Neanderthals were a type of early hominin
that lived on the planet earth between about 100,000 to 30,000 years ago. In some places, Neanderthals co-existed with humans, and the two species may have interbred. Recent DNA studies at the site of Feldhofer Cave suggest that Neanderthals and Humans had a common ancestor about 550,000 years ago. There have been several hundred examples of Neanderthals recovered from sites all over Europe and western Asia. Considerable debate over the humanity of Neanderthals--whether they purposefully interred people, whether they had complex thought, whether they spoke a language, whether they made sophisticated tools--continues.
For more detailed information, see the Neanderthal Study Guide
, which includes important sites, facts, study questions, and a bibliography.
This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology
. Sources for the term include the references listed on the front page
of the Dictionary, and the websites listed in the sidebar.
Alternate Spellings: Neandertal (more common in scientific articles)
Examples: Kebara Cave
(Israel), St. Césaire
(France), La Chapelle aux Saintes (France), Shanidar Cave
(Israel), Ortvale Klde