Culture of Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis Term Paper

Pages: 15 (5339 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 16  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Evolution

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There are elements of both cultures evident both physically and in the items that they made.

In dispute of Flemming's statement that the two cultures lived side by side and clearly shared tools and culture, but never interbred can be disputed by the existence of transitional skulls. The only better evidence that we could have would be to find a family, one parent HSN, one parent HSS, and a child that showed physical characteristics of both. However, to date, this type of find has not been discovered and this leaves Flemming's argument a little bit of hope.

The discovery of Tautavel man at Arago, France in 1971 has been classified as both H. Erectus and H. heidelbergensis. Petrolona is perhaps one of the most controversial archaeological sites in existence. It is the subject of many political and scientific debates. The primary reason for the controversy is the question of whether to open the caves to visitors (Henneberg, 1988). The caves in Petralona, Greece are classified as having a mixture of traits as well. They are both H. erectus and H. neanderthalensis. The brain size is 1220cc which is large for H. erectus, but small for H. neanderthalensis (Henneberg, 1988). These physical characteristics cannot be explained unless the species in question interbred at some time. If both never interbred and continued to evolve as separate species, then one would see a divergence of characteristics, not the clear combination that is seen in these examples, and many others.

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At St. Cesaire Cro-Magnon remains were found in the same strata, and very close to the Neanderthal find.

Term Paper on Culture of Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis Assignment

This site is also important in the respect that it was a formal burial with tool huddled around the body (Froelich, 2001). This means that not only were Neanderthals and HSS interbreeding to form new species, there may also have been some mixing of the Cro-Magnon as well. Flemming's statements seem to be contradicted by the archeological evidence that exists. In addition, the finds are more consistent with the soft replacement for the extinction of the Neanderthal species. One simply does not find the evidence that would suggest the rapid and violent extermination of the Neanderthals. It is more likely, based on the existence of these transitional artifacts and skulls that the modern human species is the result of the intermixing of the species of the time.

Changes in Mousterian Tool Usage

Mousterian tools were a more advanced method of manufacturing tools for a variety of purposes. Moustereian tools were an advance over previous forms as them were flaked from a piece of stone, as opposed o ground down from a single piece of stone. Towards the end of Neanderthan society these tools become quite advanced as compared to earlier forms of tools.

Prior to the advance and cultural mixture that resulted from the HSN coming into contact with the HSS species, Neanderthal tools were making advances and becoming more technologically advanced. There are several theories that explain this, but are much too lengthy to include in this research. One of these theories suggests that these changes were a result of climatological and ecological changes that were occurring in their world and they needed to make a new type of tool to adapt. Other theories suggest that these changes were caused by physical changes in the cerebral cortex resulting in the ability to reason to solve the new problems that arose. These theories seem to lack physical evidence in support of either and it is not known why these technological advances were occurring. However, there is no dispute that they were occurring and Neanderthal man was becoming more complex.

After contact with the HSS species there seems to be a jump in the progress of the Neanderthal tool making skill. We also begin to see more usage of tools that are not necessary to the basics of life and more decorative in nature. There are several theories to explain this phenomenon. The first is that the Neanderthals simply imitated the more advanced Homo Sapiens and picked up the culture by mirroring. Let us examine this argument.

This theory would suggest that the Neanderthal society had very little capability and reasoning ability necessary to develop the tools themselves. Why would the Neanderthals simply adopt the ways of strangers? Did the Neanderthals recognize the ways of HSS as superior to their own? If they did recognize them as superior, how did they figure this out? If HSN did simply imitate the HSS tools then this still shows a higher level of reasoning than has previously been afforded to the Neanderthal society. If Neanderthal reasoning were on a level where they were only concerned with basic survival and had no concept of abstract thought and higher reasoning, why would they copy an art object, one with abstract meaning? If the advance in Neanderthal technology was a result of simply imitating the superior race, it still required the ability to recognize these ways as superior to their own, otherwise, they would have continued making tools in the old way.

The theory that the Neanderthals were inferior to the Homo sapiens and imitated the tool making abilities also would stand by Flemming's argument and Lieberman's 1971 theory that the Neanderthals were quite animalistic in nature as compared to the more advanced HSS species. Why then would the HSS species remain in close contact with HSN? Would they not treat them as we treat chimpanzees? One cannot imagine that a far superior HSS species would interbreed with a far inferior HSN mate. Physical evidence suggests that they did intermix and that they did have close contact. Therefore, we must reconsider our idea of the inferiority of the Neanderthal reasoning ability and culture to that of the HSS species. In order for them to interbreed, the species would have to have seen themselves as compatible and with enough similarities to breed. There no evidence to date that indicates that the superior HSS species forced the HSN species to breed, therefore we must consider it to be mutual among both groups.

The second theory concerning the rapid advance of the Neanderthal tool making ability after contact with the HSS species is that this came as a result of adaptations and changes that were gradual, and as a result of the mixing of the species. As the two species intermixed, the cortex enlarged, leading to greater reasoning ability and the development of abstract and symbolic thought. This is the more likely theory concerning artifacts and the development of the skull shape. The existence of transitional sites are consistent with what one would find in if this theory held true. Neanderthal culture slowly melted into the age of modern man. However early HSS culture has also melted into non-existence as well and from that standpoint we must decide where to draw the line between these highly advanced intermediary species and modern man.

Use of Symbolism in Neanderthan Middle East and Europe

Many different opinions have been expressed as to whether Neanderthal should be classified as man or a simply highly advanced mammal. David Wilcox expresses an opinion held by many, sometimes for religious reasons, that even though Neanderthal man had some of the elements of a spiritual culture, they lacked certain elements that would define them as an advanced spiritual culture (Wilcox, p. 92). Wilcox states that Neanderthals had no evidence of art, no ornaments, symbolism, or permanent settlements or trade (Wilcox, p. 92). This is a widely held popular opinion. However, archeological evidence suggests that these elements were present in Neanderthan culture and that Neanderthals did shoe evidence of the rudimentary beginnings of an advanced culture (Morton, 1998).

One of the key pieces of evidence I support of this is the necklace found at Arcy-sur-Cure in France, by Jean-Jaques Hublin and colleagues (1996, p. 224). The key argument surrounding this piece of jewelry was whether Neanderthals were the originators of the piece, whether they made it after contact with HSS and it is an imitation of the other culture, or whether they obtained it from trade with HSS. For some time after the find, the most popular opinion was that Neanderthal obtained it by imitation or trade. However, D'Errico (1998 p. 3, in Morton, 1998) disagrees with this opinion for several reasons. The first is that there is manufacturing evidence present at the level consistent with the find. D'Errico's most compelling argument is that this necklace is different than others found in other areas, on the same strata. If the necklace were an imitation, it would most than likely be at least similar to those found at HSS sites on the same strata. D'Errico points out the differences in manufacturing technique at this site, as compared to other sites of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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