“One assemblage in France, dated between 39,000 and 34,000 years ago, has bone and shell
pendants, carved teeth and beads, as well as finely worked tools like the Cro-Magnons used. But the only bones found with this technology are Neanderthal.” Karen Wright, “Neanderthals Like Us,” Discover, March 2002, p.
“Pieces of red ochre, fossil skulls, and curiously shaped stones have also been found in the caves of the late Neanderthal. This tendency to collect curios marks the first beginning of an
artistic sense.” ~ Andre Leroi Gourhan, The Hunters of Prehistory, transl. Claire Jacobson, (New York: Atheneum, 1989), p. 53-54
“The diversity in the treatment of the dead would appear upon examination in the burial place of Regourdou (Dordogne)where a young adult male was found at one end of a stone-lined pit, with what is thought to be carefully arranged bones of a brown bear at the other; or of the Shanidar Cave in Iraq, where the body of one of the nine Neandertals discovered was supposedly buried within a pit lined with pine boughs and covered with flowers, according to the interpretation provided by pollen analysis.” ~ Michael Barbaza, “From the Middle Paleolithic to the Epipaleolithic in the Old World,” in Jean Guilaine, Prehistory, (New York: Facts on File, 1991), p. 59-60
“Most important, the very fact that so many Neandertal skeletons had turned up over the years indicated that they had been buried intentionally. At Le Moustier in southern France, a
young man’s body was found sprinkled with red ochre and buried in a flexed position, as if in sleep. His head rested on a pillow of flints, and burned wild cattle bones were scattered about as if in offering.” ~ James Shreeve, The Neandertal Enigma, (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1995), p. 53
Music. I think it looks just like a flute, and so do the majority of the people that examined it. It’s been worked out that there were four holes, the end two are only partially visible, and the placing seems to correlated with a diatonic musical scale. It’s been estimated the flute would have been about 37cm long intact. It’s from the Divje Babe I cave in northwestern Slovenia, between 43,000 and 82,000 years old. Older than the oldest known modern human instrument in Henan, China.
Medicine. Some skulls had been trepanned (drilled), probably to relieve pressure from a head injury. The patients lived long enough for the injuries to heal. Elderly and injured people were cared for, as remains showing severe arthritis were found, and someone that ill couldn’t have hunted for himself. One individual had a badly damaged toothless jaw, and would had to have been fed a near pureed diet for about six months before he could chew anything. 170,000 and 190,000 years old, France.
Mining. There’s a Neanderthal chert mine in Bulgaria, over 40,000 years old, tying with the Lions cave haematite mine in Swazi for the position of oldest known mine.
Another, slightly racist, inaccuracy in the way they are depicted is with dark skin and big thick lips. for a start, lips like that wouldn’t do well in a freezing winter, and you’d expect the males to have thick beards to protect their faces from the cold. It’s been shown that they had a mutation on the MCR1 gene that would have made them light skinned and haired, probably ginger haired. just like modern Europeans, although that particular gene doesn’t match the current known gene for red hair. They would have had long hair too, to keep their necks warm. I’m thinking they probably looked a bit like the Icelandic strong men you see.
An example of how the same Neanderthal was reconstucted by different museums.