A talk by Dr. Danielle Schreve described animal bones and flint tools extracted from a 65,000 year-old infilled stream channel exposed by quarrying in Norfolk. Here, a voice from the past challenges our stereotyped view of Neanderthal hominids and reveals the answer to an important question left unanswered by Dr. Schreve’s Scanning Electron Microscope.
I think that we Neanderthals deserve a better press –
You think of us as hairy, thick-brained grunters.
In fact, our brains were just as big as yours are, more or less,
And we were quite sophisticated hunters:
We made our landscape work for us; we killed beasts in their prime
To give us lots of protein for our belly
(The early mid-Devensian was such a chilly time).
Our favourite special treat? Bone-marrow jelly!
Our instincts always helped us to protect ourselves from harm,
For we could be the target of attacks;
So speed was of the essence and, to cut off leg or arm,
We’d use a sharp triangular hand axe.
I understand you’re puzzled why our axes were so clean
That SEMs reveal no trace of nosh:
Well, that’s because our women nagged “You don’t know where they’ve been”,
And regularly put them in the wash.