Centered in the Dordogne region of Southwestern France, one of Europe's most concentrated regions for Neandertal and early modern human occupations, writer Beebe Bahrami follows and participates in the work of archaeologists who are doing some of the most comprehensive and global work to date on the research, exploration, and recovery of our ancient ancestors. From this prehistoric perch, Bahrami gets to know firsthand the Neandertals and the people who love them - those who have devoted their lives to them. She is thrown into a world debating not only what happened to these close cousins but also what legacy they have left for those who followed. Cafe Neandertal is also a detective story, investigating one of the biggest mysteries of prehistory and archaeology: Who were the Neandertals? Why did they disappear around 35,000 years ago? And, more mysteriously, what light do they shed on us moderns? Bahrami takes listeners into the thick of an excavation, neck deep in Neanderthal dirt, and to the front row of the heated debates about our long-lost cousins.
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Fascinating Study of Archeology and Neandertals
Yes. It's a very engaging listen, partly a (maybe slightly romanticized?) tribute to what it's like to work on an archeological dig, part travelogue of southern France and northern Spain, part mystery filled with a cast of colorful characters. It's also stuffed full of information about the current state of the art of our understanding of Neandertals. The science reporting seems solid. There's a lot to learn here and if I make it over to that part of the world I'd definitely listen again.
I liked how the author made the science understandable. I found the whole thing very compelling. The author is telling a personal story of working on the dig and meeting and interviewing researchers and locals alike. She's our ambassador into the world of Neandertal archeology (she's an anthropologist by training and travel writer by profession) and she's a charming and at times funny companion. There's also some great descriptions of the french countryside and some wonderful meals.
The narrator does a great job. There are many terms in foreign languages, as well as technical terms and to my ear she got them all correct.
No, it was easy to listen to in fairly short sessions and it was nice to have a chance to think about things between.
I found the sections on new discoveries based on DNA testing to be fascinating. For instance, scientists are getting a better idea of Neandertal diet by doing dna testing on the plaque of their teeth! It makes me curious to find out how much Neandertal DNA I have.
Everything Neandertal nicely rapped up