations, assumed conventionally to have lived in Combe Grenal to, let’s say – 40 generations, would prove the scientific unfoundedness (untenableness) of the ruling (now generally excepted) chronology.” - Heinsohn G. (2000:93)



Conventional and actual, reduced Archeological Time Scale


Archeological Time

Conventional age

Actual, reduced age

Iron age


Until today

Bronze age


Until -600

Young stone age,


Until –900/800

Younger old stone age


Until –1.400

Middle old stone age


Until –2.100

Older stone age


Until –2.500





Adapted from Heinsohn, G. (2000:112). The minus sign before the number indicates that it means the time before our Common Era. The figure -600, for example, means that the Bronze Age has ended around 600 before our Common Era, or about 2600 years ago. This also shows us that the woolly mammoth and its companions have lived until about –2.500 B. C. or about 4.500 years ago.