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Neanderthal Notions of Death and its Aftermath: The Contribution of New Data from Shanidar Cave

Organised by Professor Graeme Barker and Dr Emma Pomeroy, this workshop will look at: Neanderthal Notions of Death and its Aftermath: The Contribution of New Data from Shanidar Cave
When Jan 25, 2019 02:00 PM to
Jan 28, 2019 01:00 PM
Where McDonald Institute Seminar Room, Courtyard Building, Downing Street
Contact Name
Attendees By invitation only
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Neanderthal mortuary behaviour has played a central role in longstanding debates regarding the cognitive and behavioural similarities and differences between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, debates given renewed relevance by genetic evidence that they interbred. Much of the evidence regarding Neanderthal mortuary activity has been controversial, partly because it has largely consisted of 're-reading' older excavations. The ten Neanderthals discovered in Shanidar Cave between 1951 and 1960 have featured centrally in these debates. Recent excavations at the site are providing a unique opportunity to investigate Neanderthal mortuary behaviour using cutting-edge analyses of geoarchaeological, osteological, taphonomic, palaeoenvironmental and chronological evidence.

Since data on potential mortuary behaviour are often hotly debated and no single line of evidence conclusive, the workshop will draw together leading specialists in these various disciplines to scrutinise the new evidence in a comparative context. It will explore how to identify intentional treatment of the body in archaeological contexts, and how recent methodological advances across multiple fields can inform us about mortuary activity, its environmental context, and relationship to “significant places” in the landscape. The workshop will provide a forum for leading scholars with diverse specialisms and opinions to engage in intense debate about major anthropological questions concerning the evolution of cognition and mortuary behaviour, and how we can identify them theoretically and methodologically, through a focussed and comparative assessment of new data from a key Neanderthal site.


An Oral History of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research