Re: Origins: The Shaman's Cape-Religion among the Neanderthals

Bill Frix (
Tue, 17 Dec 1996 13:38:01 GMT-5


Now that the semester is (almost) over, I can start reading some
of these files.

Regarding Glenn Morton's message of Mon, 16 Dec 1996

> Shreeve relates:
> "But the Neandertals' true humanity revealed itself in the actions of
> their souls. At the 50,000-year-old site of Hortus in southern France, two
> French archaeologists in 1972 reported the discovery of the articulated bones
> of the left paw and tail of a leopard.
> The arrangement was as if the individual was wearing a leopard skin cape. This
> is attested by several facts. The position of the paw indicate that the bones
> of the paw were left in the skin. The fact that a human skeleton was found
> without large parts of a leopard skeleton indicates that there was not a lot
> of leopard skeleton when the man was buried. There is no reason for leopard
> skeletal remains to decay faster than human remains. The teeth of a leopard
> are quite hard and resistant to decay and should have survived had they been
> there. They weren't. This implies that the only leopard bones in the burial
> were the paw and the small bones of the tail. Thus this appears to be a
> cape.
> An animal cape is a symbol often used by shamans in their magic rituals.
> Ivars Lissner wrote of the Altaics of Siberia:

> I see only two ways out of this position for the christian who does not want
> to believe in evolution. First, one can try to say that the wearing of capes
> is a feature we share with the soulish mammals. This is the approach taken
> recently by Hugh Ross with the Neanderthal flute. But I have never seen an
> animals make animal capes for disguise. And this makes a mockery of what
> makes us human--the ability to manufacture non-utilitarian objects.
> One can deny that this is a cape, but then one must assume that the man and
> leopard were buried together with the leopard on the man's back, and that all
> of the leopard's bones (except for the tail and paws) decayed while the human
> bones didn't. This seems to stretch credibility.
There is a third possibility: the wearer was wearing "clothes" with
no spiritual significance. I find it interesting that there was no
head, nor other paws present, hence not a _complete_ hide. Since I
haven't been around many shamans (shamen?, sha-persons?), I don't
know what is the costume du jour but I have seen people wearing
animal robes, including paws (and even an occasional head) for non-
religious reasons (except, maybe, the religion of affluence). As a
result, I am not convinced the find represents a shaman or any
religious artifact. All I see you have is a person (probably)
wearing an animal skin - their motivation is purely speculation.
William M. Frix
Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering
Box 3021
John Brown University
Siloam Springs, AR 72761
Phone: (501) 524-7466
FAX: (501) 524-9548