London: Learn from our ancestors when it comes to good parenting.
Neanderthal children experienced strong emotional attachments with their immediate social group, used games to develop skills and played a significant role in their society, a significant research has revealed.
Challenging the traditional view that Neanderthal childhood was difficult, short and dangerous, archaeologists from University of York suggest Neanderthals were no strangers to good parenting.
The traditional view accords with preconceptions about Neanderthal inferiority and an inability to protect children epitomising Neanderthal decline.
“Our research found that a close attachment and particular attention to children is a more plausible interpretation of the archaeological evidence, explaining an unusual focus on infants and children in burial,” explained Penny Spikins from PALAEO (Centre for Human Palaeoecology and Evolutionary Origins) and department of archeology at York.
The traditional perception of the toughness of Neanderthal childhood is based largely on biological evidence, but the archaeologists also studied cultural and social evidence to explore the experience of Neanderthal children.
They found that Neanderthal childhood experience was subtly different from that of their modern human counterparts in that it had a greater focus on social relationships within their group.
Investigation of Neanderthal burials suggests that children played a particularly significant role in their society, particularly in symbolic expression.
The research team said there is evidence that Neanderthals cared for their sick and injured children for months and often years.
The study of child burials, meanwhile, reveals that the young may have been given particular attention when they died, with generally more elaborate graves than older individuals.
The research was published in the Oxford Journal of Archaeology.