June 30, 2022

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Harvard Book Store, the Harvard University Division of Science, and the Harvard Library welcome archaeologist, author, and Honorary Fellow at the University of Liverpool REBECCA WRAGG SYKES for a discussion of her new book Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art. She is joined in conversation by JULIE LAWRENCE—paleoanthropologist and historian of science at Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology.


In Kindred, Neanderthal expert Rebecca Wragg Sykes shoves aside the cliché of the shivering ragged figure in an icy wasteland, and reveals the Neanderthal you don’t know, our ancestor who lived across vast and diverse tracts of Eurasia and survived through hundreds of thousands of years of massive climate change. This book sheds new light on where they lived, what they ate, and the increasingly complex Neanderthal culture that researchers have discovered.

Since their discovery 150 years ago, Neanderthals have gone from the losers of the human family tree to A-list hominins. Our perception of the Neanderthal has changed dramatically, but despite growing scientific curiosity, popular culture fascination, and a wealth of coverage in the media and beyond are we getting the whole story? The reality of 21st century Neanderthals is complex and fascinating, yet remains virtually unknown and inaccessible outside the scientific literature.

Based on the author’s first-hand experience at the cutting-edge of Palaeolithic research and theory, this easy-to-read but information-rich book lays out the first full picture we have of the Neanderthals, from amazing new discoveries changing our view of them forever, to the more enduring mysteries of how they lived and died, and the biggest question of them all: their relationship with modern humans.

About Author(s)

Rebecca Wragg Sykes has been fascinated by the vanished worlds of the Pleistocene ice ages since childhood, and followed this interest through a career researching the most enigmatic characters of all, the Neanderthals. Rebecca is an Honorary Fellow at the School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. Rebecca regularly writes for the popular media, including the Scientific American and Guardian science blogs. She is also co-founder of the influential Trowelblazers project, which highlights women archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists through innovative outreach and collaboration.

Julie Lawrence is a paleoanthropologist and historian of science currently based at Harvard University’s Department of Human Evolutionary Biology. Her work largely focuses on the evolution of the human face—from changes four million years ago in the teeth and faces of our first upright ancestors to understanding the diversity of facial forms today. With her expertise in 3D imaging and analysis, as well as broad experience examining ancient, fossil, and modern skeletons, Julie explores how evolution, growth, and behavior has shaped the way we look.