EXHIBITIONS: The Cave of the Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis)


The Cave of the Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis)

Is it possible that humans have inhabited Finland much longer than has traditionally been believed? Recent artefacts found in the so-called Wolf Cave, located in Karijoki, western Finland, are 100,000 years old. At that time the climate was fairly warm. The continental ice did not cover Finland until 25,000 years ago. The possible early inhabitants of Finland were not the Finns' proper ancestors, however, but Neanderthals, who colonised most parts of central and southern Europe. There was no other human species in Europe at that time.

Neanderthals were muscular, straight-backed, and short of stature. Their arms and thighs were especially short. The skeleton was strong and the skull low with a projecting forehead. They had strongly developed brow ridges and a lump at the neck. Cranial capacity (or brain volume) was larger than ours. Nevertheless, their linguistic capabilities were probably primitive. The reason the Neanderthals became extinct is unknown, but they did not mix genetically with modern humans.

Neanderthals lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering. They used fire, but also ate carcasses, and even cannibalism was not unknown. They probably ate mammoths as well. Neanderthals made primitive tools of stone and decorated themselves with red ochre body ornaments. They ceremoniously buried their dead. Without clothing made from the hides of their prey, the Neanderthals could not have coped with the cold climate.

Winter Hall | Summer Hall | Mushroom Forest | Brown Bear | Cave of the Neanderthals | Mammoth Room
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