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Faunal perspectives on the possible settlement of southern Denmark by Neandertals

Projekter: ProjektForskning

  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet


The causes and consequences of the Neandertals’ demise is one of the most hotly disputed issues in human origins research. Although it is clear that they no longer exist as a distinct group, genetic data suggest that Neandertals may have contributed up to 4% of their genomes to non-African modern human populations. In light of this added complexity, a fuller appreciation of Neandertal biocultural adaptations and how they differed and/or were similar to those of modern humans is more important than ever.
One proxy of Neandertal capabilities is their biogeographic range which, by extension, reflects the habitats to which they were able to successfully adapt. Traditionally, the Neandertal world was thought to be limited to western, central, and eastern Europe, north Africa, and western Asia, with Uzbekistan representing the group’s easternmost outpost. However, recent mitochondrial DNA analyses of human fossil remains from Siberia effectively extend the known Neandertal range some 2,000km to the northeast. This indicates that Neandertal groups may have been able to successfully negotiate the high mountain zones and deserts of Central Asia. Such findings call for a reevaluation of the Neandertal range, and the time seems ripe to revisit the issue of Neandertal occupation of northern Europe in general and southern Scandinavia in particular.
Neandertal occupation of southern Scandinavia has been debated since the 1920s. While many researchers entertain the possibility of a Neandertal presence in the region, the current evidence is considered ambiguous at best. Among the most commonly cited locales with possible evidence for Neandertal presence in southern Scandinavia is the Danish site of Hollerup. It has been claimed that fallow deer bones from this site and several others preserve evidence of human butchery (Møhl-Hansen, 1954). If true, this would signify the existence of Neandertal groups in southern Scandinavia at the beginning of the last interglacial (~130,000 years ago). Advances in zooarchaeological method and theory justify a reexamination of this evidence. Therefore, the guest researcher will address two specific questions:
Research Question 1: Did Neandertals butcher the remains of fallow deer at Hollerup and other sites that date to the last interglacial?
Research Question 2: If Neandertals did in fact butcher animals at one or more of these sites, how does Neandertal carcass processing behavior compare with that documented at more recent (modern human) sites?
Effektiv start/slut dato01/10/201131/12/2012




ID: 128942776