Den 13. okt. 2008 kl. 21.29 skreiv Jörg Rhiemeier:

> I don't consider it very likely, but possible.  "Cultural" evolution
> among hominids before _Homo sapiens_ was incredibly slow - a hand-axe
> made 300,000 years ago doesn't look any different from one made
> 400,000 years ago, for instance, while it is just 100,000 years from
> hand-axes to modern technology.  *Something* must have happened when
> _Homo sapiens_ arrived on the scene.  The early hominids (up to and
> including Neanderthals) evidently were unable to *invent* anything,
> and it is well known that not a shred of evidence of artistic
> behaviour (which is of course an anthropological universal as for
> our species) has been found.

Exactly, that is my opinion, too. Of course, they could have been  
great philosophers, concentrating only on inner matters. But I think  
the inventiveness is very tightly bound to a modern, fully symbolic  
language. You cannot have one without the other. Still I have for a  
long time thought that some form of symbolic communication must have  
existed before modern man. Homo erectus existed for a long time, and  
during this time, his brain just about doubled in size. Since his  
material culture does not change appreciably, my best guess is that  
this brain growth is due to some growth in linguistic ability,  
preparing for the advent of modern man, so to speak.

> They were qualitatively less creative
> than we are; it may indeed be the case that their behaviour was to
> a much larger extent genetically conditioned than ours.  I also
> consider it unlikely that such hidebound beings had languages as
> complex as ours.  (Which would also rule out a Neanderthal origin
> of Indo-European, because Proto-Indo-European, as far as we can tell,
> was a full-fledged human languages with all complexities and
> subtleties of modern languages, except, of course, words for things
> not yet invented or discovered back then.)

Well, the original question wasn't about the Neanderthal origin of IE  
specifically, if I recall right, but about the curious coincidence of  
the spatial distributions of Neanderthals and PIE. Of course, given  
that there are a 20-odd millennia between the Neanderthals and PIE,  
whatever they left behind would have plenty of time to fuse and  
develop into something fully-fledged.

Anyhow I didn't know that the spatial distribution of PIE was so well  
mapped at all. If it is, the explanation is probably that both were  
able to find and exploit the best areas.

> They definitely had "some communicative ability", probably much more
> than chimps can manage, but nobody knows to which extent it equalled
> the languages of our species.

Chimps can manage quite a bit. They have names, they have calls for  
almost any emotion you could name, and they have "songs" describing  
the location and characteristics of foods.

> As for not being fully sapient, the
> case is indeed not closed yet, but "burials" or at least systematic
> disposal of dead bodies are known from various sedentary non-human
> animals including bees and some species of burrowing rodents, and the
> decorative items found at Neanderthal sites date from a period when
> Cro-Magnon humans already had arrived on the scene, not earlier.

Interesting fact, and charming somehow. Probably, "we" weren't busy  
wiping them out all the time. Evidently they liked our decorative  
items. Either they copied us or got hold of our items in some way or