How advanced were the Neanderthals?

I’ve always found the idea of Neanderthals quite sad.

These intelligent, sentient beings live their lives in their lands, and are then wiped out by people from the South, either by actual warfare, cannibalism, or competition. The only trace of them is a few genes floating in modern humans.

I’ve always thought that it would be nice to have another species to see the world with, to have another viewpoint to bounce ideas off.

Anyway, I was wondering a few things.

(1) What technology level were the Neanderthals?
(2) Did they have villages/cities or were they all nomadic?
(3) Did they have warfare?

and separately
(4) Is it true that we may have eaten them?
(5) When people say we interbred, is it rape, our larger numbers subsuming their population, or our males outcompeting their males?

I often wonder if the legends of the Tuatha Da Danaan don’t refer to the Neanderthals.

And I think our females out competed theirs. :wink: Remember, the Neanderthals were slightly shorter, but more powerfully built, and had a larger brain size in comparison to their body weight. (Although this as a measure of intelligence is being questioned now, I understand.) So I think among my friends at least, a Neanderthal probably wouldn’t do too badly. . .

This article raises the possibility of humans eating neanderthals.

I suspect they tasted just like chicken. :wink:

  1. Stone Age Hunter-Gatherers, which was as far as H. Sapiens had gotten at the time too. We didn’t start farming until the Neolithic (around 9500 BCE) and the Neanderthals were all gone by then.

  2. Nomadic or Semi-Nomadic at best. H. Sapiens would have been the same, so they weren’t lagging behind here. No agricluture makes it hard to start permanent settlements.

  3. As tool using socially complex Homids the answer is probably yes. Bones have been found with marks indicating healed injuries caused by weapons. There’s no reason to think that they didn’t fight among themselves just as much as humans do.

4 and 5. The decline of the Neanderthals and their replacement with H. Sapiens took around 10,000-20,000 years, so the answer to all of those is probably yes. Given the large time scale and the complete lack of organization beyond small hunter-gatherer groups both sides probably did pretty much everything to each other eventually.

There’s evidence in some places of H. Sapiens setting up shop first and then the Neanderthals moving in second. It was probably a long series of skirmishes and displacement with the Neanderthals sometimes winning but clearly not often enough to win the war. Neither side would have been organized to have an all out war with campaigns and battle lines. It was just that overall interaction between the two groups left humans better off more often. So Tribe A may have eaten Neanderthals, while Tribe B decided to just chase them off and Tribe C invited them to join and later absorbed them completely.

Jared Diamond has argued that it was quicker and more comparable to an advanced culture meeting a less developed one. He thinks that disease may have played a larger role as well. I don’t know how popular that view is though. H. Sapiens certainly had better projectile weapons but fighting hand to hand would have given the advantage to the Neanderthals. I don’t know enough to judge how advanced that would have made H. Sapiens comparatively.

The newest research suggests that Neanderthals never truly died out. Instead, they hybridized with certain groups of Europeans and Neanderthal genes are still found with more frequency in some European populations than in sub-saharan Arfican ones. You may be able to answer part of your own question by looking in the mirror.

http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/2010/05/06/2010-05-06_neanderthal_genes_live_on_in_modern_humans.html

As for technology, they had stone tools, but did not seem to make tools out of materials like bone or ivory. They didn’t have fish hooks or atlatals (or however you spell that). There stone tools were like those made by modern humans about 100k years ago. We seem to have improved our technology significantly between then and when we entered the Neanderthal’s range.

There is some evidence that they adopted some of our technology after we encountered them. Whether that was copying us, our teaching them, we don’t know.

We’re supposedly advanced, but I often wonder how Neanderthal we are – especially at the office.

We shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals about 500k years ago.

One key behavioral difference that we’re able to see from the fossil record is that Neanderthals seem to have been much more specialized in their diet. About 90% of their diet was meat. We, on the other hand, have (and our ancestors had) a much more varied diet.

It’s also thought that they hunted with stabbing spears rather than with throwing spears. One anthropologist who analyzed the bone fracture pattern on Neanderthal fossils noted that they are similar to what you see in rodeo cowboys today. That seemed to indicate that they may have jumped on large prey animals to kill them.

We aren’t extinct, and we are more technologically advanced than you Sapiens. Most of the advances in human technology were either borrowed from us, or the result of the continued spread of our genes among your population. I admit we are somewhat attracted to your women, mainly because they are ‘easier’ and less discriminating.

I always thought there was something, how shall we say, “unique” about those folks in Rhode Island. :slight_smile:

Actually, I’m from there, too.

Well I was in Amsterdam recently and surprisingly it almost seemed like a first-world coun… oh.

Well, they’d have to be!

So, how’s the insurance business treating you?

I too read it like that at first. :smiley:

Anyone that has seen a unibrow knows the Neanderthal gene is active in our DNA.

Posting, so easy a caveman could do it!:smiley:

We’re making a fortune from those commercials, and the Gecko too. You humans are so easily amused.

There was a recent programme on TV about the decline of the Neanderthals. It demonstrated that while Homo Sapiens had well-established trade relationships - artefacts being found hundreds or thousands of miles from their sources - Homo Neanderthalensis did not. The concept of trade outside the group was alien to them.

I don’t believe this is so (the part about our ancestors’ diets being more varied). Up until the advent of agriculture, diets were pretty much limited to meat and whatever vegetation was handily growing nearby. If you’re talking after the beginning of agriculture, that’s different.

Neanderthals hunted for meat, but with hand axes. A lot of Neanderthal male bones show lots of trauma from this type of hunting style. It appears that Homo Sapiens had developed spears used for hunting. Maybe because they weren’t as big and strong as the Neanderthals, and didn’t want to charge up to Rhinos and Elephants armed with just a sharp rock, but that could have been Homo Sapiens’ advantage over the Neanderthals.

Our species seemed to have settled in South Africa, then somewhere between 50,000 to 75,000 years ago, broke out, and spread across Africa through the Middle East, into Asia, and then back in to Europe. Before we left South Africa, there were about a dozen species of Homo and Australopithecus around Africa and Asia. Where ever Sapiens traveled, the local species of Humanoid became extinct. Neanderthal was the last one.