Anthropos Pavilion > Temporary exhibitions > Welcome to the Neanderthals

Welcome to the Neanderthals

2. 12. 2016 - 1. 7. 2018

Admission: regular 90 CZK, reduced 45 CZK, family 225 CZK

Opening hours: Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

A fascinating ability to survive in severe environment of Pleistocene Europe / Our predecessors in a new light. The exhibition has been prepared in cooperation with the National Museum Prague and the Tatra Museum Poprad.

Long-time research of Middle Palaeolithic in Europe shows unequivocally that the image of mentally limited Neanderthals struggling every day for survival is false and that we have to change our attitude essentially. Through the most important finds originating mostly from the territory of Moravia, the exhibition shows the everyday life of Neanderthals and their fascinating ability to survive in severe conditions of Pleistocene Europe. “We more and more often discover that these people underwent permanent technological, economical and symbolical evolution so that at the end of the Middle Palaeolithic their behaviour was fully comparable to that of the newly coming anatomically modern men,” says the author of the exhibition Petr Neruda. As the material culture of the Neanderthals was very simple and does not contain – with few exceptions – interesting items to present, the exhibition is based on models, reconstructions and audio-visual elements demonstrating in a dynamic and interactive way the behaviour of the Neanderthals.

The exhibition is divided into several sections each of them presenting unique items or interesting exhibits.

The first part places the Neanderthals into the chronological and geographic context of the so called Middle Palaeolithic. It makes obvious that the Neanderthals were perfectly able to adapt to various extreme climate conditions during glacial and interglacial periods. In spite of their rudimentary material culture they were really successful predators of their time.

The second part presents the Neanderthals in the anthropological context of Europe. The visitor can get an idea of how the Neanderthals developed, what they looked like, how our concept of their anatomy has changed and how complicated was the process of their recognition as a specific human species. The highlight of this section is a realistic model of the whole figure of a Neanderthal (by Ondřej Bílek) made from silicone and meeting severe criteria of the anthropological reconstruction. Parallelly, an extensive collection of European Neanderthal casts is on display alongside with works of art including paintings by Zdeněk Burian showing the evolution of pictorial interpretation of Neanderthal anatomy. Original remains of Neanderthals from Moravia (Kůlna, Švédův stůl caves) and Slovakia are exhibited for the very first time.

The third part makes the visitor acquainted with the latest findings concerning the structure of Neanderthal sites. It has turned out that Neanderthals divided the cave space into various functional parts and that the structure of their dwellings was in fact very similar to that of the later anatomically modern humans. Wire models of Neanderthal figures (by Jakub Lipavský) as well as videos presenting the given topic in a dynamic way are a special feature of this section.

The fourth part introduces the visitor to technological abilities of the Neanderthals. They are documented with original finds from Moravian and European sites. A video shows dynamic processes, e.g. chipping and using lithic artefacts, distribution of stone tools, etc.

The fifth topic is that of obtaining food, i.e. hunting and gathering. The visitor gets to know that the Neanderthals exploited practically all possible food sources their main source of subsistence being meat of large herbivores. The hunting method is described in detail; the Neanderthals used the contact manner of hunting that was very risky especially in contact with carnivores or rhinoceros.

The last section deals with symbolic and aesthetic feelings of the Neanderthals, those behaviour aspects that were denied them for a long time. The visitor can discover that the Neanderthals understood the aesthetic value of stone tools and various products of nature. Besides that, they developed symbolic thinking and social feeling that found expression especially in the care of injured and disabled members of the group.

The preparation of the exhibition was extraordinarily demanding because witnesses of material culture that could be presented are extremely rare and their visual effect is minimal. The authors thus decided to create a specific space – a cave imitation that presents the visitors with the latest scientific findings through original items, copies, 3D models and videos. The latter enable the visitor of any nationality to understand the content without the language knowledge. They are funny and their graphic form is suitable to the young generation and children (animation).

The book Time of Neanderthals appears in Czech and English version alongside the exhibition. It provides the reader with a survey of important information that could be collected until now on these predecessors of ours.

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