Found in Germany 150 years ago, the man of Neandertal is still unknown.
The Museum of the man organises, until January 8, 2007, a small
exhibition to this cousin of the man modern (Homo sapiens), missing
here are 24.000 to 30.000 years, and invites the visitor to make a
critical inventory of the various theories emitted to explain his
The man of Neandertal goes down from populations of Homo erectus left
Africa there are 500.000 to approximately 600.000 years. Those
gradually adapted to climates harder than that of their African cradle.
Néandertaliens are attested on a broad territory, energy of the
Central Asia in Western Europe. They seem, moreover, to have cohabited
with populations of men morphologiquement modern, more recently left
Africa and made to Europe some 40.000 years ago.
Was this cohabitation fatal in Neandertal? These two humanities are
they fought? Did Neandertal succumb to diseases brought by its African
competitor? Were the climatic changes fatal with its way of life? Was
it, quite simply, less intelligent than his/her cousin sapiens? The
exhibition makes it possible to pass in addition to the generally
accepted ideas and preconceived. Beautiful examples of lithic
industryshow that the techniques of size of Neandertal were comparable
with those of sapiens.
Ornaments of shells, wolf's teeth, suggest as for them cultural
contacts with modern groups of men or faculties of abstraction and
representation of the world close as of ours. As the reconstitution
testifies some to the burial néandertalienne discovered in 1908
with Vault-with-Saint (Corrèze), our distance cousin buried his
deaths. Did it speak? These various elements, which attest of a
cognitive capacity comparable with that of sapiens, indicate it without
question. Was it for as much able to articulate the same sounds? The
reconstitution, due to the fossils, of its vocal apparatus made it
possible researchers to simulate the probable sound of its voice. The
effect is seizing: the visitor, by sticking the ear to a wall, can hear
the murmur of this reconstituted, serious and major fossil voice,
articulating some vowels.
Another element of the exhibition which should irritate the purists but
fascinate the public: the setting in scene of the reconstitutions of
these prehistoric men, signed of the artist Elisabeth Daynès.
How, starting from skeletons, to reconstitute the face of these men?
Isn't one a little far from science? Not, answers Evelyne Heyer,
responsable of the exhibition, bus if “the complexion of the nose, the
mouth, the pigmentation of the skin and the hair remain the object of a
free interpretation of the artist, the study and the taking into
account of the points of muscular fastener makes it possible to
approach their appearance as much as possible”.
Each researcher has a scenario of predilection to explain the
disappearance of Neandertal. The assumption which with the preference
of Evelyne Heyer is that of an interbreeding with Homo sapiens and a
combination of the characters néandertaliens in the populations,
more, from Africa.
S t e p h a n F o u c a r t