For most of the 20th century, it was thought that our closely related ancestors of Eurasia, including the Neanderthals, were not able to express symbolic behaviours comparable to us, Homo sapiens.
New archaeological excavations are increasingly showing that the Neanderthals were capable of abstract thinking including the use of material items in advanced forms of communication. Highly symbolic acts, such as burying the deceased is now firmly attested for the Neanderthals, as is the use of colouring agents, the use of molluscan shells in adornment, the engraving of stones and bones, and the deliberate collection of eagle claws and feathers for bodily decoration.
Though this evidence remains rare, culturally distinctive artefacts in Neanderthal society are being unearthed in modern archaeological excavations. This is a lecture not to be missed, raising questions about the biological and cultural evolution of our ancestors and their interactions with the newcomers, Homo sapiens, who were spreading into Eurasia and across the world.
The Raymond Dart Lecture is an annual event hosted by Griffith’s Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution paying homage to one of Australia’s most celebrated palaeoanthropologist Raymond Dart.
This in-person event has now reached capacity. Please register to receive a recording of the event. This is not a live online event.