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What Neanderthal jewelry means


We are offered five examples of talents, including sprinting, swimming, art, jewelry, and fires:

Eagle talons found at a Neanderthal site in Croatia displayed cut marks and wear patterns that suggest these were worn as jewellery; beads, shells and feathers that would have been threaded into necklaces have also been unearthed at other sites. David Frayer at the University of Kansas views this as clear evidence that Neanderthals made and wore personal ornaments, with no evident practical use.

Laura Potier, “The five: surprising talents of the Neanderthals” at The Guardian

It’s not just that the ornaments did not have a practical use. They probably expressed something. Eagle talons, for example, might imply something about the person who wore them, in the same way that a peace sign implies something about the wearer today. But it may have implied the opposite thing. It is, at any rate, evidence of a human mental life.

People did not always think about Neanderthals that way because in a Darwinian scheme, someone has to be the subhuman and it might as well be him.

See also: Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents

A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?

Was Neanderthal man fully human? The role racism played in assessing the evidence


In any Darwinian scheme, someone must be the subhuman. Otherwise, there is no beginning to human history.
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