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The Neanderthals rematch

An exhibition on the extinct human species becomes the phenomenon of the season in Paris

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The Neanderthals rematch

They disappeared from Earth at least 39,000 years ago, but time has come for ir rematch: Neanderthals have returned to stay. An exhibition on this human species, which lived in Europe for hundreds of thousands of years, has beaten records of visits in renovated museum of Man of Paris, while in French bookstores can be found all kinds of titles on our cousins more Close, whose extinction remains a mystery.

More information
  • Neanderthals, extinction of or humans
  • If Neanderthals disappeared, what are we doing here?

In last decade scientific news about m have multiplied and y all go in same direction: y are not by far as gross as we had imagined since, in middle of nineteenth century, skulls that corresponded to a human species began to appear. Close, but distinctly different from us, Homo sapiens. Now we know that we share a part of our genes with m — between 2 and 4%, perhaps more, which had a language, which were medicated, cared for sick and elderly, who managed a very advanced technology and, for a few months , thanks to new dates, which had built a symbolic thought, as y left geometric drawings in a few Spanish caves.

It has also been discovered that Neanderthals had habit of eating or Neanderthals, a matter treated without prejudice in exhibition, because cannibalism does not alienate m from only human species that has survived, ours, but brings m closer. It is a custom undoubtedly unpleasant, but very common in prehistory, wher for nutritional or ritual reasons, as eating an ancestor — not in vain one of most famous novels about remote past of man, journalist and Divulger Scientist Roy Lewis, it's titled Why I Ate My far (Editorial password) —. One of places where this has become clearer is in cave of El Sidrón, in Asturias, where remains of 13 Neanderthals appeared, all of m carefully devoured.

Showcase with different busts of Neanderthals, in Museum of Man. Nicolas Krief

"Because of multiplication of news, we realized that it was necessary to mount an exhibition to tell how we had changed our image of m," explains one of police stations of sample, Prehistorian Marylène Patou-Mathis, who for some Weeks is multiplied in French media. Just published Patou-Mathis, Neanderthal from A to Z (Allary éditions), one of titles that can be found in tables of novelties, next to catalogue of exhibition, co-edited by Gallimard, and or books like Neanderthal, Mon frère (Neanderthal, my bror), of Silvana Condemi and François Savatier, who won prize for best archaeology essay of 2017, or Qui a tué Neanderthal? (Who killed Neanderthal?), by Éric Pincas, turned into a documentary, premiered this week in chain France 5.

The star of sample stems precisely from science, from current ability to accurately recreate morphology from skeletal remains. Kinga, to which we know in last room of exhibition, is a Neanderthal of one meter fifty, rebuilt by Élisabeth Daynès, an artist who started in atre and who later has worked in projects like replica of Cave of Lascaux, in south of France. Kinga answers old question of what would we think if we we find a Neanderthal on subway.

Reconstruction of a Neanderthal by Élisabeth Daynès. S. Entressagle Kinga, a Neanderthal dressed by Agnes B

In this case, dressed by Agnes B, with a women's magazine in her hand, this young Neanderthal shows a wide smile, a redheaded mane, big, clear eyes and a very white face, full of freckles — don't forget that Neanderthals are a species that It evolved in Europe: y had tremendously white complexion, we, instead, Sapiens, came from Africa and our complexion was dark. He is a very close person, but different, because Neanderthals had, for example, a much larger nose and forehead backwards. Asked about it by a French radio that was doing a report on exhibition, a girl smiled and said, "not ugly."

"If Neanderthal is already recognized by scientific community as representative of a complete humanity, its image among public remains negative. It is still perceived many times as a primitive infrahombre, like a brute ", write in introduction of catalogue two Commissioners, Mathou-Pathis and Pascal Depaepe. Behind image of Kinga, a phrase of great French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, taken from his classic book The Wild Thought, summarizes what y have tried to convey to visitors during journey: "There are no primitive civilizations, nor More evolved civilizations: There are only different answers to identical and fundamental problems. "


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