Neanderthals: Bad-mouthed for being white?

Years ago, I used to read that Neanderthals were advanced creatures, capable of producing shirts and other clothes, even buttons and button-holes.

More recently, perhaps in tandem with television shows portraying white people in general and white males in particular as being stupid, ignorant creatures such as Archie Bunker, things seem to have changed, and Neanderthals were classed as dumb.

“Out of Africa” assumes that Blacks left Africa, defeated the Neanderthals and ‘created’ the white and yellow races, and yet the present sub-Saharan Africans never developed the ability to join two pieces of wood together, to build dwellings out of anything other than mud and plant materials, and never developed any form of civilisation worthy of mention.

The White race has walked on the Moon.

Something is wrong here, and I believe it is the “Out of Africa” story.

Jeff Goodall 

Neanderthals not so dumb when it came to fire: study

Toronto Star

Kenyon Wallace: March 16th, 2011 

We tend to think of them as lumbering, weak-minded brutes too stupid to ensure their own continued survival. 

But new research suggesting that Neanderthals had continuous control of fire is challenging the widely held opinion that our hairy ancestors were cognitively inferior to early modern humans.

By studying more than 100 ancient archeological sites in Europe, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and Leiden University in the Netherlands have discovered evidence that Neanderthals not only had fireplaces in their dwelling places, but were able to conserve fire, transport it and use it habitually.

“Many people believed that Neanderthals used small fireplaces but were unable to use fire in a systemic manner,” said Paola Villa, an archeologist at the University of Colorado Boulder and one of the authors of the study.

“What we have here is a record of many Neanderthal sites showing evidence of continuous use of fire over time. In other words, Neanderthals did not have to wait for lightning strikes or volcanic activity. They had the ability to make, conserve and transport fire during successive occupations or at different sites.”

For their study, appearing this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Villa and her colleague, Leiden University archeologist Wil Roebroeks, created a database of 141 potential fireplace sites discovered in Europe dating between 1.2 million years ago and 35,000 years ago.

The researchers then collated scores of archeological studies and reports on each site to identify 119 that had good evidence of sustained use of fire during the time period Neanderthals lived – roughly 400,000 to 35,000 years ago.

Each site was ranked with a confidence index, and required at least two indicators, such as burned bones, charcoal, and heated stone artifacts, before the researchers concluded there was solid evidence for the control of fire.

Neanderthals are an early hominid thought to have evolved in what is now known as Europe about 400,000 years ago during the Last Glacial age. Their extinction 30,000 years ago coincides with the arrival of the modern human out of Africa; there is an ongoing debate over whether the two species interbred.

Neanderthal remains have been found in most Western European nations, including Great Britain, as well as the Balkans, Ukraine and even western Russia. To date, no Neanderthal fossils have been found in Africa.

Villa said she was surprised to find evidence that Neanderthals had fire-management skills in sites ranging from Portugal and Spain in the east to Poland and Ukraine in the west.

“These sites cover the whole time span we were looking at,” she said.

Villa and Roebroeks made another unexpected finding during their research. It has been a long-held view amongst many archeologists that when ancestors of Neanderthals moved into Europe’s northern areas about 800,000 years ago, they must have had control of fire to survive the area’s colder climes.

“Most archeologists assumed that hominids moving or migrating from Africa into the colder climates of Europe had to invent fire to survive the rigors of winter,” said Villa. “In fact, the first person to mention the importance of fire to early humans was Darwin.”

But the authors say the evidence in their study suggests that the controlled use of fire didn’t emerge until Neanderthals came along.

“It is only much later, with the Neanderthals, that fire became an integral part of the technological repertoire of the human lineage,” they write in their study.

See original here.

See Wikipedia’s “Neanderthal extinction hypothesis” here.

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