5.VI: Ancestor and Artifact Gallery

Neanderthal people (Europe to central Asia, 30 – 600 TYA) had the largest heads and noses of any human population.  Late Neanderthal DNA shows the earliest evidence of the light coloration that is still associated with Europe.

A Neanderthal woman. Neanderthal Museum. 1

The “modern” versions of the human skull and human behavior both emerged in Africa 100 – 300 TYA.  This correlation strongly suggests that they were both related to brain evolution.

This model is fashioned after a 300,000-year-old H. sapiens skull found in Morocco. The gear and paint are more representative of findings 50,000 – 100,000 years old. Neanderthal Museum. 2 

In the Middle Stone Age, toolmakers’ attention shifted from the core to the flakes.  Cores were carefully “prepared” so that knapping would easily produce the desired flakes.  The most important flake tools were spear points, awls for punching holes in leather, and scrapers for preparing hides and wood.  Some tools were forged with heat treatment. 

A 70,000 year old spear point in South Africa 3

Advanced stone tools were used to make increasingly sophisticated tailored clothing after 70 TYA.

Neanderthal Museum. 4

The blade was one of the most important innovations of the Upper Paleolithic

A blade made 30 or 40 TYA by the Aurignacians in France 5

This upper Paleolithic bone flute shows that people were enjoying music 40 – 50 TYA

Flute 6

The oldest known visual art took the form of handprints and simple geometric designs.

Handprints negative-painted in Indonesia 40 – 50 TYA 7
France, 30 TYA 8

Art quickly became representational.  It usually depicted animals, like the rhinos above or the ivory lion-man below.

Germany, 40 TYA 9


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Ch. 5 Margin Notes


  1. Neanderthal model:  Neanderthal Museum, Mettmann, Germany.  CC BY-SA 4.0 license, https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Homo_sapiens_neanderthalensis_(Fundort_Gibraltar).jpg (accessed, saved, and archived 7/17/21).
  2. Early H. sapiens model from Neanderthal Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0 license, https://www.neanderthal.de/de/urmenschen.html (accessed, saved, and archived 7/17/21).
  3. Point photograph by Vincent Mourre / Inrap, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blombos_point_white.JPG (accessed and saved 11/24/19, archived 12/29/19).
  4. Cro-Magnon” Man with tailored clothing from Neanderthal Museum, CC BY-SA 4.0 license, https://www.neanderthal.de/de/urmenschen.html (accessed, saved, and archived 7/17/21).
  5. Blade photograph by Archaeodontosaurus, CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.de), https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Pointe_de_la_gravette_MHNT_PRE_2009.0.231.1_(2).jpg (accessed and saved 11/25/19, archived 12/29/19).
  6. Flute photograph by José-Manuel Benito Álvarez, CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flauta_paleol%C3%ADtica.jpg (accessed and saved 12/07/19, archived 12/29/19).
  7. Handprint photograph by Cahyo Ramadhani, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hands_in_Pettakere_Cave_DYK_crop.jpg (accessed and saved 12/07/19, archived 12/29/19).
  8. Photo of rhino art public domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rhinos_Chauvet_Cave.jpg (accessed and saved 12/07/19, archived 12/29/19).
  9. Lion man photograph by Dagmar Hollmann, CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loewenmensch1.jpg (accessed and saved 12/15/2018, archived 12/29/19).
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