Original Research

An African-study of the contribution of Neanderthals to funeral rituals

Agai M. Jock
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 47, No 1 | a173 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v47i1.173 | © 2023 Agai M. Jock | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 July 2022 | Published: 07 June 2023

About the author(s)

Agai M. Jock, Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa, South Africa


Neanderthals are at the moment regarded as the originators of funeral rituals. The connection of the Neanderthals to Africa is understudied and in most cases not conclusive yet Africans practice funeral rituals as if it is the primary reason for their existence. Considering the importance of funerals to the African man and woman, there is a need to understand why there is lesser interest or lesser research on the connection between Neanderthals and the early humans who lived in Africa. Using references from researches carried out about funeral items found in Neanderthal graves and citing Yoruba burial rites as an example of a funeral ritual, I investigated the role of Africa in initiating the afterlife beliefs in addition to funeral rituals. The primary purpose of this research is to clearly show the gap created in the study about how funeral rituals started in Africa. The researcher observed that the contribution of early humans to the study of human development in Africa is understudied.

Contribution: There is a general view that the Neanderthals contributed so much to the civilization of modern humans. The theories pertaining to the origins of funeral rituals are at present attributed to them. The archaeological or paleontological remains of Neanderthals have not been found in Africa. Many questions are raised regarding the role of Africa in initiating and spreading beliefs that pertained to funerals. Scholars in the fields of anthropology, archaeology and comparative religion will benefit from this research because it raises questions on the need to debate the contribution of Africa to the study of funeral rituals.


Africa; ancient Egypt; funeral; Neanderthals; rituals; Yorubas.


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