17 comments on “Were Neanderthals Religious?

  1. I agree and think so too. You know as well as I do that domestic canines and even some Primates have a sense of morality and maybe even feel a sense of condolences and loss for a member that was lost from the group.

    I think Neanderthals at least had beliefs of Animism and a connection and appreciation of the natural resources around them. We know Animism continued on as an ideal and still exists today.

    I have, and maybe you have also, observed Dogs morn the loss of another member of the family whether it be a human or another dog. So why would early man not have at least this same basic sense of loyalty and loss also?

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  2. I have had dogs all my life and you are absolutely correct. And certainly Neanderthals would have had at least some sense of morality. In fact I’ll share something with you that I’ve now observed for a long while……

    I notice that those people whom I see the most Neanderthal-like traits in tend to be the most gentle of people, the most caring, and some of the most down-to-earth religious/spiritual people I know. I could say based on physical appearance they they would be brutish but in fact just the opposite is true. We are SLOWLY discovering that we have been very WRONG in our theories about Neanderthals and I suspect as more discoveries are made we will find out we’ve even been MORE wrong.


  3. I agree, I have noticed this myself among my own friends. May I put in a request for an “Ancient religion or spirituality” Category on here Roberto? This is one topic I am fascinated with and it would be super cool to have a spot especially for this.


  4. Elephants too express emotions and loss when they encounter the body of a former herd-mate. they even have a rite of passage ritual when they find the bones. they disperse the bones over a broad distance with the skull being the last to be dispersed. The matriarch has been seen doing this final rite. I saw a show about the American bison, and how it was thought to be extinct, until a small herd was found in a remote part of Yellowstone park. because they are so reduced in numbers they may still go extinct. much of the bison meat in the store is crossed with beef to make them easier to manage on the ranch. others are bred dumb ones to dumb ones creating fluffy beef. there were 2 ranchers that wanted bison, not easy to manage dumb animals. one rancher treated his herd like bison, tore down all the fences and i got the impression he didn’t worry about predators either. he said that when he harvests an animal he doesn’t take his biggest, strongest animals, he takes the subordinates, leaving the strongest to survive. when he does harvest an animal, after he shoots them dropping them where they stand, he backs off for a little while. he has observed how each of the other bison will walk up to the dead herd-mate and give it a nudge with their head as if to say some final farewell. after each animal does this they pack up and move away a bit, then in unison they all will turn and look back one last time then move off. he then harvest the animal. he said that it costs more to do it this way, but his customers don’t seem to mind, besides it is the right thing to do!

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  5. Morning Randolf! Having been raised on a Ranch I have seen Cattle do this exact same thing too! I have also watched the complicated time consuming process of another Cow adopting a Calf when a nursing Cow happens to die of Natural causes or is struck by a vehicle. Basic animal instincts are amazing sometimes!

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  6. Pronghorn antelope do the same thing. I was amazed the first time I saw them do this. Yes, it is as if they are in mourning and this is their last goodbye. I think we greatly underestimate animals in general. We like to think they really don’t have emotions (if you have dogs or cats like me you know this is not true), have no spirit, etc. I think just the opposite is true frankly.


  7. Incredible. It would be hard to observe this in Deer or Elk because they are so flighty and not really big on being herd animals. I have never taken a Pronghorn or tried it. Other Hunters have shared the best way to prepare it though. They say to build a big fire and let it burn down to coals. Throw the Antelope on the coals and cook several hours turning now and then. When you think it is done remove the Antelope and throw it away and eat the Coals. lol

    I have serious problems believing that early Man did not have at least these basic instincts of Bonding and Nurturing. I know they understood it meant their very survival as a species! They had to be at least as smart as a Pronghorn, Elephant or a Cow!


  8. Pronghorn is good! Cook it in a pit slowly and it tastes great. I do fully believe early man had these basic instincts of bonding and nurturing. We have them today and they came from somewhere. If early man did not bond he would not have survived living in harsh environments. Group/tribal bonding and nurturing are the way he survived I believe and I believe these instincts are innate. Sadly, our ancient human ancestors are often portrayed as “apeish” and “brutal” but I don’t think this was the case most of the time. Sure humans fought as we still fight today. But I think they knew that their chances of survival were greatly increased via bonding and nurturing. Further, I believe our ancient human ancestors were intelligent and if they weren’t then someone needs to explain to me just how Homo erectus came out of Africa and settled the world, basically (this according to the OOA theory). I really don’t think this species was composed of rogue loners who were brutish and animalistic. This species developed a whole new stone tool industry. Early H. erectus used the Oldowan tools used by H. habilis and then developed the Acheulean stone tool industry which was more sophisticated than Oldowan tools. How did he do this if he was a mere brutish unintelligent animal?

