Friday, February 03, 2012

Neanderthals, the Hebrew Creation Myth, the Exodus, & the Sacred Land

י״א בשבט תשע"ב
Imbolgen 13
Rowan 15

Modern Humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) first evolved in Africa, while Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) evolved in Europe, Asia and the Middle East but not in Africa (where Modern Humans first evolved as a species roughly parallel in time with Neanderthal evolution in Eurasia and the Middle East). Given this fact of prehistory, it may be our Neanderthal blood, so to speak, which gives voice to the deep longings that we find in many peoples toward the Sacred Lands outside of Africa. In other words, since Africa is the cradle from which Modern Humans first evolved, one would expect that all Modern Humans would feel the deepest connection to Africa as a Sacred Land, but this is not the case. We have to explain why so many of us feel so essentially connected to the Sacred Lands where the Neanderthals evolved as a species distinct from Modern Humans. New scientific research has concluded that Neanderthals and Modern Humans lived side by side together in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for at least 15,000 years.

Neanderthals and Modern Humans share a common ancestor. Recent genetic research has proven that up to 4% genes in all non-African people (people of European, Asian and Middle Eastern ancestry since the first migration of Homo sapiens sapiens out of Africa) are indeed Neanderthal (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis), demonstrating that Modern Humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) and Neanderthals (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) did interbreed at some remote time in the past (probably before our chromosome 2 fused, giving us 46 chromosomes in contrast to the 48 chromosomes possessed by Neanderthals).

We learn that interbreeding first took place in the Middle East:

The Neanderthal, sometimes spelled Neandertal, is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia. Genetic evidence suggests interbreeding took place with anatomically modern humans between roughly 80,000 and 50,000 years ago in the Middle East, resulting in 1–4% of the genome of people from Eurasia having been contributed by Neanderthals.

We are further informed in the same article, of the common ancestor shared by Modern Humans and Neanderthals:

The last common ancestor between anatomically modern Homo sapiens [Homo sapiens sapiens] and Neanderthals [Homo sapiens neanderthalensis] appears to be Homo rhodesiensis ... Homo rhodesiensis arose in Africa an estimated 0.7 to 1 million years ago. The earliest estimates for Homo rhodesiensis reaching Europe are approximately 800 thousand years ago when a type of human referred to as Homo antecessor or Homo cepranensis already inhabited the region. These two human types may be forerunners to European Homo heidelbergensis; however, stone tools dating from 1.2 to 1.56 million years ago of an unknown creator have been discovered in south-western Europe.

This means that the spiritual roots of people with European, Asian and Middle Eastern ancestry, through our Neanderthal ancestors (and possibly through these "other" Eurasian hominid ancestors who likely also interbred with Neanderthals), may pierce through prehistory and be connected to the Sacred Lands of Europe, Asia and the Middle East as far back as 1.5 MILLION YEARS. Amazing, I think.

Taking all this together, I could also go so far as to posit that it is a Modern Human (Homo sapiens sapiens) trait to feel somewhat disconnected from the Sacred Land, because what do Modern Humans do very well? We migrate, and we have migrated all over the world, driving all other hominid species to extinction in our wake. It's conceivable then, that Neanderthals were more land-connected creatures than are we, since we don't find that Neanderthals migrated into Africa (as Modern Humans migrated out of it). Modern Humans first met Neanderthals in the Middle East, where the mythic story of human beings created from the Sacred Land first arose (as recorded in Hebrew Sacred Writings and partially in the text of Genesis, for instance). I could further posit from this that the creation myth of Adam and Lilith from the Sacred Land is ultimately sourced in our Neanderthal prehistory - an encoded remembrance of sorts giving honor to our Neanderthal and non-Homo sapiens sapiens bloodline and to our connection to the Sacred Land from which our non-Homo sapiens sapiens ancestors evolved.

I can continue ... to posit that the Exodus story is similarly related to the first migration of Homo sapiens sapiens out of Africa, into the Middle East and beyond. Strikingly, the "biblical migration" out of Africa leads us to encounter the Promised Land - another hint leading us toward our Neanderthal ancestry and its intimate connection with the Sacred Land. We have no religious or spiritual connection to the Sacred Land, until we meet up with the Neanderthals in the Middle East. It is our meeting up with the Neanderthals and the Neanderthals themselves who instill in us a living connection to the Sacred Land.

The creation myth of Adam and Lilith from the Sacred Land, the Exodus story, and our deeply felt passion for the Sacred Land - all of these things may be Tradition stories related to our Neanderthal heritage and to the ancestral heritage bequeathed to us by those "other" European, Asian and Middle Eastern hominids who loved and lived in the Sacred Land before us.

No comments:

Dare to be true to yourself.