How To Think Like a Neandertal

Hardcover | November 3, 2011

byThomas Wynn, Frederick L. Coolidge

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There have been many books, movies, and even TV commercials featuring Neandertals - some serious, some comical. But what was it really like to be a Neandertal? How were their lives similar to or different from ours?In How to Think Like a Neandertal, archaeologist Thomas Wynn and psychologist Frederick L. Coolidge team up to provide a brilliant account of the mental life of Neandertals, drawing on the most recent fossil and archaeological remains. Indeed, some Neandertal remains are not fossilized, allowingscientists to recover samples of their genes - one specimen had the gene for red hair and, more provocatively, all had a gene called FOXP2, which is thought to be related to speech. Given the differences between their faces and ours, their voices probably sounded a bit different, and the range ofconsonants and vowels they could generate might have been different. But they could talk, and they had a large (perhaps huge) vocabulary - words for places, routes, techniques, individuals, and emotions. Extensive archaeological remains of stone tools and living sites (and, yes, they did often livein caves) indicate that Neandertals relied on complex technical procedures and spent most of their lives in small family groups. The authors sift the evidence that Neandertals had a symbolic culture - looking at their treatment of corpses, the use of fire, and possible body coloring - and conclude that they probably did not have a sense of the supernatural. The book explores the brutal nature of their lives, especially innorthwestern Europe, where men and women with spears hunted together for mammoths and wooly rhinoceroses. They were pain tolerant, very likely taciturn, and not easy to excite. Wynn and Coolidge offer here an eye-opening portrait of Neandertals, painting a remarkable picture of these long-vanished people and providing insight, as they go along, into our own minds and culture.

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There have been many books, movies, and even TV commercials featuring Neandertals - some serious, some comical. But what was it really like to be a Neandertal? How were their lives similar to or different from ours?In How to Think Like a Neandertal, archaeologist Thomas Wynn and psychologist Frederick L. Coolidge team up to provide a ...

Thomas Wynn is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Frederick L. Coolidge is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. Wynn and Coolidge are co-authors of The Rise of Homo sapiens: The Evolution of Modern Thinking and co-editors (with Sophie A. de Beaune) of C...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:November 3, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199742820

ISBN - 13:9780199742820

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Customer Reviews of How To Think Like a Neandertal

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible read! The title and cover of this book immediately grabbed my attention. First, and they allude to this a few times in the book, is the series of commercials for car insurance with the slogan 'So easy even a caveman could do it'. And second, is the number of people I know who have applied Paleo or Primal caveman diet as part of their lifestyle and fitness regime. Those two points caused me to pick up the book. But this academic exercise was so much more than I could have expected. It was fascinating, and I found repeatedly that I could not put it down, or alternately had to put it down and really ponder and think about what the authors had just espoused. It was an incredible read and I have recommended it to about a dozen people, a few who told me they were hooked part way into the first chapter. The structure of the book is: 1. True Grit 2. The Caveman Diet 3. Zen and the Art of Spear Making 4. A Focus on Family 5. It's Symbolic 6. Speaking of Tongues 7. A Neandertal Walked into a Bar . . . 8. To Sleep, Perchance to Dream 9. You've Got Personality 10. Thinking Like a Neandertal Glossary Index This was a magnificent read. I have read science fiction about Neandertals such as Robert J. Sawyer's Hominid trilogy, The Neandertal Parallaz: Hominids, Humans and Hybrids. And I've seen numerous science fiction movies with some level of Neandertal involvement. But this book looks at the historic evidence, weighing commonly accepted theories and disputed theories. It compares and contrasts what we find in the archeological records about Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis and Homo Sapiens Sapiens. It also compares the records with current hunter-gatherer tribes and also with some other primates both existing and ancient. They present the evidence, examine theories and present their opinion, often very convincingly. This book was the first academic level book I have read in the two years since I finished university. After reading it, the first thing I did was check to see if they have written other books and I did not care the topic. This book was very well written, is of an academic caliber but accessible to most readers, and very insightful about where we come from and how we got here. I loved it and think you will also.
Date published: 2012-02-27

Extra Content

Table of Contents

1. True Grit2. The Caveman Diet3. Zen and the Art of Spear Making4. A Focus on Family5. It's Symbolic...6. Speaking of Tongues7. A Neandertal walked into a bar...8. Neandertal Dreaming9. Neandertal Personality10. Thinking Like a Neandertal