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The Neanderthals Rediscovered: How Modern Science is Rewriting Their Story

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  779 ratings  ·  97 reviews
In recent years, the common perception of the Neanderthals has been transformed, thanks to new discoveries and paradigm-shattering scientific innovations. It turns out that the Neanderthals’ behavior was surprisingly modern: they buried the dead, cared for the sick, hunted large animals in their prime, harvested seafood, and communicated with spoken language. Meanwhile, ...more
Paperback, Revised and Updated Edition, 208 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Thames & Hudson (first published August 19th 2013)
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Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Neanderthals modern humans first cousins were in Europe 1 million years ago before moderns were modern. They survived as species living with humans until about 30,000 years ago. They survived ice ages and warm periods managed to live in the same places and times as modern humans for over 50,000 years. It isn't known if we caused their extinction by competition for food or warfare or if they actually went extinct or simply intermixed with modern humans. Recent genetic evidence suggests that ...more
Deborah Pickstone
Riveting account of newer strands of thought regards Neanderthal people that largely discounts any notion that they died out due to being a 'lesser' hominid and also gives the lie to the notion of them lacking the capacity for speech. Disappointingly, the authors put their disappearance down to 'climate change' (ie we are no further forward on this and have frankly no idea) which seems to be a catch-all for anything Science doesn't know but wants to sound profound about.

My personal theory is a
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Comprehensive and very accessible look at our not-so-knuckle-dragging cousins. Makes a great case for Neanderthal intelligence, while making the owners of the bones look like characters from the Far Side.
"Perhaps the single child in the group wandered into an uninhabitable cave and fell in a pit. Then one by one the rest of the clan became trapped in the course of failed rescue attempts." And you're wondering why they went extinct?
I laughed. I cried. I knapped myself some flint tools.
3rd book for 2020.

This offers a good accessible account of current scientific knowledge circa 2015 of research into Homo neanderthalensis. The authors basically make the case that Neanderthals were brighter, more socially competent, and more linguistically gifted than previously appreciated. Although they were largely meat eaters of big game—red deer, reindeer, wild boar, ibex, straight-tusked elephant, woolly rhinoceroses—dental evidence shows evidence of wild grains in their diet and even
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
For a book that promises to be all about Neanderthals and not so much about our ancestors, this didn’t totally deliver. The Neanderthals are compared to our (more direct) ancestors in pretty much every chapter, and not just where the two may have met and interacted. Nonetheless, it’s a good survey of what we currently know about Neanderthals thanks to work by people like Svante Pääbo who’ve taken it to the lab, and people who work in the field.

Honestly, it’s not as in-depth as I hoped, but it is
Lexxi Kitty
A quite interesting nonfiction book that attempts to trace and tell the origins, life, and ultimate fate of the Neanderthals. The authors noted two important issues with their book: 1) the point of the book is to tell the entire Neanderthals story, at least as known; their story not bits as they relate to the homo sapiens story. Though what is going on with other humiods on earth is touched upon. 2) the authors noted that if they had finished their book on their original contract timeline ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
This was an excellent read! Dr. Papagianni has synthesized the latest and greatest archaeological and genetics data and information about our closest human cousins, the Neanderthals. While this book will clearly appeal to the lay-reader, I found it to be a very accurate representation of the latest theories and hypotheses associated with better understanding the long history of the Neanderthals and their place in Human family tree. Dr. Papagianni has also included a relatively comprehensive ...more
Jacques Coulardeau
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it


The timeline is not always very clear but let’s put some order in what we get, at times scattered over the pages and chapters. Some humans – it would be more accurate to say Hominins – left Africa two million years ago and reached South East Asia then. That’s fundamental but it is said once page 20 and it will never be exploited anymore. One million years ago the first humans – Hominins would be better here too – entered Europe. Note these very
Nov 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Relatively short and highly accessible account of the development of our knowledge of our extinct human cousins. The book draws a succinct portrait of Neanderthal life and particularly good for relating it to the parallel development of homo sapiens. The book is also thorough in relating Neanderthal history to climate change.

The writers seem to have a strange missionary zeal in attempting to rehabilitate the reputation of neanderthal man in popular conciousness. This pops up throughout the book,
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Former science teacher here who wanted to be either a paleontologist or physical anthropologist...

Loved this book. Reread several sections more than once. I wish there had been more color photos! (But I think that makes a book more expensive.) I had already read some of the older books on the subject, which these authors often cite, so this was a good update for me. I find the entire subject of our ancestors compelling and the Neanderthals have always fascinated me. It was eye-opening in many
James Hartley
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent, easy-to-read book on the latest findings. That whole period of history/prehistory is now coming out of the shadows. That there were various "types" of humans is a given; exactly how they interracted and who did what to whom is not so clear. But there is enough fascinating information here to keep you glued to the pages for at least three quarters of the this book. Sadly theres not enough to completely pad it out, so you get a few chapters on things like "Neanderthals in film and ...more
J. Bryce
What a great and readable introduction to recent Neanderthal research! Not for specialists or academics, but for the rest of us, this is terrific.
M.J. Daspit
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Very informative and up to date. I particularly liked the explanations of how the newest dating technologies work and where the newest discoveries have been made. Though the book didn't establish beyond reiterating various theories what happened to extinguish this line of humanity, it did reveal some evidence, that I was previously unaware of, that there was interbreeding among Neanderthals and other human lines. I didn't so much care for the social commentary on how Neanderthals are viewed in ...more
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thorough, accessible and readable overview of current consensus and debate on neanderthal peoples. Much more in the style of summarising and explaining than polemic, the book is a relatively quick read. The immense likability of the authors, particukarky their gentle humour, suits this very well. I can only hope they agree to keep updating this, as the science evolves at an ever rapid pace.
David Potocnik
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Easy to read for a topic that I knew little about prior to reading the book. It is interesting that so much new information keeps pouring in, and changes (or overturns) long-held beliefs about our ancestry. It does explain quite a paradigm shift. I look forward to researching more about an ancestral line that I have quite a bit of in my own DNA.
Barry Corbett
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

Easy to read for the lay person. Not a great deal to offer other than a summation of the last century of scientific discovery regarding homo neanderthals I look forward to a more in depth volume from the author in the future.
Chris Campbell
Nov 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
It's probably a great, but I couldn't get into it. It felt like I was doing homework.
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, history
I enjoyed it, but the writing was dry and repetitive.

