Alexander Marshack

Primitive ape-like creatures—that’s what many people think of the Neandertals. But this 100,000-year-old amulet from Tata, Hungary, suggests otherwise: As members of our own species, Neandertals were intelligent, talisman-creating humans capable of some degree of symbolic thinking. The hand-sized plaque, clearly prized for its beauty, is a highly polished “lamelle,” or dental plate, which was cleaved from a mammoth molar, shaped into an oval and covered with red ochre, traces of which can still be seen in the cracks on the surface.