Researchers unveil 75,000-year-old Neanderthal face

A U.K. team of archaeologists on Thursday revealed the reconstructed face of a 75,000-year-old Neanderthal woman, as researchers reappraise the perception of the species as brutish and unsophisticated.

Named Shanidar Z after the cave in Iraq where her skull was found in 2018, the latest discovery has led experts to probe the mystery of the forty-something Neanderthal woman laid to rest in a sleeping position beneath a huge vertical stone marker.

The lower part of her skeleton is believed to have been excavated in 1960 during groundbreaking excavations by American archaeologist Ralph Solecki in which he found the remains of at least 10 Neanderthals.

His discovery of a cluster of bodies with one surrounded by clumps of ancient pollen led him to controversially argue that this was evidence of funerary rituals with the dead placed on a bed of flowers.

Political difficulties meant it took around five decades for a team from Cambridge and Liverpool John Moores universities to be allowed back to the site in the Zagros mountains of northern Iraq.

The last Neanderthals mysteriously died out around 40,000 years ago, just a few thousand years after humans arrived.

Shanidar Z's skull — thought to be the best preserved Neanderthal find this century — had been flattened to a thickness of two centimetres (0.7 inches), possibly by a rockfall relatively soon after she died.

Professor Graeme Barker from Cambridge's McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, who led the excavations at Shanidar cave, told AFP the team had "never expected to get more Neanderthals".

 'Flower burial' theory 

"We wanted to try and date these burials... to use the site to contribute to the big debate about why the...

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