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Cannibalism among late Neanderthals in northern Europe

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posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 08:42 PM
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There has been a lot of back and forth about whether Neanderthal practiced cannibalism, a late Neanderthal site at Goyet cave shows they did practice cannibalism.


Neanderthal bones from an excavation in Belgium have yielded evidence of intentional butchering. The findings, from the Goyet caves near Namur, are the first evidence of cannibalism among Neanderthals north of the Alps. The skeletal remains were radiocarbon-dated to an age of around 40,500 to 45,500 years. Remarkably, this group of late Neanderthals also used the bones of their kind as tools, which were used to shape other tools of stone.

Professors Hervé Bocherens and Johannes Krause of Tübingen's Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment, along with Cosimo Posth and Christoph Wissing, also of the University of Tübingen, took part in the investigations. A review of the finds from the Troisième caverne of Goyet combined results from various disciplines; it identified 99 previously uncertain bone fragments as Neanderthal bones. That means Goyet has yielded the greatest amount of Neanderthal remains north of the Alps.


The evidence at goyet clearly shows that , this group
at least, did practice nutritional cannibalism.

Some Neanderthal remains from Goyet have been worked by human hands, as evidenced by cut marks, pits and notches. The researchers see this as an indication that the bodies from which they came were butchered. This appears to have been done thoroughly; the remains indicate processes of skinning, cutting up, and extraction of the bone marrow. "These indications allow us to assume that Neanderthals practised cannibalism," says Hervé Bocherens. But he adds that it is impossible to say whether the remains were butchered as part of some symbolic act, or whether the butchering was carried out simply for food. "The many remains of horses and reindeer found in Goyet were processed the same way," Bocherens says.


I'm sure people will wave their hands and proclaim this was ritualistic, but the cracking of the long bones and using bones as tools ,in the same fashion as game animals were used , in my mind clearly shows that this was not ritualistic.
So the big question is , was this intragroup or intergroup cannibalism? Were they eating their dead or were they hunting others.
Late Neanderthal cannibalism
On an interesting side note, Goyet is where the oldest dog rremains have been found.




posted on Jul, 8 2016 @ 09:40 PM
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I think they were likely enemies or other tribes they hunted but not their own wolf pack so to speak. I know there is evidence of them burying their dead with trinkets from one article I read. The movie Quest for Fire kinda touches on it. One of my favorite movies. One professor claimed they were kind of like a Model T and we are the Corvette. Pretty big gap but not that much so I doubt they ate their own family or close clan members.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 12:01 AM
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SPAM removed by admin
edit on Jul 15th 2016 by Djarums because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 12:02 AM
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The dogs ate them...



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 12:25 AM
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But dogs font make toolsa reply to: Astyanax



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 05:17 AM
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Homo sapiens also has been known to practice cannibalism. It would be no surprise if Neanderthal did also. Hell, monkeys and chimps do it. Meat is meat and a man's gotta eat.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 11:05 PM
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a reply to: punkinworks10

No, of course not. The Neanderthals cut them up and fed them to the dogs.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 11:06 PM
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originally posted by: Astyanax
a reply to: punkinworks10

No, of course not. The Neanderthals cut them up and fed them to the dogs.

Well that's much better than eating them themselves.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 11:12 PM
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a reply to: Phage

A horror story for you. I had a friend once who lived in a low, mean shack in the jungle, which he laughingly referred to as an ‘eco-resort’. Over a couple of years he accumulated a bunch of stray dogs. He liked them at first, then they grew to be an annoyance. It got so bad that one day he blew his cool and shot one of the dogs. Then he chopped it up, cooked it, fed it to the other dogs and then, while they were eating, shot them too. All of them. Dead.

'How did you feel afterwards?’ I asked him when he told me this.

