Why is the disappearance of the “Neanderthal” Man 30,000 years ago, significant today? (Part F)

In the last part of our article (Part E) concerning the disappearance of the Neanderthals 30,000 years ago, we focused on the “effective” and “creative” ways through which the Cro-Magnons utilized their “human abilities” and “human ingredients”(human DNA) which were at the disposal of the Neanderthals,but were ignored by them. This “unimaginative human specie”(Neanderthal), with its “one-dimensional” and “limited” attitude to life,had as its “sole preoccupation”, its own “personal physical survival” and its “personal gene procreation”, similar to the “instinctual drives” of all living creatures, including those of the “higher mammals” such as the apes, the whales, the elephants, the tigers, the horses ,etc We also mentioned that the Cro-Magnon “human specie” experimented with its “human mental capacities” creating “abstract thinking”, a “human development” which not only refined the human tools for communication (practical and pragmatic human communication), but it also inserted into that specie’s everyday existence an “aesthetic dimension”.

This aesthetic human quality entailed a “harmonic” relationship between Man and Nature (cycle of life, cycle of seasons, regular movement of heavenly bodies, seasonal migration of animals), a “metaphysical” relationship between Man and the Universe ( death and an afterlife, visible and invisible forces of the Cosmos, magical powers of human beings), and finally a “creative artistic” relationship between a Human Being and its Inner Self, as well as between a Human Being and the Human Community (burial ceremonies, initiation ceremonies, artistic creations in caves, artifacts, musical instruments, well constructed burial sites). All these “aesthetic” human expressions, originated from the human mental ability for “abstract thinking”, but were also supported and reinforced by personal human feelings of “altruism” and “empathy” for one’s fellow human beings.The Cro-Magnons had created the social means and incentives whereby each and every individual could feel free in externalizing his or her “uniqueness” and “talents” for the benefit of the whole “human community”, thus providing the “social impetus” and the necessary “social building blocks” for the formation of the “first human culture”,and as a consequence the establishment of the “first human social organization” in its primal stages. To better clarify what we have just been describing, let us repeat once again the general meaning of “culture”, which is “…the beliefs, way of life, art, and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society…”.

In the last part of our article, we began analyzing these “aesthetic” human components by examining the various parameters which defined the “social” and the “sociological” significance of a Cro-Magnon burial site. We mentioned that these constructions were well designed and geometric, which signifies human ingenuity, human cooperation, but also human care. We also focused on the human effort involved, not only in burying the deceased properly, but also in decorating the deceased with rich and refined ornaments. Third, and taking into account all the practical details and high workmanship involved in burying a person, it is highly likely that all these human inputs must have been executed in a ritualistic context, defined by rules and customs. We can therefore identify from these burial sites many of the constituents which make up a “human culture”.

Another extraordinary human quality which is assigned for the first time to a “human specie” is the “human ability” to create music and to dance to the sounds and the rhythm of that music. We know that this is real and factual, from the many primitive musical instruments which have been found in various Cro-Magnon living locations throughout the European Continent, as well as from drawings found in Cro-Magnon caves, depicting humans, and more specifically “shamans”(primitive spiritual teachers), dancing and playing a number of primitive musical instruments. It is almost certain that the ceremonies and the rituals associated with the burial of a deceased person, must have included music from primitive musical instruments, accompanied by chanting and dancing. This “musical quality ” of the Cro-Magnons is made more evident when we observe cave drawings which describe “shamans” who are not only in a state of rhythmic motion where all the limbs are bent, but who are also sometimes playing a certain primitive musical instrument.

Let us first identify some of the musical instruments which have been found in various Cro-Magnon localities in Europe, many of them dated at well before 30,000 years ago. The simplest musical instrument found is the “drum stick”, which also served as the shaman’s “scepter”(witch-doctor). This can also be verified from Cro-Magnon cave drawings depicting “shamans” like the one in the region Lascaux in France(Fig.1.). In this cave drawing , the shaman’s “scepter” is the long rod laying on the ground, where on one end there is a bird figure. “…Horst Kirchner has argued that the batons of the Upper Paleolithic Period( 33,000- 17,000 years ago), of which the shaman’s scepter at Lascaux( cave drawing) is a type, were in fact used as drumsticks. The scepter becomes not only a symbol of ascent, but its very instrument; it supplies the auditory driving that helps implement the transformation of consciousness essential to the shamans experience …”( Robert E. Ryan, Ph.D., “The Strong Eye of Shamanism”, p.243).


