Sunday, 29 June 2008
Neanderthals Were More Advanced Than We Thought
Reconstruction of a Neanderthal girl. Christopher P.E. Zollikofer. Anthropological Institute, University of Zurich Image from Wikipedia.
The first Neanderthal skulls were found in 1829 and 1848 but the early remains went rather unnoticed. They got their name from a 1856 discovery in the Neander valley in Germany. They were assumed to be the remains of early men. The publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871) gave impetus for the search for links between modern man and less developed beings.
In evolutionary thinking, Neanderthal man was assumed to be a very primitive man, incapable of speech and higher culture. However, recent discoveries have shown that the Darwinian view is wrong. Neanderthals were culturally more advanced. They were able to speak, buried their dead, cleaned their teeth and even made musical instruments.
The latest confirmation of the Neanderthals’ cultural development comes from a dig in England. According to a recent item in BBC news, archaeologists have examined dozens of tools they believe were made by Neanderthals. When the tools were first found in Beedings in West Sussex, in 1900, they were thought to be too modern and thus assumed to be fakes. Most of them were thrown away.
Now archaeologists have re-examined some of the artifacts and concluded that they are genuine. The old view of semi-human, grunting Neanderthal men deserves to be buried.
McGourty, Christine. 2008. 'Neanderthal tools' found at dig. BBC news 23 June