Archaeologists Have Discovered The Remains Of Two More Neanderthals In Iraq’s Shanidar Cave

Shanidar Cave is a remarkable archaeological site and the recent excavation of two Neanderthal adults brings the total number of Neanderthals discovered here to 12.

Two new Neanderthals have been found in Shanidar Cave in Iraq.
IR Stone / Shutterstock

Shanidar Cave is a remarkable archaeological site and the recent excavation of two Neanderthal adults brings the total number of Neanderthals discovered here to 12.

Archaeologists recently made the exciting announcement that they have discovered the remains of two Neanderthal adults at the archaeological site of Shanidar Cave, which is located in Iraq. As 10 Neanderthals have already been recovered from this area, with the first batch excavated between the years 1957 and 1961, the two most recent additions show just how rich this area is with such extraordinary finds as this.

According to Kurdistan 24, Cambridge University began a partnership with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) five years ago so that archaeologists could continue hunting for Neanderthal bones around Shanidar Cave.

Regarding the discovery of two further Neanderthals here, British paleoanthropologist Dr. Emma Pomeroy explained that while one of the skulls of the Neanderthals had been badly mangled, the skull is nevertheless complete for the most part.

“What we have here is the skull of a Neanderthal adult. It’s been quite badly squashed by the stones and all the soil on top of it, but it’s actually fairly complete. We can see the lower jaw, the upper jaw, we can see with the teeth, and we can see the eye sockets. So, hopefully, when we’ve finished excavating – removing all the bones, we may be able to reconstruct it.”

Dr. Pomeroy also noted that the two sets of Neanderthal remains that were found in Iraq’s Shanidar Cave had been covered by a rock.

“It seems to be the first of two individuals that we have in this area. So we’ve got one individual higher up and another one underneath, and it looks like a rock has been intentionally put on top of the burials as well.”

One of the big questions archaeologists have right now is learning whether both of these Neanderthals were buried together immediately after their deaths, or whether their family members and community would have buried them at a later date.

To decide upon their burials times, archaeologists specializing in different areas will be analyzing the site further, according to Dr. Pomeroy.

“All in all, we’re about 12 individuals and all with different specialties. Some specialize in soil. Me, I specialize in the Neanderthal bones. Others specialize in studying the environment or the tools that they used, the kind of animals that we find here that they might have eaten. So we hope to build a strong picture of how they lived here, what their life was like, and what they did when members of their group died.”

Now that there are two new Neanderthal additions to add to the long list of burials at the Shanidar Cave site in Iraq, archaeologists will be busy once again learning more about the lives and deaths of these individuals.