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Discoveries Give New Clues To Possible Neanderthal Religious Practices

‘Neanderthals built complex structures, captured birds to ornament themselves with feathers, and successfully hunted mammoth and other formidable megafauna with tools.

But does any of the evidence suggest that they were religious? It’s notably tricky to infer religious behavior from material culture… We do see hints of ceremonial responses to the dead at Neanderthal sites… At Teshik-Tash in Uzbekistan, a Neanderthal child was buried and encircled by goat horns. At Regourdou in France, bear bones, plus a slab of rock topped by tools and another bear bone, were placed at a Neanderthal body positioned at the bottom of a depression. Bear bones in an adjacent room at Regourdou suggest to some archaeologists that bear meat might have been consumed there as a funeral rite…

Looking at the evidence collectively, though, I think at least this conservative conclusion is warranted: Some Neanderthals buried their dead with purpose and care.Next comes our central question: Did Neanderthals engage in some way with the supernatural or the sacred? …’

Source: NPR