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December 28th, 2009
Program One: Becoming Us
Video Excerpt: Wearing Grandma's Teeth

Alan Alda vists the rock shelter of Abri Castanet in Southwest France where he is shocked to learn about some of our ancestors’ early behaviors. “And we’re descendants of these people?!”

“Becoming Us” premieres January 6 on PBS.

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  • Nyloc Rek

    Are we finding any ornaments from Neandertals? Perhaps ornaments reveal our “symbolic” brain. Humans attach meaning to inanimate objects and, like words, ornaments convey messages to others. We might assume that they wore “jewelry” to enhance their appearance. They may have been sending complex messages about status, shared beliefs and history, much as we do with language. If Neandertals didn’t have ornaments, it suggests they also may not have used symbols and language the way we do.

  • C.A. Palumbo

    No. There just isn’t any clear evidence of anything artistic or symbolic in the thinking of Neanderthals, just as with their alleged “burials.” Rather, it is the presence of such things in early Homo Sapiens sites that gives anthropologists their opinion that such remains represent the first known truly modern humans.

Inside This Episode

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