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

Wed 18 Dec 1996 12:19 CT

William Frix wrote:

>Perhaps. However, the only point I was referring to was the
>'Shaman' aspect of the discussion. I am pointing out that the data
>available does not support the contention that the intent of the
>clothing was a deliberate religious act.

I agree that fossil evidence can not prove intent. So by that standard we
cannot prove ritual. But by that standard we can not prove intent of ritual
by finding a phoenician idol. How do you know they were worshipping it?
People have statues of fish for lots of reasons. We believe it to be evidence
of ritual because they are us. When it comes to Neanderthals there is less
certainty that they are us. But they do many of the same things primitive
people do--wear clothing, make jewellry, stone tools, musical instruments etc.
So why are we so quick to say they are not human?

There is lots of similarity between them and us in ritual activities.
There is evidence in the form of the use of red-ochre by Neanderthals.
Today red-ochre is used by primitive peoples as part of the body paint for
their rituals. Animal capes are today used in support of ritual. The
Neanderthal had an animal cape. Chippewa last century would kill a bear and
arrange its skull in a ritual fashion. A cave in Italy was found with a
bear skull inside a circle of stones. Another cave had bear skulls placed
in niches in the back wall. (I am at work so I can't give references from

You continue:

>The presence of tools, arrowheads, articles of clothing, etc. is a
>continuation of the previous debates of old earth/young earth, dating
>techniques, layer tectonics(?) etc.

If I recall correctly, you believe in a young earth. I would disagree with
you that clothing, huts/tools etc are merely an argument about dating.
The argument is over the humanity/non-humanity of a being who is very
different from us in many features. A neanderthal baby is different than
a sapiens baby. Yet both wear clothing which unless you are an evolutionist
implies that both are post-fall beings.

But for the sake of argument, what would you consider to be the best
argument for a young earth?

You wrote:
>>Do you know of any animal that makes clothing from skins?
>Other than the hermit crab, no (I would consider the discarded shells of
>crustaceans as their 'skin').

The crabs don't MAKE anything with these 'skins'. They use them as they
find them. The neanderthal had to tan the hide. Do you know how to
tan hides? If not, then they are more knowledgeable in that area.
Tanning is quite a process with lots of sequential steps. Usually only
modern humans today are capbable of such complex activities involving the
use of tools.

If the Neanderthal had not tanned the hides, he would have had a
flock of buzzards following him.