Did Neanderthals Sing and Dance?

Posted on June 12, 2006

Singing NeanderthalsWhere the Neanderthals a musical culture? That's the theory presented by Steven Mithen in his book, The Singing Neanderthals. Reuters explained Mithen's theory of musical Neanderthals in a recent article.
It was a dark and stormy night, and in a cave in what is now southern France, Neanderthals were singing, dancing and tapping on stalagmites with their fingernails to pass the time.

Did this Ice Age rave-up happen, perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, on a cold night in the Pleistocene Epoch? Or is it purely a figment of the imagination of Steven Mithen, professor of early prehistory at the University of Reading in England?

Impossible to know, Mithen, 45, readily admits, but in his book, "The Singing Neanderthals," he has built a strong case that our hominid ancestors had a musical culture, and a rudimentary form of communication that went with it, that has left traces deeply embedded in modern mankind.
In other Neanderthal news scientists have managed to extract some Neanderthal DNA from a the tooth of a Neanderthal child's skeleton. The child lived over 100,000 years ago. The BBC also has a special presentation on the Neanderthal that provides some interesting reading.
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