Essay by Keri SheridanHigh School, 10th gradeA+, February 1996

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Staring into the gloom, I imagine the cave's ancient inhabitants, wrapped in

        bear skins, huddled near a fire. The haunches of a reindeer roast in the fire.

        A mother nurses her infant. Children playfully throw pieces of bone into

        the flames. An old woman tends the wounds of a hunter with an herbal

        ointment. The strong smells of smoke, unwashed bodies, and rotting

        carcasses thicken the air.

        Until recently, nobody would have assumed that the above passage (Rick Gore,

pp.6) was about how the Neandertals lived. However, recent studies have shown that

Neandertals are smarter than we first thought.

        The geography of the Neandertals domain was quite odd. 230,000 years ago

Europe was filled with caves, marshes, and grasslands. It was a very harsh and cold

wilderness. The Neandertals were in existence right in the middle of the Ice Age, and

although occasional warm periods would create subtropical conditions as far north as

England for thousands of years, the glaciers would always return and the Neandertals

would always be forced south again.

The Neandertals could be found as far north as

England and as far south as Spain, from Gibralter to Uzbekistan.

        Neandertal bones have been found in the Neander Valley and Dusseldorf Germany,

in Altamura, Italy and Vindija, Croatia. These are major sites for the European caves the

Neandertals lived in. Although the Neandertals went to the southern tip of Italy, they

never crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Africa. They migrated from central Europe to

central Asia to the Middle East and always came back. Their main mode of moving

around was on their feet, and they usually travelled in bands of no more than 30 people.

        The Neandertals had broad noses, and scientists think this was to warm the cold

air. They also...