Part 2: The Rise of Man?

Woolly mammoth-cro-magnon encounterFirst, let us study Neanderthal technology. Neanderthals had soft Mousterian hammers which they used to make stone-flakes, hand axes, and spears (for thrusting, likely not projectile spears). Materials they used included wood, bones, antlers, and eventually some stone by the end of their timeline. It has been suggested that they only inherited much of their more advanced technology and thus in comparison to their human neighbors, they were less sophisticated. Technology was a part of why humans were able to drive their cousins to extinction, so without pressure they could have developed similar technology but at a slightly slower pace. I doubt they would reach our modern technology by this time and perhaps they might have never reached it (as the Native Americans and Australian Aborigines never developed as advanced technology as groups of the same species in other places of the earth).


Next up: Would the Neanderthals have domesticated wildlife and developed means to cultivate species of plants? I think in certain areas there is a possibility that they might go through the same steps as we did to reach civilization. Perhaps in some Middle Eastern river valley, a population of Neanderthals might use the seasonal floods of the region to develop agriculture and eventually an advanced civilization as did the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, and Chinese. What they domesticate is purely speculative. Some of our domesticated and semi-domesticated animals are former prey or predators of our ancestors. Possibly, these Neanderthals might domesticate the mammoths and deer they once drove to death. They may even develop religious beliefs or deities based on the behemoths.

With civilization comes culture, so if Neanderthals create civilization then they will likely have an advanced culture. I can’t say if they will have art, music, and literature just as we do because there is no evidence of them ever exhibiting anything related to the three. Cave art is purely limited to the Cro-Magnons, so the possibilities for them having art and, at some point, a written language, is quite hard to predict. First they would have to have an oral language and drawn pictures. Then they would start associating the spoken word with the drawn picture and the picture would evolve into a symbol and so on. I think that with a civilization and culture, they would eventually have a system of hieroglyphics. (see Neanderthal language for more info)
Neanderthal religions? As far as a Neanderthal religion(s), I think there is evidence for the start of such a step to higher society. Neanderthal burial sites show some signs of care for the dead as well as grave goods suggesting more advanced and even religious burial could have come in the future (maybe not to the extent of entire Pyramids). A Neanderthal religion, I believe, would either develop into a spiritual one (the earth and animals both play important roles as in the Native American and Shinto religions) or one more similar to the Egyptians or Hindus (in which animals play key roles and are even worshiped to some extent). They would also have some form of afterlife if they give burial goods to the dead. Deities would likely relate to natural themes such as specific animals who represents certain things to the Neanderthal people (such as fertility, agriculture, death, life, war, etc.).

Now, all these developments are not expected to be made by the Neanderthals themselves (Homo neanderthalensis) but perhaps by some descendant of the species that is slimmer, more agile, and more intelligent and human-like but not exactly us.


Part 1: The Rise of Man?

Neanderthal ChildFor my first post, I have decided to discuss a topic recently brought up on my Hypothesis Project forum: what if humans (Homo sapiens) never evolved and the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) continued to exist up until modern times? Would they have evolved into a new, more advanced species or would they have remained the same yet with a more evolved culture? First of all, the Neanderthals were very adept to cold, northern environments during a time where those sorts of areas were highly available. I am unsure that these thick, robust beings would continue to exist with the ice age ending and temperatures warming. Would it be possible for them to adapt to a warmer climate? I would say yes. Although most specifically adapted for cold regions, they are found as far as the Middle East and Spain, suggesting that they might not need the ice for survival. It is often theorized that our own species wiped out the Neanderthals, either through competition, some disease, or “absorption” by interbreeding. Without the human factor, the Neanderthals could have taken the leading role as the dominant hominid or could have gone extinct even without human interference.
Let’s take the first possibility: Neanderthals survive and humans never appear. Several questions must be considered: will they radiate outwards to other regions of the earth, will they encounter other species of Homo such as H. erectus, will they remain hunter-gatherers or will they domesticate wildlife and plants for their own specified usage, will they remain simple, possibly ritualistic beings or will they develop civilization to some extent, and how might they effect the fauna of this world devoid of human beings?
Beginning with the first question, will they radiate outwards to other regions of the earth? I believe yes. Our own species managed to spread from Africa to Eurasia, Australasia, and the Americas before even developing civilization. Starting from Europe, I predict that they would have spread across northern Asia and then the Bering Strait to North America. I think the spread to the “southern” continents will take longer, starting with Africa and then Australia, perhaps even South America. Now will Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis ever meet? Probably not. A majority of H. erectus populations were declining by the time we appeared and if this “hypothesis” were to follow the same timeline, by the time Neanderthals would reach southeast Asia (the last stronghold of the “upright” race), their cousins would already have been extinct.
Neanderthal culture and civilization to be studied in the next part of “The Rise of Man?”