‘Not very good,’ he replied.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 11:14 PM
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a reply to: Astyanax

I don't like that story.
And I know people who eat dog.



posted on Jul, 9 2016 @ 11:30 PM
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One interesting and telling aspect of this site , is that the Neanderthal there also buried the dead.
So, why would the bury some dead and dismember and eat others?
Leads me to think this was inter group cannibalism



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 12:22 AM
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a reply to: punkinworks10

It's difficult to discern whether or not this was purely nutritional or a strictly ritualistic cannibalism and it could have been a combination of ritual and nutritional. Using a recent example to provide context, the Fore people from Papua New Guinea practiced funerary cannibalism as both ritual and nutritional endeavors. They are famous for a massive outbreak of Kuru, a spongiform encephalopathy, that claimed at least 1100 lives from the late 50's through the late 60's. This doesn't mean there is an analogue between the Fore and late Neanderthal. I just though it important to note that it didn't have to be an 'either/or' scenario.

One thing I didn't see in the source material you cited was reference to the fact that genetic diversity was at an all time low across nearly all Neanderthal populations during the time period that this cannibalism took place. Neanderthal world wide were in decline and this is reflected in their decreased genetic diversity. I found their use of bone to craft tools to be rather interesting as I don't recall seeing this at any other Neanderthal sites. I'm inclined to agree with you though that there was likely a familial component to the act of cannibalizing but in my opinion this makes it more likely that this is an instance of funerary cannibalism.

The Neanderthal sites in Spain where we see cannibalism appear to be between unrelated individuals. This might be indicative of cultural and social differences between groups separated by large expanses of geography. I think it's important to keep in mind that looking at all Neanderthal or even just all European Neanderthal as one group sharing the exact same cultural and social concepts to be as equitable with thinking of all First People in the Americas as sharing the same exact cultural and social characteristics. In the Americas we see a great deal of diversity between groups who had only been here for at least 20 KA and possibly twice that long whereas Neanderthal in Europe had 100's of thousands of tears to establish their own distinct identities and traditions.

Even amongst some Professionals, I still see Neanderthal being referred to with broad generalizations and blanket statements and I feel this does a great disservice to both the people being studied and to those studying them. One of the benefits of increasing technological advances is that we have an ever increasing ability to detect and study details that were Unthinkable only a decade ago as evidenced by the MtDNA sequencing done on the cannibalized remains showing both their lack of genetic diversity and their close familial relationships. Thanks for posting this info. Hopefully this is something that will be of interest to people. Though I am a bit biased when it comes to these guys!



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 01:14 PM
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a reply to: peter vlar

peter v.
I was anxiously awaiting and greatly appreiciate your reply,
I think one of the most difficult aspects of anthropology is trying to piece together complex social constructs from bits and pieces of material culture and physical remains.
I agree that funerary cannibalism was practiced by may cultures in the past and still to this day by some remote people, and in a symbolic sense by nearly a billion catholics, but it is also clear that modern anthropologists are quick to put cannibalism in the ritual category, even when the evidence show that is not the case.
Cowboy wash is a good example, a family was killed, butchered, cooked and eaten, then the perpetrators, whom were not of the same genetic profile as the victims, smashed the the pottery and crapped in the dwelling before leaving, and it is still argued that it was not predatory cannibalism.
With respect to the neanderthal question, I believe that the ultra low diversity is a sign of long term social conventions that affected the european HSN population, so even though individuals may appear to be closely related, they might be from different groups.
What i would like to know is, what is the temporal relationship between the the "utilized" individuals and the whole body burials at Goyet, was one earlier than the other or were they contemporaneous? At many sites, HSN burials show a great bdeal of reverence for the dead, covered in flowers(Shanidar) or ochre or buried with an animal( a spanish burial of a youth with a wolf), but at Goyet they were cast aside just as the remains of other prey animals.
I have read a paper showing that northern european HSN had two different cultures, recognizable differences in tool construction shows a division in western northern europe.
This work also asks new questions about the creswellian "homo sapiens" site at Gough's cave, we see the same treatment of humans as food and then discarded as trash in the same middens as other prey. Also, creswellian lithics are very primative when compared to previous tool complexes, and when the skulls of the so-called "magdelenian" dwellers of gough's are described, they could very well be describing HSN skulls,

Madelenian man appears to have been of low stature, dolichocephalic, with low retreating forehead and prominent brow ridges.
Magdelenian, can you say hybrid?