    Another great example are the Neanderthals. The more we discover about this species the more we realize how WRONG we were about them. I’m glad to see this species finally beginning to take its rightful place among ancient human ancestors. We are finding they were not the brutish animalistic “cave men” we once thought they were but, in fact, they were rather intelligent and sophisticated. They absolutely had to have been to survive in some of the environments they lived in otherwise they would have perished quickly.

    Survival is driven by intelligence among other things. It’s not simply the strong that survive but it the strong and intelligent that survive. Sorry but to put it bluntly the weak and dumb die and we see this over and over in the animal kingdoms too.

    That all said, I think we often don’t give our ancestors or other creatures we share this earth with credit enough and I think it comes from our overblown egos. We like to think we are the top of the food chain but go out into nature and encounter something like a mountain lion, rattle snake, or jaguar and you’ll quickly find out you are NOT at the top of the food chain. What a blow to the ego!! πŸ™‚ I ancestors knew this and, sadly, most of us do not. We live in a self delusion much of the time seeing ourselves as so, so superior yet we can’t erect something like the pyramids or some of the other great monoliths our ancients built. No ancient aliens didn’t swoop down from the sky and build these thing m MAN DID and we’d realize that fully if we gave our ancestors more credit. In our egotism we greatly overestimate ourselves and we greatly underestimate our ancient ones! It’s time to set the record straight and see the truth IMO. If it were not for our ancestors then none of us would be here today. Our species would have perished into oblivion like so many others. Our ancestors survived great floods, great ice ages, famines, wars, harsh environments, great earth changes and survived. They didn’t do that without intelligence and they didn’t do that alone. They bonded with each other and formed tribes and later communities.


  9. I will have to try Antelope! I just never hunted these because of the amount of Meat. I have always hunted for Meat rather than Sport. And the amount of meat on an Antelope just hasn’t warranted me wanting to take one yet I guess. πŸ™‚

    I Think another big factor in Early man was besides intelligence was Spirituality. Like you say, I think they were much more in tune with their surroundings than modern man. If it worked for nature, it worked for them too.

    I have to confess that until I started talking to you Roberto the idea of possible Oldowan tools never came to mind for me, even after all these years of artifact discovery. It just never crossed my mind to even keep an eye out for these.

    I may have looked at several laying on the ground over the years but was Blind to the possibility so I never would have recognized them for what they were. Back to perspective again. I just sent you an email reply about an “out of place” experience I once had.

    If it had not been for a “plains Indian” friend I would have walked over something many times and never saw it even though it was right under my feet. We need to stop Blinding ourselves with preset parameters, then maybe we will see things more clearly! πŸ™‚

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  10. We’ve been conditioned to think a certain way and that affects our perception. Several people in the Americas have claimed to found what appear to be Oldowan tools but it is all ignored because the mainstream says prehistoric ancestors like H. habilis and H. erectus were not here. This connects to a comment made recently by Randolph asking why the mainstream always shows the continents in about the same position they are in today. Good question! How are we so sure they weren’t closer together not so long ago? How do we know they weren’t completely rearranged from what they are today? How do we know land masses (other continents) didn’t sink not long ago? I don’t think we do or that we are 100% certain.

    When we think of H. erectus migrating out of Africa as the mainstream postulates we think he walked across the land that look pretty much like today. What if that was not the case? What if there were other landmasses and/or the current ones were closer together or all mixed up from what we see today? Then that puts a new light on all of it.

    Of course the question is always, “If H. erectus was in the Americas then why don’t we find any evidence.” First answer is “who’s looking?”. Second answer is, “Why did Leakey come looking and so convinced he’d find hominid remains in the Americas just like he found in Africa?”. Their answer is people who have found artifacts that MIGHT be from such species as H. erectus are ignored, marginalized, vilified, etc.

    And here’s the million dollar question…..how much do we miss due to our limited and conditioned perceptions? I would imagine a lot. Evidence of things may be right in front of our eyes but we don’t see it because our perception blinds us, as you say. And your absolutely right.


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