I think one of the reasons I like Twitter is because I can find things out quickly on stuff that interests me and during my time in Gibraltar I was seeing more and more posts from Gibraltar Museum on their new Neanderthal exhibition. Local people also (who knew I was doing walkabouts) were also giving me ideas (via Twitter) of where to go and what to see (which was great) and the Museum was always right up there among their recommendations and so it was just a matter of time before it had to happen.

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(Photo taken by me in Gibraltar Museum, May 2016).

Quite a lot of publicity was current (in May 2016) around the recreation of Neanderthal people in the form of models which were on display in the museum and although I’d seen the photos (which were awesome) I needed to go see the actual models which were said to be totally representative in actual size and as near the real image as could possibly be replicated. Excited didn’t even come close. 

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As I walked into the museum I (unceremoniously) bypassed all of the other exhibits (for now) because I so wanted to see the Neanderthal models first (and decided I could see everything else later). As I negotiated my way through a group of school children on a field trip I turned a corner and within seconds found myself standing (amidst a second class of school children) with my mouth hanging open looking breathtakingly at the most life-like realistic models of Neanderthals I could ever have imagined.

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Two characters stood lit up against a black back drop; a mother and child, created absolutely perfectly in every way – from the hair, adorned in feathers (possibly to fool prey while on the hunt or perhaps for decoration), right down to the toes. I was mesmerised, I couldn’t move. I’m not even sure if I could breathe; it was as though I’d just walked into their cave. Gorhams Cave? Even the children visiting the exhibition looked on in silence such was the impact of seeing these characters for the first time.

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Although I do love to study some aspects of history I’m very much hopelessly non-academic and could never profess to retain dates or other information in my head after a time and so could never pass an exam. Perhaps one of the few things I have retained about the Neanderthal people though is that the last of them probably lived in caves in Gibraltar something like 24000 years ago and yet when I look at the models of this mother and child (who lived an existence I can’t even imagine) I see that wonderful thing called love; it really is hard for me when I look into their eyes to believe they are not real. The mother looks to be very kind, happy and relaxed and her child appears very secure and attached to the parent so that the overall image is not only a joy to behold – for me the whole experience was profoundly moving.

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