While he’s best known for his dinosaur portraiture, here he moved a little forward in time and, using the best science of his day, imagined what life was like in the Mousterian culture of what he would have called Homo neanderthalensis. Nowadays, we’re not so sure they’re not just slightly shorter, stockier Homo sapiens. Names are tricky that way.
When Knight was painting his paleoart, archaeologists were defining a Neanderthal culture they called “Mousterian,” based on flint tools and other artifacts found near a place called Le Moustier, France. Further east, Neanderthals used similar techniques to make their stone tools – and apparently passed those tricks on to the upstart modern humans with whom they shared the neighborhood. That was between 300,000 and 30,000 years ago – enough time for us modern humans to do a lot of forgetting. Did Knight get it right? Did the tool-makers of Le Moustier really look like this? Probably not – not exactly, at least. But looking at this, it’s a lot easier to imagine what their lives were like.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.