archaeologist Joseba Rios is in love with the Neanderthals. He would have loved
to have had the chance to spy on them through a crack in a wall and see at
first hand how they lived, what their relationships were like, how they
organised themselves. As that can’t be done, he gets information from the
remains he comes across in the excavations. At the Archaeological Museum he
told us a tiny bit about what he knows.
here with Joseba Rios Garaizar. Hi, Joseba, all set?
Hi, ready to go
were to take a Neanderthal, dress him or her in either your clothes or mine,
and put him or her on the Bilbao metro, would he or she stand out?
don’t think so. Apart from that, in our society we are rarely aware of other
people. It would be impossible to pick him or her out if he or she were dressed
in normal clothes and a hat.
And If I
were to say to someone: “Hey, you’re a Neanderthal.” What am I doing? Insulting
that person or saying something true as well?
I reckon your intention would have been to insult that person. So, it wouldn't
have been something true, but it wouldn’t have come across as an insult,
either, would it?
And what is it about Neanderthals that arouses
such morbid curiosity?
I’ve always thought that discovering another species is what arouses morbid
curiosity, to find yourself in front of another species; to see that we are
very, very similar, but a little bit different as well. I think that is what
arouses the morbid curiosity.
What has been the most erroneous opinion about
It has always been thought that they were very
stupid, not very developed, that they did not have, for example, the capacity
to think about the future. In recent years this has been shown to be false.
example, what strikes people is that they were cannibals, but so is our own
that’s possible, but so is our species, too. So… well…
Is there something you don't know about them
but would love to know?
I’d like to know how a Neanderthal society functioned: how they looked after
their young, the old people; how power was controlled, their relationships, and
things like that.
kind of economy did they have? Did they organise themselves, I don’t know,
Yes, that’s it; from the perspective of
anthropology. To do an ethnographic study on the Neanderthals. I don't know, go
off to the jungle now, to Brazil, and find Neanderthals there and study them
from the perspective of anthropology.
And how do you know so much about the
I’ve spent many years studying Neanderthal remains in the Basque Country, and
in France, too… And you read about them, visit the sites, talk to and argue
with other researchers. And that’s it.
now you’re hooked on the Neanderthals.
totally. It’s a fascinating subject.
you’ve convinced us. Thanks a lot.
to you too! Bye!