The Clan of the Cave Bear Historical Context

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What Happened to the Neanderthals

Perhaps the people most frustrated with the commercial success of The Clan of the Cave Bearare anthropologists and archaeologists. The problems revolve around Auel's physical descriptions of the Clan—whom she never calls Neanderthals— and her wholesale creation of their culture. While the theories surrounding the disappearance of Neanderthal peoples from Europe and Asia are still the subject of much scholarly debate, the vast majority of anthropologists and archaeologists agree (and agreed even at the time Auel was doing her research for the novel) that there was not an exaggerated physical difference between Neanderthal and modern humans.

William Straus and A. J. E. Cave stated in 1957 that "If [Neanderthal Man] could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway—provided that he were bathed, shaved, and dressed in modern clothing—it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention" than...

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This section contains 780 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Clan of the Cave Bear Study Guide
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Novels for Students
The Clan of the Cave Bear from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.