Saturday, 11 February 2012

How to Think Like a Neandertal by Wynn and Coolidge

How to Think Like a Neandertal by Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge is an extremely interesting book.

"Oh,your such as Neandertal!" Will shriek some man or woman when they are criticising the behaviour of someone they know.

Yet if they were challenged and asked: "OK, who were the Neandertals? Where did they live? How did they live? How did they treat sick members of their group? Did they have any concept of religion?" they would be utterly and entirely clueless, as their views on Neantertal society were probably based on a hodgepodge of vague ideas from seeing a model of a caveman in a dusty, somewhat grim museum, and Raquel Welch  in a fur bikini.

Wynn and Coolidge have examined many branches of science to work out how Neandertals lived, worked, played and prayed. Or at least, how they dealt with the death of a family member or of a member of their group.

The book is fascinating and very readable. Unlike many other books of the academic rigour of How to Think Like a Neandertal, the authors want to share their discoveries with their readers. This is no dry as dust worth tome! It's a highly readable worthy tome!

They explore and explain how and what Neandertals ate, how they hunted, the types of work they did, the average length of their lives, how they reacted and inter-reacted with each other, their concepts of an afterlife, how they tended the sick and the elderly, how they thought, how they communicated, etc. They also showed that although Neantdertals and humans did intermarry, that the relationship between humans and Neandertals was not always a happy one.

They also explore several interesting concepts. For example, did Neandertals have a sense of humour? Did they dream? What happened to them?

The book is published by the Oxford University Press in hardback. It is, of course, available from the That's Books bookshop.

I can heartily recommend it to academic and general reader.

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