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I came across this today, and it made me tear up a bit. A poem by Karen Anderson (wife of sf writer Poul Anderson). For those who don’t know, Shanidar IV is a Neanderthal specimen, found in a grave site. This from “The Unicorn Trade” by Poul and Karen Anderson. The excerpt from Science magazine is included as part of the piece.

“Shanidar IV

‘The discovery of pollen clusters of different flowers in the grave of one of the Neanderthals, No. IV at Shanidar Cave, Iraq, furthers our acceptance of the Neanderthals in our line of evolution. It suggests that, although the body was archaic, the spirit was modern.’


Ralph Solecki, ‘Shanidar IV, a Neanderthal Flower Burial in Northern Iraq,’ Science vol. 190, p. 880, 25 November 1975

Lay on his grave a springy bed of horsetail-

Over him scatter blooms of pungent yarrow,As if that healing herb might heal his death:

Blue cornflower strew, and clustered purple


Of the grape hyacinth; pluck yellow suns

From thistles which spread wide the longest


And with them sheafs of groundsel many-starred;

Bring in across the summer mountainside

From where each grows to solitary height

Rose-mallows bearing flowers as bright as blood.

Heap on him all that’s fair, our love to mark,

Ere we heap earth and leave him in the dark.”

Karen Anderson, 1982

When I was digging it was details like seeing the thumbprint of a long dead potter that made the past really come alive, and made the person real to me (OWYAC).

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