Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


5 December 2010

The Prehistory of Compassion: Neanderthals Cared Too

Heritage Key, 05/10/2010

New research by archaeologists at the University of York suggests that it is beyond reasonable doubt Neanderthals – often misrepresented as furry, primitive caveman hobbling about – had a deep seated sense of compassion. Dr Penny Spikins, Andy Needham and Holly Rutherford from the university’s Department of Archaeology examined the archaeological record in search for evidence for compassionate acts in early humans. These illustrate the way emotions began to emerge in our ancestors six million years ago, which developed into the idea of ‘compassion’ we know today. “We have traditionally paid a lot of attention to how early humans thought about each other, but it may well be time to pay rather more attention to whether or not they ‘cared’,” said Dr Spikins.

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