Even more than Germany’s Neander Valley, which gave Neanderthals their name, Shanidar Cave evokes the lost world of our closest evolutionary kin, when they were active humans, with their own traditions and social bonds, rather than scattered bones and artifacts.Shanidar gave us the first glimpse into who Neanderthals were.Excavations began in the middle of the 20th century at the site, located about 60 miles northeast of the city of Mosul in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The digs turned up 10 skeletons, including the remains of two infants. Dating methods were considerably less precise at the time, but the range established for the remains was from roughly 50,000 years ago to a mere 35,000, representing the twilight of their kind.(Credit: Antiquity)
(If I seem to be waxing poetic about Shanidar, blame Jean Auel. Like many ’80s kids, I read The Clan of the Cave Bear and other titles from her Earth’s Children series, which was inspired by finds at the cave. Dramatic embellishments…



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