What More Could You Ask in a Reconstructed Face?

He’s a Dutch Neanderthal. Seriously.

As you know, I am both.

Take a minute and go look at his face.

Now come back.

Cute, right? Plus, he’s thought to have lived in “Doggerland, the now-submerged region between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.” If that’s not cool I don’t know what is. I recently saw a theory somewhere that Doggerland was the inspiration for Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth, that his cycle of stories is supposed to be a history of very ancient times before those lands were swallowed up by the sea.

Now, we could quibble about how much this facial reconstruction owes to imagination. We’d need to know how big was the “piece of skull” used in it. Was it just a fragment, or was it a good bit of the skull? But as for me, I’m not going to look a gift Neanderthal in the mouth. (So to speak.) Also, I know someone who looks a bit like this. A little more chin, a little less nose, but still a human face.

NW Visits Mesa Verde

I’ll give you serious Mesa Verde pictures, plus a bit more commentary, next week. But here is NW on her visit there …

This is the edge of Mesa Verde. (As you can see, NW is nearly overwhelmed by it.) You approach it from the north, where impressive cliffs like this loom over you. The road climbs, and then Mesa Verde itself is a vast elevated area with multiple smaller mesas and canyons where you find archaeological sites. Some of them are built along cliffs in the canyons, others are up on top of the mesa(s).

The whole region is studded with forests of burned trees. As we drove south from the entrance towards Wetherill Mesa (which is in the Southwest corner of the park), periodically we would see signs that said what year the fire in question happened. Some of these fires happened 10, 20, or 30 years ago. The climate is so dry that the burned trees are still standing and look fresh.

Here is the path created for tourists that leads down to Step House, which is a small cliff dwelling. As you can see, it’s leading down into a canyon.

The path down to Step House leads right past exposed sandstone cliffs like this one. Not surprisingly, rock shops are a really big deal all throughout the Four Corners region.

Step House, besides the remains of stone walls (cool!) also has one kiva and a few other, “proto-kivas,” like this one. A kiva is a round underground room. Modern pueblo Indians use kivas for ceremonies, so we assume that is how they were used by their ancestors at Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and other sites. This one is called a proto-kiva because it’s smaller. The ranger, who was standing there, told me the Step House was settled around 600 AD, which is when the proto-kivas were built. Then there was a gap of a few hundred years, and it was settled again around 1200 AD, when the larger kiva was built. Apparently it was settled by the same people, or at least by people who made the same kind of pots. (But remember the archaeological caveat, “Pots are not people.”) The burned wood is still there from about a thousand years ago! This dry climate is fantastic for archaeology!

Here is a shot looking down into the bigger kiva, though NW did not photobomb this one.

But she did pose on this ladder, which is a re-constructed one leading up into the house part of the pueblo.

Somewhere in the Step House complex, NW found these petroglyphs. She is resting her club in a satisfied manner as though she just completed these herself. She did not, though. But they were obviously made by people, and the people were obviously kindred spirits in their desire to incise symbols, some of which look an awful lot like the Ice Age writing that NW herself once used.

NW Poses on Stuff

Hi all, I’m back from vacation! I got plenty of material for blogging, both Neanderthal-Woman-related and non-NW, which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks.

For now, here are some whimsical pictures of Neanderthal Woman. This little knitted cave person, custom made for me by a friend a few birthdays ago, turns out to be the perfect mascot to bring along on a trip and pose in various places. She is light, durable and squishy enough to carry in a pocket, and as a cave person, she is an endless source of prehistory-related tie-ins. She recently made the trip across the country and back dangling from my rearview mirror. Thanks, Arelis! NW is the gift that keeps on giving.

NW poses on a bison at Little America. This bison is actually slightly smaller than the aurochs which NW and her man used to kill and eat, back in the day.

It’s hard to tell, but here, she is posing on the back of a Sinclair dinosaur. Dinos power our vehicles, did you know?

Here, NW poses on the “Sky Prowler” puma sculpture found at the Colorado Information Center in Cortez, Colorado. Apparently, pumas are a big deal, symbolically, in the Four Corners region of the United States. I’m still looking into this.

I wanted you to see the puma’s paws, because they are so starry and beautiful.