Neanderthal Sleeping Quarters

7 Aug 2010

At otherwise Discovery News, there is a description in juvenile terminology of the discovery of a separate space set aside in a cave in Cantabria with a makeshift bed. The tone of the piece probably reflects the fact the site is used by schoolchildren but the story itself comes straight out of the Journal of Archaeological Science where we learn that it is not necessarily a bedroom, as such, but a space in which people settled themselves around a fire in a hearth, on their haunches perhaps, or laid down to rest with the embers still burning - for obvious reasons. The fact that made news is that it is precisely the same kind of behaviour known to have been displayed by modern hunter gatherers - showing once again that Neanderthals were more developed than sometimes portrayed. The site has been dated between 53,000 and 39,000 years ago, and while the researchers list several reasons why the Neanderthals might have died out they also add they may have been absorbed into the modern human population - an idea not particularly popular at the moment as it contradicts the quasi political idea that all humans have a common ancestor in Africa in the not too recent past.