Another musical instrument which has been found in Cro-Magnon encampments by archeologists is the “bull-roarer”, which is not only reproduced in cave drawings portraying “shamans”, but is also sculptured onto small stone figurines of women, most probably symbolizing Mother Earth and Fertility.

In the next section of our article, we shall discuss in more detail these Primitive Venuses(small stone statues) as they have been called by archeologists since the 19th century, because they have been found in many Cro-Magnon living sites throughout Europe, and as a consequence represent a ” focal point” on the everyday philosophy of this “human specie” as it reflected “human existence” and the “human identity” within the Natural Order of Things.”…The so-called Venus of Willendorf (Germany) is a well known example. And at Laussel (France), in Dordogne, in the area of many well-known cave sites, was found a similar figure(Fig.2.), carved upon a convex face of a block of limestone with the effect that the central areas of the ample body swell out toward the viewer. Her left hand rests upon her abdomen, and in her right she holds at shoulder level the horn of a bison…”( Robert E. Ryan, Ph.D., “The Strong Eye of Shamanism”, pp.26-27).


In one Cro-Magnon living site, archeologists found the remains of a primitive type of a “xylophone” or more precisely a “lithiphone”, since it was made of a regular series of symmetrical blades of stone.”…Later sites have also yielded what may have been percussion instruments; and at one locality, a series of enormous flint blades found laid parallel on the ground may have been the remains of a “lithiphone”: the Stone Age equivalent of a xylophone…” (p. 6. http://www.human-nature.com/Darwin/books/tattersal.html). Similarly, from a Cro-Magnon cave drawing depicting a “shaman” (Fig.3.), we observe that this “extraordinary personality” attired in an animal hide, is not only in the process of “dancing”, but is at the same time playing a “string type” musical instrument.”…Les Trois Freres (Cro-Magnon cave in France) is interesting in its portrayal of a horned, ithyphallic figure dancing on human legs among a throng of animals and apparently playing a bowlike instrument. He manifests all the qualities of the “Lord of Beasts”, and is suggestive of an early anticipation of the Orpheus story about the musician who charmed the animal world into an unnatural state of harmony and, shamanlike, rescued souls from the Otherworld…”( Robert E. Ryan, Ph.D.,”The Strong Eye of Shammanism”, p.36)


Finally, we have multiholed bone and ivory flutes which are capable of producing harmonic and complex musical sounds. The most recent discovery of a bone flute( Fig.4.) was made in a Cro-Magnon cave in southwestern Germany( Hohle Fels), along with fragments of two small ivory flutes. This almost undamaged bone flute, is thought to be at least 35,000 years old, is made from a hollow bone of a griffon vulture, is about 8.5 inches long, and includes the end of the instrument into which the musician blew. There are about 2 to 3 inches missing ( pp.1-2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/science/25 flute.html). All this archeological evidence demonstrates that very early on, the Cro-Magnon “human specie” which colonized the European Continent more than 45,000 years ago, had a well-established “musical tradition”, while on the other hand there is no real evidence that the Neanderthals were a musical “human specie”(p.2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/science/25 flute.html).


German archaeologists place great emphasis on this Cro-Magnon “creative human quality” and “talent”, which is not only related to the “social aesthetics” and the “spiritual expression” of the whole human community, but it also entails a type of “universal communication” that designates specific “social relations” and a specific “social identity”( social bonding), directed towards a unitary and a well integrated “human culture”. These German archaeologists suggest that music in the everyday life-style of the Cro-Magnons”…could have contributed to the maintenance of larger social networks, and thereby perhaps have helped facilitate the demographic and territorial expansion of modern humans…”( p.2. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/science/25 flute.html)

In the next section of our article, we shall continue describing the “creative qualities” of the Cro-Magnons within the context of “aesthetics” as well as their whole “philosophy” on human existence and the human identity within the Cosmos. We shall therefore examine the artistic details and the ritualistic significance of the Cro-Magnon caves which are located almost everywhere in Europe, the primitive “Venus” figurines which may represent their first “symbolic deity”, as well as the social role of the “shaman”, who was the human “driving force” behind these “creative human miracles”!!!