And off the subject a little, last week while i was trying to sort and catalogue the collection of pdf's i have aquired I ran across a paper on very early skeltons from central mexico, and they described a set of skulls that had, sloping foreheads
extremely prominent brow ridges that had hollow spaces, does that not sound familar?



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 04:08 PM
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originally posted by: punkinworks10
I ran across a paper on very early skeltons from central mexico, and they described a set of skulls that had, sloping foreheads
extremely prominent brow ridges that had hollow spaces, does that not sound familar?


Did they also claim that the skull had a double row of teeth ?



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 05:30 PM
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originally posted by: Marduk

originally posted by: punkinworks10
I ran across a paper on very early skeltons from central mexico, and they described a set of skulls that had, sloping foreheads
extremely prominent brow ridges that had hollow spaces, does that not sound familar?


Did they also claim that the skull had a double row of teeth ?

Very funny Marduk,
No, they did not and is a serious paper published by a university research group.
In case you did not know the brow ridges of HSN are hollow, and modern indigenous people of central mexico have some of the highest levels of HSN dna.
I have spent the last hour looking for the paper, but cant find it.
when i download something on my mobile it assigns a file# to the file, and i ran across it looking for something else and didn't re title it, I will find it though



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 06:01 PM
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originally posted by: punkinworks10

originally posted by: Marduk

originally posted by: punkinworks10
I ran across a paper on very early skeltons from central mexico, and they described a set of skulls that had, sloping foreheads
extremely prominent brow ridges that had hollow spaces, does that not sound familar?


Did they also claim that the skull had a double row of teeth ?

Very funny Marduk,
No, they did not and is a serious paper published by a university research group.
In case you did not know the brow ridges of HSN are hollow, and modern indigenous people of central mexico have some of the highest levels of HSN dna.
I have spent the last hour looking for the paper, but cant find it.
when i download something on my mobile it assigns a file# to the file, and i ran across it looking for something else and didn't re title it, I will find it though



The only reference I could find was from a 1907 religious paper and also claimed double row of teeth, which is usually shorthand for "not examined by anyone qualified", Did I make a funny ?



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 07:48 PM
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a reply to: Marduk
This group was maybe either from Berkeley or Texas A&M, don't rembember right off the top of my head.
At any rate I have almost 1400 papers and articles on pdf, and about 2/3 have random file # names, and that's just on my laptop , there are a few hundred on my phone and another cache on my workstation at the office.
I will eventually find that paper, I will.
And I believe that the Smithsonian Museum of natural history has a cast of one of the skulls in its display of skull casts from australopithicines to very recent homo sapiens.
I spent more than an hour examining the display, and I'll have to say the skull from central Mexico, 10-12 kya, has some very archaic traits, the exceptionally large brow ridges and a very pronounced sagiteel crest, in fact it's the only anatomically modern human skull in the display that has one. The interesting thing is it's small overall size compared to others , archaic or modern, and these people also represent by Penon woman, were very small in stature, she was only 4'6"? tall.
If you ever get a chance to visit Washington DC , that display and display of reconstructed ancient faces , which are displayed at the appropriate height for the living individuals, is alone worth the visit to the museum.



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 08:02 PM
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a reply to: punkinworks10

I really hate revisionist history. Why is it so hard to accept that some of our ancestors killed and ate each other?



posted on Jul, 10 2016 @ 08:05 PM
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originally posted by: Phage
a reply to: Astyanax

I don't like that story.
And I know people who eat dog.


