Neanderthal

Feldhofer Grotte


Useful Information

Location: Talstr. 300, 40822 Mettmann.
A3 intersection A46 towards Wuppertal, exit Hochdahl, towards Hochdahl 4 km.
(51.226507, 6.950967)
Open: All year Tue-Sun 10-18.
Closed 25-DEC, 31-DEC.
[2023]
Fee: Adults EUR 13, Children (6-16) EUR 8.50, Children (4-5) EUR 7, Students free, Disabled frei, Apprentices frei.
Families (1+1): Adults EUR 11,05, Children (6-16) EUR 7.23, Children (4-5) EUR 5,95.
Online-Discount EUR 0,50.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave ExplainLost Caves SubterraneaCave and Karst Museums
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:
Guided tours: self guided. Audio guide in 15 languages as download and as app.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography: Jörg Orschiedt, Gerd-Christian Weniger (Hg.) (2000): Neanderthals and Modern Humans - Discussing the Transition. Central and Eastern Europe from 50.000 - 30.000 B.P. Wissenschaftliche Schriften des Neanderthal Museums, 2.
Address: Neanderthal Museum, Talstr. 300, 40822 Mettmann, Tel: +49-2104-9797-0, Fax: +49-2104-9797-96. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1823 First written mention of Neanderhöhle (Neander's Cave).
1835 First written mention of the Neanders Stuhl (Neander chair).
AUG-1856 Bones discovered and given to Johann Karl Fuhlrott.
1863 Irish geologist William King first introduces Homo Neanderthalensis King.
1901 due to the spelling reform, the Neanderthal is renamed Neandertal.

Description

The Neanderthal (Neander Valley) near Düsseldorf was once a 50 m deep narrow gorge. The romantic gorge with nine caves and two waterfalls was a famous sight. The popular excursion destination was sung about by the poets of the time. Artists from the Düsseldorf School of Art used it for practice, and so more than 150 works of art still exist depicting the valley. Originally, the gorge was called the Gesteins, but in fact it is part of the valley of the Düssel, after which Düsseldorf is named. The Reformed clergyman, hymn writer and composer Joachim Neander (*1650-✝1680) was a teacher at the Latin School in Düsseldorf from 1674. He visited the romantic valley frequently, also to hold church service meetings there. Quite in the style of Dead Poets' Club, he made so-called edification lessons for his pupils, and was admonished for it. So two places in the valley were soon named after him. The Leuchtenburg (light castle), a through-cave with a 30 m long, 8 m wide and 5 m high curved cave passage, was later renamed Neanders Höhle or Neanderhöhle (Neander's cave). It was the largest cave in the valley at that time and famous for the light effects through the two portals as well as the impressive acoustics during thunderstorms. The first written mention of the name was in 1823. The lookout points on the rocks were also given names, the Kanzlei (Chancellery), Neanders Stuhl, and the Predigtstuhl. The name Neanders Stuhl was first documented in 1835. After that, the name Neanderthal became common for the entire section of the valley.

In 1856, workers of the limestone quarry discovered some bones in the Feldhofer Grotte. During the quarrying of the limestone, caves were repeatedly discovered or known caves were destroyed, so it probably happened that they cleared out the cave to remove the clay. And so there was a bone discovery that changed the world. The workers thought it was the remains of a bear and gave the bones to the amateur naturalist Johann Karl Fuhlrott. The bones were a partial skeleton of a human, but it had a peculiar shape, especially the skull. It was examined by the Irish geologist William King, who interpreted it as another human species. In 1863, in a lecture to the geological section of the British Association for the Advancement of Sciences, he discussed the deviations from the skull shape of modern humans and introduced the scientific name Homo Neanderthalensis King. The doyen of German anthropology and prehistoric research, Rudolf Virchow, examined the bones in 1872. He considered the find to be a pathologically deformed skull of a modern human and rejected the thesis of a prehistoric man. It must be admitted that a single find is a little weak, yet his authority prevented any research in this direction in the German-speaking world until his death in 1902. In general, it was debated until the 1990s whether it was a separate species or a subspecies of Homo sapiens. This question was only clarified with genetic analyses, according to which Homo erectus, which is documented in Africa, is the last common ancestor of the two.

In the 19th century, the valley was still called Neanderthal with th. Accordingly, the newly discovered man was called Homo neanderthalensis, i.e. man from the Neanderthal. The valley itself no longer exists today, it was completely destroyed by limestone quarrying in the second half of the 19th century. In addition, the spelling reform of 1901 removed the h from many words, so that the valley was now called Neandertal. So a valley that no longer exists today, just like the cave, became world-famous.

In today's Neandertal, about 10 metres below the famous site, is the modern Neanderthal Museum. The site of the discovery is marked by a work of art, a sculpture that refers to the cave that no longer exists. The monument consists of four couches built of the local limestone. Visitors can lay down and look up to the immaterial cave above. Only a few years ago, the term Lost Cave was coined for such caves.