The Cradle of Thought: Growth, Learning, Play and Attachment in Neanderthal children

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Childhood is a core stage in development, essential in the acquisition of social, practical and cultural skills. However, this area receives limited attention in archaeological debate, especially in early prehistory. We here consider Neanderthal childhood, exploring the experience of Neanderthal children using biological, cultural and social evidence. We conclude that Neanderthal childhood experience was subtly different from that of their modern human counterparts, orientated around a greater focus on social relationships within their group. Neanderthal children, as reflected in the burial record, may have played a particularly significant role in their society, especially in the domain of symbolic expression. A consideration of childhood informs broader debates surrounding the subtle differences between Neanderthals and modern humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-134
Number of pages23
JournalOxford Journal of Archaeology
Issue number2
Early online date8 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

Bibliographical note

© John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 2014. This is an author produced version of a paper published in Oxford Journal of Archaeology. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.


  • Neanderthal
  • human evolution

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