I doesn't taste that bad. Some people eat head cheese.



posted on Jul, 11 2016 @ 10:15 AM
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originally posted by: Marduk

originally posted by: punkinworks10

originally posted by: Marduk

originally posted by: punkinworks10
I ran across a paper on very early skeltons from central mexico, and they described a set of skulls that had, sloping foreheads
extremely prominent brow ridges that had hollow spaces, does that not sound familar?


Did they also claim that the skull had a double row of teeth ?

Very funny Marduk,
No, they did not and is a serious paper published by a university research group.
In case you did not know the brow ridges of HSN are hollow, and modern indigenous people of central mexico have some of the highest levels of HSN dna.
I have spent the last hour looking for the paper, but cant find it.
when i download something on my mobile it assigns a file# to the file, and i ran across it looking for something else and didn't re title it, I will find it though



The only reference I could find was from a 1907 religious paper and also claimed double row of teeth, which is usually shorthand for "not examined by anyone qualified", Did I make a funny ?


Found it




The human remains are thought to be of late-Pleistocene age based on faunal
correlation. Many have been in Solórzano’s possession for some time; others were recently
collected. Like associated fauna, all are mineralized, dark in color, and fragmentary. We have a
focus on their origins and will work to establish exact field proveniences in May 2000.
The Chapala bones (n = 10) have a MNI of three, based on two left superciliary arches
(brow ridges) and a deciduous incisor. The super border of each brow is blunt, implying the sex
was male in both cases. However, size variations of other fragments suggest males and females
are represented. The deciduous incisor is from a three-year-old; the rest represent young adults.
One Chapala superciliary arch deserves specific mention due to its large size. Studies by
Solórzano show the bone resembles that in archaic Homo sapiens at Arago, France. In an
unpublished 1990 report, Texas A&M osteologists suggest the brow’s thickness and robustness
are comparable to those of KNM-ER 3733 (African Homo erectus). Our measurements show the
central torus thickness is 13.3, compared with 8.5 mm for KNM-ER 3733; the lateral torus
thickness is 11.5 versus 9.0 mm (Rightmire 1998). Thus for the sake of comparison, the brow is
more like that of Zhoukoudian Skull XI (Asian Homo erectus), with a central torus thickness of
13.2 +/- mm; lateral torus thickness was not measured (Rightmire 1998). Modern brows are too
diminutive to allow these measurements. The brow also shows pneumatization (air pockets)
along its length.

However, to reiterate the findings of the Texas A&M workers, these comparisons do not
imply that pre-Homo sapiens were in the Americas. No phylogenetic or age implications are
intended. Instead, the comparisons demonstrate the size relative to most New World specimens,
although brows on the Lagoa Santa skull (Bryan 1978) and on recent Tierra del Fuego and
Patagonia crania (Lahr 1995; C.L. Brace pers. comm. 1998) appear comparable.

Although the researchers shy away from claiming these people were archaics, there are other sites, one here in my own county that have remains with similar attributes, namely the Tranquility burials at 8kya, that were studied in the '60's by J. L. Angel.

Solarzano, Chapala skulls

From Angel's paper

The least certain conclusion concerns evolutionary
selective pressures resulting from a tough meat diet
and hard living conditions leading to a short lifespan.
These pressures would put a high premium on the
fertility of a few women, especially those having
massive teeth to resist wear (cf. Brace, 1962). Possibly
Mongoloid features are a result of such pressures.
The source for this extra tooth and face size not yet
fully developed in late Pleistocene East Asia might be a
recombination of genes from a tropical Negritoid
population (contributing canine plus incisor breadth
and prognathism) with genes from Sinanthropus
descendants like Mapa (Woo, 1959 b; Coon, 1962)
contributing shovel incisors and face massiveness, and
perhaps also with Upper Paleolithic "White" genes.
Evolution from such a proto-Mongoloid blend in a
Mongoloid direction would have occurred in both
Asia and America after 20,000 B.C. Apparently this
evolution went much further in Asia.


Tranquility burials



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