Kapitány, R, Nielsen, M, Shipton, C and Langley, M (2020) Homo neanderthalensis and the evolutionary origins of ritual in Homo sapiens. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 375 (1805). ISSN 0080-4622

[thumbnail of Neanderthal Ritual.pdf]
Neanderthal Ritual.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (268kB) | Preview


There is a large, if disparate, body of archaeological literature discussing specific instantiations of symbolic material culture and the possibility of ritual practices in Neanderthal populations. Despite this attention, however, no single synthesis exists which draws upon cognitive, psychological, and cultural evolutionary theories of ritual. Here we review the evidence for ritual-practice among now extinct Homo neanderthalensis, as well as the necessary cognitive pre-conditions for such behaviour, in order to explore the evolution of ritual in Homo sapiens. We suggest that the currently available archaeological evidence indicates that Neanderthals may have utilised ‘ritualisation’ to increase the successful transmission of technical knowledge across generations — providing an explanation for the technological stability of the Middle Palaeolithic and attesting to a survival strategy differing from near contemporary Homo sapiens.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final version of this article and all relevant information can be found at; https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019-0424
Uncontrolled Keywords: symbolism; Palaeolithic; Neanderthal; behaviour; cognition; over-imitation.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2020 16:22
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2021 01:30
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/7833

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item