The Neanderthals Rediscovered
How Modern Science is Rewriting Their Story
- ISBN 9780500051771
- 23.40 x 15.60 cm
- 77 Illustrations, 20 in colour
- First published 2013
‘A fresh, well-informed and highly recommended introduction to the Neanderthals and the scientists who study them. The inspired pairing of a Palaeolithic expert and a historian of science makes for compelling reading’ – Paul Pettitt, Professor of Archaeology, Durham University
‘If you thought you knew about the Neanderthals, think again.… Prepare to have your prejudices shattered and your understanding of humanity challenged’ Clive Gamble, Professor of Archaeology, University of Southampton
‘The first complete chronological narrative of the species from emergence to extinction…. a gem … a beautifully synthesized portrait of a powerful people’-Nature
For too long, the Neanderthals have been seen as dim-witted evolutionary dead-enders with strange-looking heads. Now advances in DNA technologies have forced a reassessment of the Neanderthals’ place in our own past.
The Neanderthals' story has been transformed thanks to new discoveries and paradigm-shattering scientific innovations. It turns out that the Neanderthals’ behaviour was surprisingly modern. They buried the dead, cared for the sick, hunted large animals, harvested seafood, used red paint and spoke.
If Neanderthals were so advanced, what caused their extinction? This is just one of many mysteries that we are inching ever closer to solving. By looking at the full Neanderthal story, we can better address the biggest mystery of all: what it means to be human.
The authors take a new approach in order to make a fairer assessment of a species whose name is often used as a pejorative. They look at the Neanderthals through the full arc of their existence – from their evolution in Europe to their expansion to Siberia, their subsequent extinction (and ultimately to their revival in popular novels, cartoons, cult movies and TV commercials!).
The superiority of Homo sapiens suddenly seems less obvious or inevitable. Neanderthals evolved in Europe very much in parallel to the Homo sapiens line evolving in Africa. When both species made their first forays into Asia, the Neanderthals may even have had the upper hand.
Dimitra Papagianni holds a PhD in archaeology from the University of Cambridge and was a British Academy Post-doctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of Southampton. She has taught courses on the Neanderthals at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Bath. She is the author of Middle Palaeolithic Occupation and Technology in Northwestern Greece and co-editor of Time and Change: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives on the Long-Term in Hunter-Gatherer Societies.
Michael A. Morse holds a PhD in the history of science from the University of Chicago. He is the author of How the Celts Came to Britain, selected as one of the Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year for 2005.