Neanderthals: Biology and Culture

Neanderthals: Biology and Culture

Neanderthals have all too often been portrayed as brutish peoples, much of it based on descriptions of an arthritic specimen. We now know that they possessed many of the cultural attributes today’s humans possess: the ability to make and use tools that were sophisticated at the time, evidence of compassion, and even to—seemingly—mourn the dead.

Based on lectures, readings in Stein and Rowe et al. Physical Anthropology. (Chapter 14) and viewing Neanderthals on Trial , and Decoding Neanderthals, both in You Tube, please answer the following questions. (Total value: 70 points; due date, May 17.).

  1. Could Homo neanderthalensis have interbred with Homo sapiens? Defend your answer. Use evidence from Neanderthal on Trial and Decoding Neanderthals and readings in Chapter 14. Include in your discussion the DNA evidence discussed on p.344 and p. 368 in Ch. 14 As usual, rely on your lecture notes as well. (20 points)
  1. Based on both your readings and the video, describe the toolmaking abilities of Homo neanderthalensis. Review both the videos and Stein and Rowe’s Ch. 14 for your answer.. Don’t take either as gospel truth. Be aware that how well you argue your case is more important than any “correct” answer. (15 points)
  1. Continuing from question 2, how did the toolmaking abilities of H. neanderthalensis compare with that of modern H. sapiens? For example, could the former have made blades or other tools finer than the Mousterian tradition? Include the Châtelperronian on p. 377 in your discussion. (15 points)
  1. Finally, what other behaviors can we determine from the evidence. Was Neanderthal compassionate? Did she/he have a language? Discuss your available evidence, especially on pp. 228-231 and pp. 344-357 and in Decoding Neanderthals.. (20 points)

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