Just a fraction of a second

Visit to the Neanderthal Museum, Düsseldorf, Germany

This blog is about a museum that made me and my husband so overwhelmed to the point that we had tears in our eyes throughout the experience. Last summer we visited my sister in Germany. My husband and I love to explore off beat spots. Most people in India do 10 days 10 countries in Europe and we ended up traveling around only half of Germany in one month. Not claiming which is better but I feel slow travel has its charm. It soothes you. You are blessed with the gift of time to process what you have observed and experienced. We spent days viewing the old castles, learning about the history. Took hikes in Grimm Brothers’ black forest. Walking that “impenetrable darkness” had a magical healing effect on us. And of course whichever city we visited we made sure to visit the museums.

Well thought out museums which leave an impact on your mind and makes you think for days together are always worth experiencing. I later found out that there is something called as Museology that is Museum Studies. Neanderthal Museum of Düsseldorf can definitely be a part of the curriculum. A great example of showcasing the history of humanity.

So our journey started with a visit to Düsseldorf, a charming city situated on the banks of Rhine and Düssel river. Neander Valley or Neanderthal (thal in is valley in German) is a small valley of Düssel river located about 12km. from the city of Düsseldorf. Over 150 years ago the remains of an ancestral man was found here which was then named after the valley. Hence the name, “Neanderthal man”. This was the site of the first discovery of a Neanderthal anywhere in the world. The skeleton was discovered in 1856 as a result of the limestone quarrying that had commenced during the industrialization of Germany. Workers discovered skeleton bones in a cave, which were later identified as the remains of early humans.

Neanderthal museum is situated just about 400 meters from this discovery site. It is a visitor magnet. If you are interested in history it definitely should be on your bucket list. You would think that the main attraction is the remains of Neanderthal and they are but they are displayed right in the beginning and and more focus is on the journey of mankind. Which leaves a very powerful impact.

Just as you enter the exhibit a large hourglass catches your attention. Each grain of sand is equal to 100 years, one second for a human lifetime. By that scale, the Neanderthals lived five minutes ago, hominins for the last eleven hours.  Life on Earth began 440 days ago. Such a limited time we have got on this beautiful planet. This gives you a perspective and sense of time. My husband always says days are longer, years are shorter. But when I was standing in front of this gigantic hourglass, realized a lifetime is just a fraction of a second.

As you proceed, the history of mankind unfolds. From our origins on the African savanna more than four million years ago to the present day. In the Stone Age Workshop, visitors can make flint knives and even equip themselves with a bow and arrow for an authentic Ice Age hunt. Weapons are most definitely not allowed, however, in the nearby Ice Age Game Reserve. This is the home of European bison and the offspring of aurochs and wild horses – animals which lived in the Ice Age and which died out in Europe hundreds of years ago. Now we can see them at any time of the day or night.

Throughout the experience what I kept thinking was our body is a brilliant machine. If you are asked how your forefathers looked like you will not be able to answer but their nose is sitting on your face. Body is a collection of thousands of memories. Mind often forgets but the body remembers everything. It remembers touch, sensations. It remembers to differentiate between the pleasant and unpleasant. In India we fold hands and greet people just to avoid the touch of the other. Touch creates a bond. We call it ऋणानुबंध (Rananubanadh). A debt. If we touch too many people it is considered we are creating chaotic experience for the body. This ऋणानुबंध (Rananubanadh), is it just with people we come across during our lifetime? Life is a gift which has been passed down through so many generations, even from different species than we are today. Human fetus takes shape of different animals in womb while developing. For instance, since all vertebrates (animals with backbones) evolved from a common ancestor, the genetic information that guides their development is nearly the same. Aren’t we in debt of these ancestors? Of course we are!

This thought became strong as we exited the museum. Felt more connected and more grounded.


4 thoughts on “Just a fraction of a second

  1. Your love to explore off beat spots has given us this nice article.
    Neatherthals lived for last five minutes and earth began 440 days ago means humans have just entered on the planet.
    Living things have evolved for millions of years. Our body is complex machine filled with chemicals. Heart is *’super pump’*, eyes are *’super camera’*, ears are *’super microphone’*, lungs are *’super filter’*, brain is more than a thousand *’super computers’* and so on.
    As you have said, we are certainly debt of our ancestors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for always reading my blogs minutely. And for not giving up on me and encouraging me to write again. The description of human body is so apt which you have mentioned in your comment!
      Will try to be consistent with blogging and cover all the trips so far. Many are pending


  2. Nice post & well elaboration of Neanderthal. Unfortunately in our India these things are neglected.

    Keep writing.
    When you will be in India surely we will try to meet. सह्याद्री मधली भटकंती आणि गड किल्ले बघतानाचा त्यांनी अंगा खांद्यावर खेळवलेला इतिहास ऐकताना सुद्धा असा रोमांचकारी अनुभव येईल!
    माझे डिटेल्स तुझे आई बाबा देतीलच

    Liked by 1 person

    1. नक्की! 2019 ते 2022 भारतात होते. राजगड सगळ्यात आवडला. Covid मुळे भटकंती कमी झाली. पण सुट्टी साठी आले की नक्की एखादा किल्ला सोबत करू.


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