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The Cave of the Neanderthal Tools

"The Cave of the Neanderthal Tools" artwork. Primitive axe and spears are around a bonfire.





Crosscutting Concepts:

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

Transcript-The Cave of The Neanderthal Tools
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What tools did Neanderthals use? That’s what Leo wants to know. We dig into the past of Neanderthal archeology, back to when people used to excavate caves with dynamite! Archeologist and author Rebecca Wragg Sykes shares the explosive story of how Neanderthals made tools, and what they can tell us about how Neanderthals lived.


Dr. Rebecca Wragg Sykes looking at a skull.

Dr. Rebecca Wragg Sykes is a British archaeologist. She’s interested in prehistory and the lives of Neanderthals –– that’s why she knows so much about their tools! Rebecca wrote a book all about Neanderthals titled, KINDRED: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art.

Rebecca is also one of the founders of TrowelBlazers, a website that celebrates the lives of women in archaeology, paleontology and geology. It's the best place on the internet to learn about amazing female archeologists, past and present! We highly recommend checking it out.

Read more from Rebecca:


In the episode, we learn about "knapping." It's a word that sounds like taking a nap, but actually means doing a lot of hard work by hand! See a knapper (yes, that is what you call a person who knaps) at work in this video:

The image below shows a flint napping site in Poland. This is where archeologists find the pieces to their tool jigsaw puzzles. (Image credit: A. Wiśniewski)

Photo of a flint mapping site in Poland. Rocks are scattered around and in dirt.

The great PBS paleontology YouTube channel, Eons, has a video about our human ancestors' tools. How are they similar or different from Neanderthal tools?


Besides being handy toolmakers, they may have also been the world’s first weavers.

Watch scientists bring a Neanderthal “to life” by creating models!

Scientists have discovered that Neanderthals could talk! But they didn’t exactly sound like us. Based on the shape of their throats, chests and posture, scientists believe they had higher-pitched voices that were louder than the average modern human’s voice.

You can watch this video of a scientist recreating what they think a Neanderthal voice sounded like.

Neanderthals lived at the same time as humans. So why are Neanderthals no longer around?

Get some theories in this article: Why did Neanderthals go extinct?

What are your questions about Neanderthals? Tell us at!


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