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Retired Archaeologist Remembers Digging in Iraq

Friday, July 12, 2013


SOUTH ORANGE, NEW JERSEY—Archaeologists Ralph and Rose Solecki excavated in Iraq during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Now 95 years old, Ralph Solecki recounts his experiences digging in Shanidar Cave, where he discovered four sets of Neanderthal remains, held at the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. One of the male skeletons was missing part of an arm, and his teeth were worn from compensating for his missing hand. “This was a major find because Neanderthal remains hadn’t yet been found in this region. …From the excavation, we know that the region’s Neanderthals hunted and took care of their wounded and older members and that they buried their dead. They also used fires for cooking and other social activities,” he said.