Face to face with Gibraltar’s Neanderthals
The faces of Gibraltar’s Neanderthal ancestors have been forensically reconstructed and are to go on exhibition at the Gibraltar Museum.
Gibraltar 1 and Gibraltar 2, the Neanderthal skulls discovered on the Rock in the nineteenth century, have been the subject of a reconstruction project that began 18 months ago.
The public will be able to view them as from Saturday in a new extension in the Gibraltar Museum.
Gibraltar 2, a five-year old Neanderthal child, has been renamed ‘Flint’, while Gibraltar 1 – a 35-year old female specimen and old by Neanderthal standards – will be known as ‘Nana’.
“I think it is very moving to see the faces of people from maybe 60,000 years ago,” Professor Clive Finlayson of the Gibraltar Museum said yesterday.
“I’ve always worked with skulls and bones and to actually…see the child’s face is like, wow,” he exclaimed, adding: “It really catches your attention.”
The Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia and Ministers Dr John Cortes and Steven Linares were given a tour of the exhibition ahead of its official opening.
“It’s not a model and it’s not a mannequin, it’s real,” Professor Finlayson said.
“It’s a forensic reconstruction so the structure of the face and everything that you see is based on the skull and so on.”
“Using other Neanderthal bones the scientists have been able to extrapolate, so we know the exact height and we have calculated the ages,” Professor Finlayson added.
He expressed amazement at what can be achieved nowadays with just a few bone fragments.
“And the product is there for people to go and see,” he said.
Mr Picardo said that when Professor Finlayson first told him of the possibility of recreating faces from the Neanderthal skulls, he found it ‘irresistible’.
“Clive whet my appetite last week when I visited Gorham’s Cave for the first time and I was able to see the fantastic work that has been done there by the team of the Gibraltar Museum and by international teams trying to understand the wealth of Neanderthal material that there is in Gibraltar and particularly in those caves,” he added.
“The search for who we are and who we come from can actually be visual in Gibraltar once we see the faces of these very early Gibraltarians, so I am delighted that we are going to open this new extension today,” Mr Picardo said.