Seven Ages of Man - 06 Dwarfs/The Neanderthals - Jane M Renfrew - The Tomb of the Bears
Type of Spiritual Experience
BEAR MEDICINE: Kara-ool Dopchun-ool, supreme Shaman of “The Spirit of Bear” society, conducts a medical session to cure a man, suffering from asthma and liver disease, at his residence in the Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva Republic in Siberia (Northern Asia), September 13, 2011. -In Siberia, the Bear is thought to mediate between the living and the dead, as the archetypal messenger to the supernatural world and as a great healer...
A description of the experience
Jane M Renfrew - Neanderthal symbolic behaviour – The Tomb of the Bears
At Regourdou two stone boxlike constructions had been made in the cave, capped by large stones-one weighing nearly a ton (Jelinek 1989: 47). Here a rectangular pit contained the bones, mainly skulls, of more than twenty cave bears, the other contained a complete cave bear skeleton (except for the skull) (Pfeifler 1985: 150). Another pit contained a Neanderthal burial with a cave bear humerus bone.
The Drachenloch cave at a height of eight thousand feet in the Swiss Alps, to the south of Lake Constance, was excavated by Emile Bachler between 1917 and 1923. The front part of the cave was occupied by Neanderthals, and a hearth between the second and third sections of the chamber has yielded a carbon 14 date of more than 50,000 B.P.
Further back in the cave Bachler found a cubical stone chest, something over a metre square, containing seven bear skulls with their muzzles facing the cave entrance topped by a capstone. At the back of the cave six bear skulls were found set in niches along the walls, some with limb bones, not necessarily from the same bear. One of the skulls of a three year old bear had a femur of a younger bear thrust through its zygomatic arch, which could not have happened naturally, and it rested on long bones from two other animals (Coles & Higgs 1969:256-7; Constable 1973: f 08-9).
It is a great misfortune that Bachler did not record his finds more systematically or give clear plans and sections of the stone chest in which the cave bear skulls were found. Another interesting find from Bruniquel in France where Mark Berkowitz reported a structure made from broken stalactites and stalagmites several hundred metres inside the cave, which contained a bunrt bear bone dated to 47,600 BP (Berkowitz L996: 22).
There are a number of other sites in Switzerland, France and Germany where cave bear skulls and bones and Mousterian tools have been found together.