War in the time of Neanderthals: how our species battled for supremacy for over 100,000 years

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. One group stayed in Africa, evolving into us. The other struck out overland, into Asia, then Europe, becoming Homo neanderthalensis – the Neanderthals. They weren’t our ancestors, but a sister species, evolving in parallel. Neanderthals fascinate us because of what they tell us about ourselves – who we were, and who we might have become. It’s tempting to see them in idyllic terms, living peacefully with nature and each other, like Adam and Eve in the Garden. If so, maybe humanity’s ills – especially our territoriality, violence, wars – aren’t innate, but modern inventions. Biology and paleontology paint a darker picture. Far from peaceful, Neanderthals were likely skilled fighters and dangerous warriors, rivalled only by modern humans.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Neanderthals
  • Homo sapiens
  • anthropology
  • warfare
  • evolution
  • paleontology
  • palaeontology
  • archaeology
  • prehistory
  • genocide

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