**This lecture contains images of human skeletal remains.**
This presentation was given on 19 November 2020 as part of the Garrod Research seminar series of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. Dr Emma Pomeroy is Lecturer in the Evolution of Health, Diet and Disease in the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. Abstract: Shanidar Cave is an iconic site in Palaeolithic research thanks to the discoveries of the remains of ten Neanderthal men, women and children by Ralph Solecki and his team between 1951 and 1960. Shanidar 1’s extensive injuries during his life have been central to discussions of Neanderthal compassion and care, while the famous ‘flower burial’ (Shanidar 4, whose body was surrounded by pollen clumps), has been a hotly-contested example of Neanderthal funerary behaviour for decades. New excavations at Shanidar Cave, led by Professor Graeme Barker since 2015 in collaboration with the Kurdish Regional Government’s Department of Antiquities, set out to enhance our understanding of the lives of the Shanidar Cave Neanderthals and the modern humans who succeeded them using cutting-edge archaeological techniques.
The discovery of new Neanderthal remains from Shanidar 5 and another individual, currently known as Shanidar Z, was unexpected but offers an exceptionally rare opportunity to reconsider and test ideas about Neanderthals’ morphology and behaviour. In addition, the recent availability of Ralph Solecki’s extensive excavation archives through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Anthropological Archive is providing greater context to Solecki’s original discoveries and new perspectives on the remains he uncovered. In this seminar, I will discuss the new insights into Neanderthal behaviour and biology emerging from the analyses of the new Shanidar Cave finds and Solecki’s archive, and their implications for understanding our enigmatic evolutionary relatives.