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LifeinourVan Ed-Ventures | Discovering the history behind the Neanderthals

LifeinourVan Ed-Ventures | Discovering the history behind the Neanderthals

Roadschooling our children across Europe has allowed us to seek out plenty of new travel/education or adventure opportunities across Europe over the past two years. Hence the phrase ‘Ed-Ventures‘! So where better to find another ed-venture than learning about the Neanderthals in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf

check out our Top 12 European Ed-Ventures here

They say “The beautiful thing about learning is that no-one can take it away from you”…. So we’ve hope you too can enjoy one of our favourite ‘Ed-Ventures’ from across Europe at the impressive Neanderthal Museum only a short distance away from where the Neanderthals were first found in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The first settlers arrived in Europe some 2,000,000 years ago, but it wasn’t until the end of the last major Ice Age between 12,000BC and 8,000BC that humans (homo-sapiens) really took hold. As the glaciers and ice sheets retreated, hunter gatherer tribes extended their reach northwards in search of new land… but who were Europe’s earliest settlers? Who were these Neo-lithic tribes?  and were these the race of people we now know as the ‘Neanderthals’?

Were they responsible for the burial mounds, barrows, stone circles and alignments across Europe (including Stonehenge, England or Carnac in France)

Europe is undoubtedly a place where history seems to seep into every corner – from Sicily’s ‘Valley of the Temples‘ to Portugal’s ‘World of Discoveries‘ in Porto. Both are well worth a visit, much like this fantastically interactive museum which is well positioned outside of the hustle, bustle of the city of Dusseldorf…. and is even set in the Neander Valley itself!

In 1856, here in the Neander Valley, quarry workers discovered the bones of an Ice Age human – and so the story of the Neanderthals arrived. Today, the legend of the Neanderthals is well known but even so, it’s a great opportunity to grab some road schooling on just how they were discovered, what they may have faced at the time and how our current society differed from Neandatholic everyday life…


Every Ed-Venture should have Something special

We’ve been really fortunate to see some of Europe’s best learning opportunities including the WW1 battlefields, Berlin Wall, Italy’s buried city of Pompei and York’s many historical attractions. But each has had a brilliant guide to help make the visit even more memorable… so we were really lucky to meet up with our friend Eicke to discover both the Neanderthal Museum and Dusseldorf.

Every guide is worth their weight in gold, but Eicke’s local knowledge and enthusiasm soon had the girls desperately wanting to know more about this race of humans who disappeared some 50,000 years ago… Thankfully the museum also does a brilliant job of re-telling the story of humankind. From its beginnings on the African plains to the present day. Covering the history of man over 4,000,000 years with its clever, innovative multimedia exhibits (alongside multilingual audio guides). But perhaps as impressive is the architecture of the building that spirals upwards allowing a clear path to be taken through the museum.


Not only does it cover history, it also cleverly weaves in religion, social and cultural differences between the Neanderthals and the modern day.. (even dressing a Neanderthal in a suit to prove a point…)

Put simply, it’s just a great way to learn about the crucial ‘building block’ in both mankind and European history….

neanderthal museum

so where did we park the bus for the night?

There are plenty of options close to Dusseldorf. We settled for Camping Unterbacher See, but those who love a good city aire/stellplatz should head for the parking overnight option beside Dussledorf’s picturesque pedestrianised area overlooking the Rhine (GPS Latitude 51° 14′ 3″ N, Longitude 6° 46′ 16″ E). Others might opt for the other side of the river, and the Rheincamping Meerbusch site…. the choice is yours. Enjoy!

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About The Author


Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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