When people ask me why I write this series, smashing stereotypes is the reason. My goal is to overturn the outdated, demeaning, and ridiculous image of Neanderthals.
They were different from us, but not inferior in any way. It was once thought that they were hunched, stupid, brutish, grunting, club wielding sorts, but that was due to a visual interpretation of a particular individual who had a bad case of arthritis. No, they didn’t all hunch over or shuffle. They stood and walked and hunted mammoths.
As for being brutish, we now know they lived in small societies of 20-30 individuals and, from finding fossils of bones that had been broken then healed, they took good care of each other. They also created art on the cave walls where some of them lived. Others lived in villages and built homes of skin and mammoth tusks. I had my tribe split the difference—living in a village but with a cave nearby for ritual use.
Grunting? Voice boxes don’t survive 40,000 years, so it was once thought that they didn’t have them and couldn’t speak. However, they had all the structure they needed, so it’s likely they did speak. They may even have had a bit of symbolic writing, since some of their art consists of symbols, in addition to the pictures and handprints. Did those symbols have meaning? If so, they have been lost, but many identical symbols have been repeated in far-flung places.
Okay, here’s a couple more stereotypes: dragging the women home by the hair, and dividing their lives into male and female roles. That division was very unlikely. I countered this by having my Hamapa tribe be led by an elder woman who leads them wisely, a matriarch, elected by members of the tribe. That’s reasonable, because some older societies here are matriarchal. And some Homo sapiens societies used to be a lot more so. It makes sense to trace your lineage through your mothers and grandmothers. Before monogamy was standard, a person would always know who their mother was. It’s possible they would have no idea who had fathered them. That even happens today.
I would love for you to join the Hamapa tribe in their adventures over the three People of the Wind books!
In the first book of the series, DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, the Hamapa tribe must flee the approaching glacier at the beginning of the last Ice Age. This is what happened to Neanderthal tribes in real life. The animals that they depended on fled, so they had to follow,
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That’s it for today’s post, folks. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Prayers going up for your health and safety this year.
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