Re: Archaic H. sapiens???

Bjorn Pedersen (
Tue, 07 Jan 1997 16:53:48 GMT

On Mon, 06 Jan 1997 18:54:30 -0500, Michael McBroom
<> wrote:

> This is an excellent question, and goes to the enigma that Neanderthal
> has come to represent. It may be that Neanderthal buried his dead for
> purely practical concerns, such as keeping scavengers away from their
> areas of habitation, or to reduce the odor.

If it was purely a practical issue - then why not just drag away the
body from the habitat and let the carrions have it? It would remove
the stench, and it would lure the animals away from the caves?

> There is some evidence, however -- I believe the remains found at
> Shanidar is one example -- for ceremonial burial. Flower pollen found
> in situ, the arrangement of the bodies, etc. If we assume that
> Neanderthal did have respect for the dead, and I believe he did, then,
> yes, this most definitely argues for some form of advanced communicative
> abilities. At a minimum, it seems to me that it would demonstrate
> abstract referential capabilities that include an awareness of the past
> and anticipation of the future. (It can be argued that burial rituals
> show both a respect for the memories of the dead as well as an
> anticipation of the consequences if the body is not buried. This not
> only demonstrates an awareness of past and present, but also an
> awareness of cause and effect.)

First, isn't the genus of neanderthalis known as Homo Sapiens
Neanderthalis? I may be wrong about this... paleoanthropology is not
something I have had the opportunity of studying more closely. I've
read a few books by a Richard Leakey, though.

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.

If they had the capacity to build a mythology - the language, it seems
to me, must have been very advanced. Without wanting to offer any
theories - I'm not competent enough for that - I wonder if their
language might not have been nearly as involved as our, only in
different ways. I mean, deaf people has the sign language which is as
abstract as the spoken language, and in practice the deaf people has
no use for vocal tracts and such.

In some hunting situation I could imagine that a language of signs and
gestures would be preferable to a spoken one.

Take Care Now,