The Humanity of Neanderthals
“Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”
In 1957, a dead Neanderthal man was discovered with nine other skeletons in Shanidar Cave in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. This particular Neanderthal Man had serious injuries, probably inflicted by other people. Police are looking for a 50,000-year-old murderer.
Of course, I made the last sentence up – except for the 50,000 years, which was made up by the researchers, as I can find no experimental evidence for that age in the various academic reports.
Shanidar 1, as the unfortunate skeleton is called, was actually injured well before his death. Researchers have recently reviewed his “hospital records” and have concluded that growths in his ears would suggest that during his later years, he must have been profoundly deaf.
“More than his loss of a forearm, bad limp and other injuries, his deafness would have made him easy prey for the ubiquitous carnivores in his environment and dependent on other members of his social group for survival,” said Erik Trinkaus, one of the study’s co-authors.
Such researchers assume that Neanderthal Man was a hunter-gatherer. A deaf man, still living with other traumatic injuries, would not have been able to hunt. Therefore, the researchers assume that the man must have had caregivers, who looked after him.
“The debilities of Shanidar 1, and especially his hearing loss, thereby reinforce the basic humanity of these much maligned archaic humans, the Neanderthals,” said Trinkaus. And there lies the whole point. Neanderthals were not a form of subhuman. Not “archaic humans” – just descendants of Adam and Eve like you and me.
Prayer: Lord, You have made Your people in all shapes and sizes. We thank You for the variety of the human race; each individual welcome in Your sight when they repent and trust in You. Amen.
Ref: Trinkaus E, Villotte S (2017) External auditory exostoses and hearing loss in the Shanidar 1 Neandertal. PLoS ONE12(10): e0186684. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0186684. Image: Creative Commons Attribution, Share-Alike 3.0 Unported.
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