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Cannibalism, or the Probability of religious Consciousness in Neanderthal Man from Krapina

Ivor Karavanić ; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska

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In 1889 remains of fossile man were discovered in a cave in the locality »Husnjakovo brdo« in Krapina (northwest Croatia). Dragutin Gorjanovic-Kramberger made this discovery, investigated it, and published the results of his work. He explained the find of broken and burnt human bones - along with similar bones af animals - by cannibalism of the Neanderthal man of Krapina. Many scientists have accepted this explanation, to proof were scratches on some to the conclusion that these scratshes might have been a consequence of removing flesh from the bones of partially decomposed bo¬dies in the course of preparations for a secondary burial. Opinions were voiced stating that the burial of these Neanderthal people may have been effected by heaping massive amounts of rocks from the cave upon them, or that they were buried by members of their social group. Since it has been established that damage on some of the bones - interpreted by D. Gorjano-vic-Kramberger as a consequence of canibalism - could actually have oc¬curred naturally in the process of fossiliyation, further, burials of Neander¬thal man having taken place approximately at the same time of somewhat later than in Krapina have been discovered, these proofs of cannibalism can also be explained otherwise, allowing the possibility of the Neanderthal inhabitants of the Krapina cave having had a certain religious consciou¬sness. Cannibalism cannot be ruled out but it could be interpreted as ritual cannibalism.


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