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Definition: 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)
Kebara Cave (Israel), St. Césaire (France), La Chapelle aux Saintes (France), Shanidar Cave (Israel), Ortvale Klde (Georgia)
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