HARD TIMES AMONG THE NEANDERTHALS
Summary by DB
Robustisity is one of the most well-know characteristics of a Neanderthal. Author, Erik Trinkaus, takes us on a journey towards insight and narrows our scope of sight towards a specific subject. What was the bodily and actual physicality in the life of a Neanderthal both in terms of their biology and in their social and physical lives. It is evident, for whatever reason, that the Neanderthals , or at least those in which we have the remains of, truly did have hard times.
Humans have noticed such a large correlation between ourselves and Neanderthals, we now consider them to be in the genus Homo Sapien as well. No doubt, many today can look both into our past and even today and see the physically laborious tasks we handle and physical hardship and even pain which is inflicted upon many of us. The most noticeable difference, though, between us and Neanderthals is their robusticity and our gracile bodies. What is even more interesting to me is how much modern day humans are capable of when it comes to physical strength and even our dealings with physical labor and pain even though we are much more fragile. It could be like the saying: mind over matter.
Neanderthals evolved from humans about 100,000 years ago in Europe and a little further into Asia, but were replaced approximately 35,000 years ago by us during the period of time called the Middle Paleolithic. Why? How could these stocky, muscular people die out and Homo Sapien Sapien live. It makes me think long and hard about what does make us unique; socialism and community, communication skills, forethought, persistence, determination, and desire – to name a few. What, though, were the qualities in which Neandertals possessed? Research on Neanderthals now include both archeological data and analysis of fossils in order to reconstruct their behavior which has aided us in learning about them. The skeletons showed muscle and ligament attachments which were much larger and etched deeply into the bones. The tubular structure of their bones showed how much weight they could carry and how it would be dispersed throughout the bones without causing damage. It has been determined that the amount of muscle around the shoulders, trunk, and arms would have been ideal or applicable to powerful downward movements. Even a Neanderthals hands were massive and strong which is obvious by the bony crests in the hand bones and sized to be three times larger then modern human size. The massive bones do also show a significant amount of stress.
From the limb bones developmental stage it has been deduced that the Neanderthals were considerably active. These massive people’s remains show evidence of continual trauma and injury as well. The remains of several Neandertals named Shanidar (1-6) display various injuries including: a head wound, superficial cuts, scars, jajory blow to the body, fractures, a broken arm, an atrophied arm, and a collapssed eye socket. There is arthrities throught the bones. Violence is suggestive in these cases but among Neandertals not with the involvement of humans who lived for sometime in the same time and location. All these injuries point towards a very hard life. They were physical both biologically and in their daily lives but for what exact reason did such robust people have more injuries (if these bones are a consistent example of most Neanderthals) than modern humans? Through continued thorough examination and research we may someday have a more conclusive answer.
Many of these wounded people lived to an old age or, at least, the wounds did not lead to their demise which suggests, among other evidence (such as archeological information) that they were adequately taken care of. It is likely then in combination with evidence of ceremony and burials that they had compassion and/or value for one another and that they had a social network of a community .