by Gerd-Christian Weniger
Towards a Transnational Serial Nomination of European Neanderthal Sites
More than a thousand sites in 167 countries are already inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Yet only a handful of them are discovery sites of human fossils from the Ice Age.
In general, the early human history and the cultural heritage of the Ice Age have a very low visibility: No spectacular architecture rises into the sky, no impressive walls surround the area. Instead, a cave or the unspectacular surface of an open-air site characterizes the place.
But all the more spectacular are the respective circumstances and the scientific significances of the finds that were made there. Milestones of human development with global consequences become tangible in many of those places.
The HEADS program of UNESCO (Human Evolution: Adaptations, Dispersals and Social Developments; see http://whc.unesco.org/en/heads) has been able to convincingly document the extraordinary importance and contribution of the early history of mankind to the world heritage.
Global players of the Ice Age heritage are the Neanderthals. Starting with the discovery made in the world-famous Neandertal near Düsseldorf, Germany, the social and scientific coordination system of modern humans was repositioned. Numerous discovery sites have now been added in Europe and Asia. They document a fascinating history of development. Today, Neanderthals are a synonym for the people of the Ice Age - their way of life, their knowledge and their abilities. And as we know today, a part of their genetic heritage lives on in us modern humans.
On 2 and 3 November 2017, an international workshop with 30 experts in the field will take place at the Neanderthal Museum, Germany. Its aim is to evaluate the network of European Neanderthal sites with its unique findings in order to initiate a transnational serial nomination of this world heritage.
The workshop is supported by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Communities and Local Government, Construction and Equality of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and Ice Age Europe - Network of Heritage Sites.
Director Neanderthal Museum