Bradshaw Foundation - Latest News

BRADSHAW FOUNDATION - LATEST NEWS

 

Understanding the Neanderthal

10 Jun 2014
Bradshaw Foundation
Article

Neanderthal
Z. Burian

Homo neanderthalensis is now an extinct species or subspecies within the genus Homo and closely related to modern humans. They are known from fossil specimens dating to the Pleistocene period and found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. The term 'Neanderthal' comes from the modern spelling of the Neander Valley in Germany where the species was first discovered, in the Feldhofer Cave. Homo neanderthalensis existed from 600,000 to 25,000 years ago, with the final area of occupation in Gibralter.

However, 'the Neanderthal' has been stereotyped. In the Washington Post Terrence McCoy explains why these stereotypes are now being discredited.

According to Fred H. Smith, a physical anthropologist at Loyola University, 'In the minds of the European anthropologists who first studied them, Neanderthals were the embodiment of primitive humans, subhumans if you will. They were believed to be scavengers who made primitive tools and were incapable of language or symbolic thought.'

However, new research shows that Neanderthals were not less intelligent than anatomically modern humans or that such intellectual inferiority spurred their demise. Research indicates that inbreeding and assimilation may be the reason they vanished.

In a study, co-authored by researchers Paola Villa of the University of Boulder and Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University in the Netherlands, they argue that 'the disappearance of the Neanderthals is routinely explained in terms of 'superiority' of modern humans, who had developed in Africa the ability to evolve complex cultural traditions and had become equipped with cognitive capabilities which allowed them to expand globally and replace all others. Inferiority has been at the core of many explanations for the demise of the Neanderthals. But the evidence for cognitive inferiority is simply not there.'

Planning: the myth that Neanderthals couldn't plan is false because evidence suggests hominids hunted in groups. In southwestern France, they herded  hundreds of bison to their death by steering them into a sinkhole. Another Neanderthal site yielded five woolly rhinoceroses at the base of a deep ravine, indicating that they could deploy complex hunting strategies.

 Tools: the myth that Neanderthals could not fashion tools using adhesives like humans is false. Neanderthals used a purified, distilled plant resin as an adhesive. Neanderthals also used string and cordage.

Adaptability: Neanderthals were able to adapt to a wide variety of ecological zones, and capable of developing highly functional tools within these zones in order to adapt.

Culture: Neanderthals exhibited traces of culture. At Neanderthal sites, researchers have uncovered ornaments and ocher, an earth pigment likely used for body painting. As for art itself, it is as yet unproven. Joao Zilhao, an anthropologist at the University of Barcelona, believes they did paint in the caves, with recent uranium dating in caves in the El Castillo region of Spain.

'Everything you know about the Neanderthal is wrong'.

Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post, June 2014

COMMENTS

 
Bradshaw FoundationAboutiShopBook ReviewSite MapMailing ListDonateFacebookTwitterContact
If you have enjoyed visiting this section of the website please consider adding a link
Bradshaw Foundation © MMXI
Homepage About the Foundation Contact Us Facebook News Articles Twitter List of Research Papers Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Travel Index About the Expeditions Forthcoming Expeditions Bespoke Expeditions Enquire Practical Information History of Exploration Welcome to the iShop Film Downloads DVD's Sculpture Prints Clothing Messenger Bag eBooks INORA Downloads About iLecture Films Shipping & Handling iLectures In Conversation Video Stories Travel Films Read the reviews Join the free Mailing List Bradshaw Foundation Facebook Friends of the Foundation Archive Index World's Oldest Rock Art Africa Documentary Films South Africa RARI Giraffe Carvings Niger Namibia Western Central Africa Africa Paintings Gallery Tanzania The Tuareg People Tuareg Salt Caravans Gilf Kebir Archive Index San Rock Art Paintings San Bushman San Rock Art Film Origins Centre Johannesburg Archive Index Arizona Baja California Coso Range Nevada Oregon Territory Australia Archive Index Introduction Bradshaw Paintings Kimberley Region The Unambal Hugh Brown Leif Thiele Gallery Dan Clark Grahame Walsh Ian Wilson Bradshaws / Gwion Gwion Archive Index Introduction Origins of the British Stonehenge Sounds of Stonehenge The British Museum British Isles Megaliths Gower Peninsula Rock Art Mendip Hills Prehistory Northumberland Rock Art Red Lady of Paviland Stone Age Mammoth Abattoir Archive Index Yinchuan Museum Rock Art Festival Field Trip Gallery Itinerant Creeds Inner Mongolia & Ningxia Vanishing Civilization Life in Rock Art (PDF) Tibet Tibet Photographs Dazu Rock Carvings Tiger Motif Archive Index Chauvet Cave Lascaux Cave Niaux Cave Cosquer Cave Portable Art Research Paper Tuc d'Audoubert Bison Dr. Jean Clottes Index UNESCO World Heritage Introduction Cave Paintings Gallery Visiting the Chauvet Cave Return to Chauvet Cave Investigating the Cave Venus & Sorcerer Werner Herzog Film Chauvet Publications India Archive Index Rock Art Central India Pachmarhi Hills India Rock Art Gallery Middle East Archive Index Middle East Inroduction Rock Art of Iran Rock Art of Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Rock Art Ancient Geometry Middle East Colonisation Tanum Rock Art Museum Thor Heyerdahl Archive Index Introduction America's Oldest Art? Pedra Furada Bolivian Rock Art Campeche Island - Brazil Checta Petroglyphs - Peru Cueva de las Manos Santa Catarina Island - Brazil Rock Art in Britain Campeche Rock Art Petroglyphs El Salvador - Corinto Cave Hand Rock Art Paintings Tibetan Rock Art United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan Yinchuan Rock Art Museum Introduction Ice Age Art Gallery Claire Artemyz Jill Cook Interview Cycladic Introduction Cycladic Gallery Introduction Geometric Signs Chart Research Methodology Geometric Signs in France Sign Types/Countries/Regions Bibliography Ancient Symbols in Rock Art Newsletter Archive Download Issues Introduction Genetic Map Professor Stephen Oppenheimer Further Reading Origins of the British BBC Documentary Origins Index Origins Overview 13 Big Questions Stanley Ambrose Homo Floresiensis Herto Skulls Homo Dmanisi Liujiang Skull Introduction Sentinels in Stone Easter Island Rock Art Birdman Cult / Motif Sea & Marine Creatures Design & Motifs Dr Georgia Lee Easter Island Map Contemporary Art Glossary Conclusion Thor Heyerdahl Introduction When & Who Built It? How Was It Built? The Area Sounds of Stonehenge Meaning of a Pyramid Pyramid Studies Pyramid Superstructure Pyramid Substructure Pyramid Preparations Pyramid Building Saqqara Nabil Swelim Temples of Malta and Gozo Research in the Caucasus The Keselo Foundation Homo Dmanisi Ancient Toolmakers Index Introduction Descent into the Cave The Decorated Caves Shamanistic Experience Spring Initiation Rites Summary Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Professor John P. Miller Motif: Eternal Index Han Meilin Bruce Radke Christian Tuki Gordon Ellis-Brown Site Map Search the Website Glossary of Terms & Definition Podcast on iTunes Other Websites Contact the Foundation