Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Did Neanderthals Bury Their Dead?

Image © Emmanuel Roudier, 2008
Sandgathe et al. take up this question in an article in early view in the Journal of Human Evolution entitled "The Roc de Marsal Neandertal child: A reassessment of its status as a deliberate burial".  The child from Roc de Marsal has been considered by many to be a deliberate burial. Sangathe and colleagues question the child's status as a burial on several grounds: the position of the body (on its stomach with partially flexed legs), the lack of distinctive burial objects (grave goods), among others.  They even argue that the hole the child was buried in was a natural depression, not a (cave)man-made grave pit.  I find their arguments fairly convincing....which makes me think critically about how quickly we are willing to attribute modern-human like behaviors to ancient human ancestors.

1 comment:

  1. We talked 'bout this with Emily back in Carsac and I remember thinking about Neanderthal's cultural tradition of coming with unusual burial disposals. "Let's put it that way, it looks pretty comfortable." "Really?" The drawing is perfectly painting this.

    For me, the most passionate thing about this site, especially after Harold Dibble's talk at ASU a few months ago, is the use/non-use of fire and the possibility of a natural fire, a giant wild fire caused by the, back then and still today, spooky crazy thunder storms in south-west France.