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This article is about the valley in Germany. For the extinct hominid species/subspecies named for the valley, see Neanderthal.
Location of Neandertal, Germany

The Neandertal (English pronunciation: /ˌnˈændərˌtɑːl/; German: [neˈandɐtaːl]) (sometimes called in English "the Neander Valley") is a small valley of the river Düssel in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, located about 12 km (7.5 mi) east of Düsseldorf, the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia. The valley belongs to the area of the towns Erkrath and Mettmann. In August 1856, the area became famous for the discovery of Neanderthal 1, the first specimen of Homo neanderthalensis to be found.

The Neandertal was originally a limestone canyon widely known for its rugged scenery, waterfalls and caves. However, industrial mining during the 19th and 20th centuries removed almost all of the limestone and dramatically changed the shape of the valley. It was during such a mining operation that the bones of the original Neanderthal man were found in a cave. Neither the cave nor the cliff in which it was located exists anymore.

During the 19th century the valley was called Neandershöhle (Neander's Hollow), and after 1850 Neanderthal (Neander Valley). It was named after Joachim Neander, a 17th-century German pastor. Neander is the Greek translation of his family name Neumann — both names meaning "new man". He lived nearby in Düsseldorf and loved the valley for giving him the inspiration for his compositions. Former names of the gorge were Das Gesteins (The Rockiness) and Das Hundsklipp (Cliff of dogs, perhaps in a sense like "Beastly Cliff").

In 1901 an orthographic reform in Germany changed the spelling of Thal (valley) to Tal. The scientific names like Homo neanderthalensis or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis for Neanderthal man are not affected by this change, because the laws of taxonomy retain the original spelling at the time of naming. Neanderthal station nearby still carries the name Neanderthal, because the nearby Neanderthal Museum continues to have the old spelling.[1]

Excavations in the Neandertal Valley Since the first finding of the specimen of the valley there have been more excavations. It has been said that there have been multiple artifacts and human skeletal fragments found from the valley. There have been excavations done in the valley: these excavations have found two cranial fragments that seem to fit onto the original Neandertal 1 calotte. A calotte is a skullcap worn by students at Catholic universities in Belgium. The excavations done in 1997 and 2000 have been the ones that have found new human skeletal pieces. There are questions about if these remains are of the Neandertals. As referenced earlier, two cranial pieces were found: one, a left zygomatic and partial body and second, a right piece of temporal bone. These pieces have been seen as a perfect fit to the Neandertal 1 calotte. Although these pieces are not specifically from the Neandertals. These findings may or may not be relatable to the Neandertals but have similar characteristics to them. [2]


  1. ^ "Neandertal oder Neanderthal? - Was ist denn nun richtig?" (in German). Town of Mettmann. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Schmitz, R. W., Serre, D., Bonani, G., Feine, S., Hillgruber, F., Krainitzki, H., ... & Smith, F. H. (2002)

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