Re: Did Neanderthal make baskets?

John P. McKiness (
Sat, 8 Nov 1997 15:02:06 -0600

At 09:18 PM 11/7/97 -0600, Glenn wrote:
>I just ran across a fascinating study of stone tools from Southwest France.
>The tool of most interest came from Combe Grenal and is dated to Wurm I time
>(>73,000 years ago-Lawrence Guy Straus, "Southwestern Europe at the Last
>Glacial Maximum", Current Anthropology, 32:2, (April 1991), pp 189-199, p. 190)
>This time was prior to the occurrence of anatomically modern man in Europe.
>Now, those who would reject Neanderthal as human must face the fact that a
>non-human was possibly making baskets, not to mention the things I have
>discussed over the past two years---the flutes, tents, spears and engaging
>in burials with flowers. I must say that this is quite unusual behavior for
>an animal; wish we had one for a modern circus.


Thank you for passing on this information concerning the finding, I find it
interesting but I am still having a problem with your attempts to identify
Neanderthals as human when we still do not know what "human" means. Is
every organism that does "human" activities "human?" Is it the
characteristics of the skeleton which makes the organism human? Is it he
skeletal characteristics coupled with cultural detritus what makes organisms
human, or may something else (not seen in the fossil record or in a
photographic image for that matter) determine what is "human?"

I do not believe that the idea of the bearer of the "image of God" will even
help us here because even theologians can not agree on what that term means.
(my understanding of the Lutheran position is that we lost the image at the
fall and it is only present at present in Jesus Christ).

I would suggest that sin is part of the definition of "human" now and that
will be devilishly hard to find in the fossil record if "man" existed prior
to Adam.

I have no problems with Neanderthals, H. erectus, or A. afarensis, being
called men by their bones or cultures. But I do have a problem with those
who define the term as we Christians do and then apply it to them. Our
understanding of the term requires us to recognize our position before God.
If Neanderthals lived prior to Adam, or didn't spring from him, they could
behave as we do but not be capable of sin. Think of it, if not a
"descendent" of Adam, Joe Neanderthal could be a mass murder and not be a
sinner like say a grizzly who attacks and kills humans today; but would Joe
be human.

Oh well, just some thoughts, have a good weekend,