Our perception of the Neanderthals has undergone a metamorphosis since their discovery 150 years ago, from the losers of the human family tree to A-list hominins. Spanning scientific curiosity and popular cultural fascination means that there is a wealth of coverage in the media and beyond – but do we get the whole story? The reality of 21st century Neanderthals is complex and fascinating, yet remains virtually unknown and inaccessible outside the scientific literature.
In Kindred, Neanderthal expert Becky Wragg Sykes shoves aside the cliché of the shivering ragged figure in an icy wasteland, and reveals the Neanderthal you don't know, who lived across vast and diverse tracts of Eurasia and survived through hundreds of thousands of years of massive climate change. Using a thematic rather than chronological approach, Kindred will shed new light on where they lived, what they ate, and the increasingly complex Neanderthal culture that is being discovered.
Based on the author's first-hand experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research and theory, this easy-to-read but information-rich book lays out the full picture we now have of the Neanderthals for the first time, from amazing new discoveries changing our view of them forever, to the more enduring mysteries of how they lived and died, and the biggest question perhaps of them all, their relationship with modern humans.
Rebecca Wragg Sykes has been fascinated by the vanished worlds of the Pleistocene ice ages since childhood, and followed this interest through a career researching the most enigmatic characters of all, the Neanderthals. After a PhD on the last Neanderthals living in Britain, she worked in France at the world-famous PACEA laboratory, Universite de Bordeaux, on topics ranging from Neanderthal landscapes and territories in the Massif Central region of south-east France, to examining how they were the first ancient humans to produce a synthetic material and tools made of multiple parts. Alongside her academic activities, she has also also earned a reputation for exceptional public engagement. The public can follow her research through a personal blog and Twitter account, and she frequently writes for the popular media, including the Scientific American and Guardian science blogs. Becky is passionate about sharing the privileged access scientists have to fascinating discoveries about the Neanderthals. She is also co-founder of the influential Trowelblazers project, which highlights women archaeologists, palaeontologists and geologists through innovative outreach and collaboration.