The Neanderthals Rediscovered

How Modern Science is Rewriting Their Story



ISBN: 9780500051771 Category:

Dimitra Papagianni, Michael A. Morse


For too long, the Neanderthals have been seen as dim-witted evolutionary dead-enders with strange-looking heads. Now advances in DNA technologies have forced a reassessment of the Neanderthals’ place in our own past. The Neanderthals’ story has been transformed thanks to new discoveries and paradigm-shattering scientific innovations. It turns out that the Neanderthals’ behaviour was surprisingly modern. They buried the dead, cared for the sick, hunted large animals, harvested seafood, used red paint and spoke.

If Neanderthals were so advanced, what caused their extinction? This is just one of many mysteries that we are inching ever closer to solving. By looking at the full Neanderthal story, we can better address the biggest mystery of all: what it means to be human.

The authors take a new approach in order to make a fairer assessment of a species whose name is often used as a pejorative. They look at the Neanderthals through the full arc of their existence – from their evolution in Europe to their expansion to Siberia, their subsequent extinction (and ultimately to their revival in popular novels, cartoons, cult movies and TV commercials!). The superiority of Homo sapiens suddenly seems less obvious or inevitable. Neanderthals evolved in Europe very much in parallel to the Homo sapiens line evolving in Africa. When both species made their first forays into Asia, the Neanderthals may even have had the upper hand.

Additional information

Weight 598 g
Dimensions 16.2 x 24.1 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 12 August 2013
Number of pages 208
Format Hardback
Dimensions 16.2 x 24.1 cm
Weight 598 g

Michael A. Morse has a PhD in the history of science with a specialty in the history of British archaeology. He has written on a variety of subjects including the history of research into the ancient Celts, the rules of baseball and the Neanderthals.

Dimitra Papagianni trained as a Palaeolithic and stone tool specialist at Cambridge and wrote her PhD on the Neanderthal sites of northwestern Greece, the region where she was born. She has taught for the undergraduate, Masters and continuing education programs at Southampton, Cambridge, Oxford and Bath.