Re: Archaic H. sapiens???

Michael McBroom (
Tue, 07 Jan 1997 14:17:04 -0800

Bjorn Pedersen wrote:

> First, isn't the genus of neanderthalis known as Homo Sapiens
> Neanderthalis?

It depends on who you talk to. Some people believe it is a subspecies
of Homo sapiens, hence the Homo sapiens neanderthalensis
classification. Others believe it is too morphologically different, and
class it as Homo Neanderthalensis. I prefer the second classification.

> Back to language. I seem to remember that the neaderthal did bury
> their dead ceremonially, and this was what brought me to pose my
> original question whether this didn't show a very high level of
> abstraction in their communications. I wonder if it might not mean
> that they didn't only have an awareness of cause and effect, but that
> they had the capacity to build a mythology around it. Putting objects
> in a grave tends to strongly indicate that they believed that there
> was an afterlife in which the dead person would have a use for the
> objects that was sent with him.

The evidence regarding Neanderthal burial rituals is still
controversial, thus, it is difficult to say just what it all means. Ian
Tattersall, in his book, _The Last Neanderthal_ (1995), discusses
Neanderthal burials somewhat. He states that there is really no clear
evidence of Neanderthal burial rituals. Even the famous Shanidar
"flower burial" is not free from dispute. There is a marked contrast,
however, between contemporaneous Neanderthal and H. sapiens burials.
While Neanderthal burials tend to be simple, almost casual, H. sapiens
burials were often quite elaborate (Tattersall, 1995: 165-170).


Michael McBroom
CSUF Linguistics