I was quietly excited when I saw that this book was soon to be published. Palaeoanthropology has become a rapidly changing field over the past few years, with new discoveries deepening the complexity of our picture of our stone age past, and the refinement of genetics testing throwing new and surprising light even on old discoveries. The Neanderthals Rediscovered did not disappoint. Bringing the latest debates and discussions to publication, it’s a great up-to-date resource for the already
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like so many people who are different from us, the Neanderthals are now known mainly for the use of their name as a pejorative…we think this is unfair.

Because we wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of any Neanderthals in the audience. This was stupid to the point of insulting, at least for me. Perhaps the authors should consider donating to a Neanderthal-related charity to right this historic wrong. I can’t even imagine how stupid it must be to sit in a university classroom these days. The
Vicky Hunt
The Measure of a Man

A look at the fossil record of various human skeletons recovered thus far, Papagianni and Morse's The Neanderthals Rediscovered attempts to draw a narrative around the traces of the past that remain in Europe. To be more precise, this book does not contain new research, but instead summarizes what is currently already known in a manner that is attempted to be most up to date. To steal a term from technology, this could be seen as 'state of the art,' archeological
Steinar Sigurdsson
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Interesting but didn't keep me engaged. Would have been better off reading an article. Summary: Neanderthals are cooler and smarter than you thought. Nobody knew exactly how they went extinct but there are some theories.
Julia  Yeates
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it
An 'interesting' mix of quite scientific and technical data with some rather juvenile chapters.
Interesting, nevertheless ...
Mark Halse
Mar 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
These types of books mostly end up being books about archeology as opposed to bring about the subject matter. I don't want to read about broken fossilized bones and have axes. I want Neanderthals.
Bill Leach
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Papagianni and Morse present the recent findings on the development of early man.

The first humans, most likely Homo erectus, left Africa about 1.9 million years ago and seemed to have inhabited Asia as late as 100,000 years ago. Homo erectus had evolved a larger brain and improvements in the legs and pelvis which were beneficial for long distance travel. The hand axe is the signature tool of this species. The earliest evidence of humans in Europe dates to 800,000 to a million years ago, the
Jaime Reyes
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally, a Neanderthal book worth reading.

First, a declaration. I too write a book about our pre-historic cousins. Although mine is more fiction than historical, by coincidence, I used many of the of the references listed in my research also. I also admit that I suffered from some of the same ignorance found in previous Neanderthal depictions. However, I sincerely apologize to our distant cousins for giving them monosyllabic names. My book was half written before I discovered the same
Anthony Yvonnica
Pretty good book.

My reason for reading the book was to learn what the author had to say about:

The time Neanderthal lived, his geographic range, his tools/art/religion/language, what other human species were his contemporaries, evidence of Neanderthal's interactions with other human species, what caused his extinction, what species of human is it supposed that he developed from and what evidence is there for this.

The book did provide an answer for each of these questions. But I thought the
Interesting, informative, and easy to read. I read it in two days.
I wonder if there is any more definitive evidence since this book was written, as they make it sound as if Neanderthals and Homo sapiens didn't really spend any time together, although it's stated as fact now that non-Africans today have 1-4% of Neanderthal DNA.
The last chapter, I thought, was unnecessary, or perhaps could have been an introductory chapter. We all know how demeaning a portrayal of Neanderthals has been in
Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle
Three and a half.
Despite much updated data, most of this is repetitious for anyone who keeps abreast of news regarding our closest hominid cousins. While it's not poorly written or researched, and would be a great primer for anyone just coming into this field of interest, it's not especially memorable or groundbreaking. Enjoyable for those who already like the subject, certainly, but you likely won't come away with a glut of new information unless you've read little on the history of human
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Review of
The Neanderthals Rediscovered:
How Modern Science is Rewriting Their Story,
By Dimitra Papagianni and Michael Morse

By Greg Cusack
March 7, 2016

Just published last year, this is a highly informative summary of the state of current knowledge about the Neanderthals by two married scientists who, although soundly grounding their material in the most recent findings of archaeologists (and their allies in related fields), nonetheless do so in a manner very accessible to laypersons.
In doing
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“To put these events in perspective, it is helpful to imagine the entire course of human evolution, from the appearance of the first Homo habilis in Africa to the present, as taking place over the course of a single day. For convenience, let us start the clock with midnight representing 2.4 million years ago, which is within the range of when the genus Homo is thought to have emerged. In this time-compressed day, with each hour representing 100,000 years, humans left Africa at dawn, around 5 to 6 am.” 0 likes
“They first arrived in Europe at noon, already at the halfway point since the appearance of the human line. In what was probably a subsequent out-of-Africa expansion, Homo heidelbergensis spread from Africa to Europe at dusk, just before 6 pm. By 9 pm the Neanderthals had evolved in Europe and were manufacturing Levallois tools, while their counterparts in Africa were making similar technological advances.” 0 likes
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