The Neandertals

Symbolic practices

What is meant by "symbolic practices"?

Symbolic practices are related to abstract concepts, including spiritual ones. Religious rituals are symbolic practices, superstitions, divination and tributes, for example.

The Neandertals paid homage to their dead: in Qafzeh and Kebara in the Middle East, dead people were buried accompanied by objects, or symbols. In the same way, cannibalism, also mentioned in food, could have been a symbolic practice.

Works of art are, for the most part, objects with symbolic significance, but almost none are known to be attributed to Neandertals.

How Neandertals thought is not currently understood but a recent discovery in the Bruniquel cave (France), allows us to imagine the extent of their thought processes. This cave houses the most intriguing of prehistoric buildings: in its depths there is a structure of 400 broken stalagmites arranged in a circle that could be dated to more than 175,000 years old!