I would like to conclude this part of my article by quoting an excerpt from “The Acts of John”, which is one of the most famous “Gnostic” texts in Christianity’s religious tradition. These Gnostic texts were Christian gospels written by the “followers” of Jesus Christ during the 1st and 2nd century, mostly in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean. This means that the authors of these religious texts , were close in “time and space” to the life experiences of Jesus Christ here on Earth. From the start of this socio-religious movement(Christianity),these Gnostic Christian texts and gospels were suppressed and eventually destroyed by the Established Christian Church of Saint Paul and Saint Peter, and that is why they are also called “apocrypha”(greek word meaning ΄hidden΄). The “officials” of the Established Christian Church took this negative stand and classified the Christian Gnostics as “heretics”, because in their writings and in their Christian beliefs, they greatly emphasized Christ’s “everyday human wisdom” and “human sensibilities” and not Christ’s “divine absolutism” as the Son of God, the God of the Jewish Religious Tradition(Jehovah). The Christian Gnostics through the teachings and the life-style of Jesus Christ promoted “social equality” for all ; men and women, young and old. They rejected a “social hierarchy” as well as “exclusive social roles”. These Christians focused mainly on “free human creativity” and on “free human expression” at all levels(social bonding, the erotic in a physical and spiritual sense, the dialectic thought process) in order to achieve the divine(harmony) here on Earth. They were aiming for a “creative”, “egalitarian”, “consensual” and “loving” human coexistence.”…The Second Treatise of the Great Seth(Gnostic text) similarly declares that what characterizes the true church is the union its members enjoy with God and with one another, ΄united in the friendship of friends forever, who neither know any hostility, nor evil, but who are united by my Gnosis (greek word meaning ΄deep knowledge΄)…(in) friendship with one another΄. Theirs is the intimacy of marriage, a ΄spiritual wedding΄, since they live ΄in fatherhood and motherhood and rational brotherhood and wisdom΄ as those who love each other as ΄fellow spirits΄…” (Elaine Pagels, “The Gnostic Gospels”, p. 118).

The Christian Gnostics (greek word meaning ΄knowledgeable΄) in describing the sayings and the everyday practices of Jesus Christ, utilized all the human wisdom from the cultures of the East, the Middle East, Egypt, Greece and Rome, exposing the “universality” and the “pluralism”* promoted by the “clear” and “open” spirit of their “enlightened mentor”, while the First Established Christian Church and later on all major Established Christian Churches(Greek Orthodox Church, Catholic Church, Protestant Church) demanded a “divine social hierarchy”, “theoretically” similar to that in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of Jehovah, the “highest deity” of the Jewish Peoples. In the apex of this “heavenly hierarchy” there is a Masculine God who is the absolute commander, and who therefore expects “absolute” human devotion and obedience to all His “orders” and “guidelines”. He is also the One who prescribes in the “strictest of terms” a specific hierarchy of “divine roles” assigned to “angels”, “spirits”, “prophets” and devout “holy people”, where women and children are almost “excluded”!!! Based on this “theogony”** of the Old Testament, the “clever” officials of the First Established Christian Church, and later on , the “clever” officials of the major Established Christian Churches , defined the hierarchy of their representatives (patriarch, pope or archbishop, bishop, deacon).It was a hierarchy which would be protected by “divine immunity” from the everyday social interventions and criticisms of the “laity”. The “true” history of Christianity during the first centuries of its evolution, as well as the Gnostic texts and gospels, have convinced me that the “philosophy of life” of the Gnostic Christians was very close to what the Cro-Magnons tried to create as “human culture” and as “human organization”. The officials of the major Established Christian Churches could not adopt or accept this Gnostic philosophy because their real social intentions were to a large degree directed towards their own “personal social privileges”, their “personal political power” and their “personal material well-being”. The “one-dimensional” priorities of those clerical officials had greater affinities to the “life-style” of the Neanderthals than the “human prototype” of Jesus Christ.

The excerpt we shall quote comes from the Christian Gnostic text “The Acts of John”, and describes the meeting of Jesus Christ with his disciples just before being arrested by the authorities for the final judgement; an eventuality which only he knows. The excerpt says the following: “…he assembled us all, and said, ΄ Before I am delivered to them, let us sing a hymn to the Father, and so go to meet what lies before (us).΄ So he told us to form a circle, holding one another’s hands, and himself stood in the middle…Instructing the disciples to ΄Answer Amen to me,΄ he began to intone a mystical chant, which reads, in part, ΄To the Universe belongs the dancer.΄ – ΄Amen.΄ ΄He who does not dance does not know what happens.΄- ΄Amen.΄ …΄ Now if you follow my dance, see yourself in Me who am speaking…You who dance, consider what I do, for yours is This passion of Man which I am to suffer΄…”(Elaine Pagels, “The Gnostic Gospels”, p.92). So “Amen” for all of us !!!

* pluralism- the belief that the existence of different types of people within the same society is a good thing

** theogony- an account of the origin and the genealogy of the gods