Neanderthals and Denisovans, and possibly other early human species, are not totally extinct in the sense that some of their DNA circulates within living human populations, including the majority of the probable visitors to the exhibition.
This is a research-based project making imaginative use of the scientific data speculating on both the physical and cultural inheritance left to us by the Neanderthals. Their popular image since the first fossil finds in the 19th century has been of hairy, low-browed, unintelligent and even stupid beings incapable of symbolic thought who, perhaps deservedly, were killed by invading humans. That picture has been overturned in 2010 by DNA discoveries which revealed that Neanderthals and modern humans had at some point interbred – and that those offspring must have survived. While the circumstances of such interbreeding can’t be recovered, the discoveries do suggest that early humans did not always kill other forms of humans -i.e. their interaction was not always predicated on violence incited by difference. The archaeological record also makes it quite clear that migration was an early feature of human life and suggests that cross-cultural interaction and the borrowing of material and social traits may also have occurred between modern humans and early human forms such as the Neanderthals.