Neanderthals: The New Excavation in Shanidar Cave


Neanderthals are an extinct species of ancient humans who lived in Eurasia about 40,000 years ago. They might have gone extinct due to competition with immigrating modern humans or due to a change in climatic conditions which brought deadly diseases to them, Comparison with advanced human beings has intrigued researchers to research about these Neanderthals deeply. Their efforts have not gone futile since they have made progress towards their research. Recently they have gone to an archaeological site, and they came with a case study on how these Neanderthals used to bury their dead.

Archaeological works, osteology, and dating of Neanderthal bones 

Osteology, the study of structure, functions of the skeleton, is conducted by these archaeologists to know more about the skeletal. Structure of these Neanderthals in terms of their shapes, sizes, and articulation. Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan is the site in the study. It is famous for Flower Burial. A Neanderthal skeleton was once found there with a mass of pollen that mixed with dirt. The researchers, as a funeral rite, understood this. However, disagreed as others said that an animal might be the one who deposited the pollen.

Work on this site started in 2014 but was slowed down because of Daesh’s activity. In 2016 the archaeologists found a rib bone, and in 2018 they found a skull crushed flat. They did most of the excavation in 2019, and new dating shows that the bones are 70000 years old.

Archaeological findings

Archeologists have found out that these Neanderthals are very intelligent. Opposed to the negative perception that they were animalistic and unsophisticated. They also found a new skeleton on the site and have named it Shanidar Z. Initially, they found ten remains, it is the first articulated Neanderthal skeleton to be excavated in 20 years, and the first one at this site marks remarkable progress in this research. The skeleton consisted of the ribs and spine (upper body part), and it was positioned in a sleeping manner with an outstanding stone which the archaeologists say it might be a marker of some sort.

The pose of this skeleton shows that it was buried thoughtfully, close similarity indicates that the Flower Burial skeleton was also buried in a way that the back is curved, the head is bowed, and the limbs are bent and drawn up to the torso. It was placed close to this Shanidar Z. These positions much support that they were buried deliberately.

“The new excavation suggests that some of these bodies were laid in a channel in the cave floor created by water, which had then been intentionally dug to make it deeper,”

said Graeme Barker of Cambridge University.

Conservation and Analysis of Neanderthal excavations

The skeleton is well preserved at Cambridge University, and more information is anticipated through thorough analysis. Some DNA is still available, which they will use it to get knowledge as to how these Neanderthals looked like and if they interbred with others. The site work will always be in progress. It is assumed that if these Neanderthals used Shanidar cave as a memory of the burial ritual, then they must have a very complicated culture and a way of life altogether.



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