Rebecca Wragg Sykes has written a remarkable book about Neanderthals, sort of a scientific version of Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear. It is well worth a read for all geoscientists, plus any budding archeologists as geology, age dating and creating a story from snippets of information are integral to the book. They\se processes are also critical to most of the work done by geoscientists.
Rebecca shows that Neanderthals weren’t ‘the losers of the Hominin Games’, nor were they ‘powerless and awaiting extinction.’ On the contrary they were the European branch of hominins, with a similar but competing lifestyle to H.sapiens. They wandered the Asian and European landmasses for hundreds of thousands of years and interbred with Denisovans and H.sapiens numerous times over their latter years. Each group learned from each other and co-existed for thousands of years. All appear to be as civilized as each other.
Their eventual demise is open to debate, but it is now known that some of their DNA is carried by most of us on the planet today. The various hominins went through all sorts of bottlenecks (e.g. – the seven daughters of Eve theory by Bryan Sykes) throughout their history and each was probably lucky to survive the many catastrophes and calamities over the last half a million years.
I was most intrigued that the possibilities for their demise 40 000 years ago were similar to that of the Indus Valley Culture, 4000 years ago. Massive volcanic eruptions that caused winters that lasted numerous years, climate change and the arrival of new weapons (H.sapiens propelled weapons against Neanderthals vs coming of the Iron Age against a Bronze Age Indus culture) and the changes in ideology that these would have naturally brought with them.
It may have been the volcanic eruption (Santorini), climate change, the hoarding of possessions and enslaving of others that ended the Indus Valley Culture and similar changes may have ended a depleted Neanderthal culture.
Sykes book is well worth a read as a scientific treatise. Mine might be as a historic fiction tied together with modern science. It is about the discovery of a lost river based on an interpretation of modern offshore Indian seismic data.
Signs of a River by Andy McGee available as an eBook on Amazon Kindle.
Ferg was itching for some real answers, and these lads were just what the doctor ordered. “So Jagadev, what is this Saraswati that I am not allowed to mention. You must know of it?”
“It is a mythical and sacred River that is the ancestral home of the Hindu. There are many stories about it in the Rigveda, our most beloved of poems.”
Hashmi was a little non-plussed and felt compelled to interject. “No, good sirs, it is from a time before the Hindu. It is from the Aryan times and it is in Pakistan, not India. Everyone knows it as another name for the mighty Indus.”