Neanderthals and Modern Behaviour: Did they bury their dead?

  • Nikki Alexandra Basset University of Manitoba


Because Neanderthals co-existed with Homo sapiens and potentially contributed to anatomically modern humansââ¬â¢ DNA, a widespread discussion regarding their capabilities for modern behaviours, such as interment, has been demanded. This essay will first look at whether Neanderthals intentionally buried their dead by examining Shanidar IV. Then, by examining what modern behaviours are, when and how they emerged, and who possess them, this essay will try to conclude if they exhibited the behaviours characteristic of modern Homo sapiens. As a literature review, this essay will attempt to provide an all-encompassing overview of the differing perspectives among scholars. However, because Neanderthals do not exist outside the archaeological record, conclusions generally remain contentious. What can be concluded from the literature and research on intentional interment is that in some cases, Neanderthals probably had buried their dead. But to distinguish their behavioural capabilities based on what might be intentional interment is flawedââ¬âââ¬Ëmodernityââ¬â¢ is not something that archaic Homo sapiens or Neanderthals should possess in the first place. What has been agreed upon, is that Neanderthals had a capacity for modern behaviour, though the utilization of these behaviours were part of a complex evolutionary scale that coincided with the behavioural evolution of archaic Homo sapiens.