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Café Neandertal

Excavating Our Past In One of Europe's Most Ancient Places

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February 27, 2018 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.25, 304 Pages | ISBN 9781619026100
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A brilliant and captivating journey into the lands, research, and mysteries of the Neandertals―and what these exciting discoveries reveal about our own humanity

Centered in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, one of Europe’s most concentrated regions for Neandertal and early modern human occupations, writer Beebe Bahrami follows and participates in the work of archaeologists who are doing some of the most comprehensive and global work to date on the research, exploration, and recovery of our ancient ancestors. In Café Neandertal, Bahrami follows this compelling riddle along a path populated with colorful local personalities and opinionated, polemical, and brilliant archaeologists working in remote and fascinating places across Eurasia, all the while maintaining a firm foothold in the Dordogne, a region celebrated by the local tourist office as a vacation destination for 400,000 years. From this prehistoric perch Bahrami gets to know first-hand the Neandertals and the people who love them —those who have devoted their lives to them. She is thrown into a world debating not only what happened to these close cousins but also what legacy they have left for those who followed.

Café Neandertal is also a detective story, investigating one of the biggest mysteries of prehistory and archaeology: Who were the Neandertals? Why did they disappear around 35,000 years ago? And more mysteriously, what light do they shed on us moderns?

Bahrami takes readers into the thick of an excavation, neck-deep in Neanderthal dirt, and to the front row of the heated debates about our long-lost cousins. Café Neandertal pulls us deeply into the complex mystery of the Neandertals, shedding a surprising light on what it means to be human.

BEEBE BAHRAMI is a professional writer known for award-winning travel, memoir, archaeology, outdoors and adventure, food and wine, spiritual, and cross-cultural writing. Author of The Spiritual Traveler Spain (Paulist Press, 2009) and Historic Walking Guides Madrid (DestinWorld Publishing, 2009), her work also appears in Archaeology, Wine Enthusiast, Bark, The Pennsylvania Gazette, National Geographic books, Michelin Green Guides, Expedition, and Perceptive Travel, among others. She wrote two travel apps, The Esoteric Camino France & Spain and Madrid Walks, and maintains two blogs, Café Oc, on life in the Dordogne, and The Pilgrim’s Way Café, dedicated to exploring the world on foot. You can read more about her and her writing at



“Award-winning writer Bahrami is a delightful guide in this thoroughly enjoyable look into the research and recovery of a group of Neandertal remains in the French Dordogne region. With a background in archaeology, she is certainly qualified, but her wide interests in travel, memoir, food, wine, and more make this exceedingly engaging title more like a French version of Under the Tuscan Sun (1996) with an origins-of-humanity spin than the expected scholarly tome… Highly recommended for archaeology and prehistory buffs and armchair travelers.”—Starred Booklist

“With a pilgrim’s reverence and a scientist’s exactitude, Bahrami captures the textures, smells, and sounds of the excavation sites and adjacent towns… At the heart of this story is Bahrami’s trek through densely overgrown pre-historic territory in search of a visceral connection to and deeper understanding of all humankind.”—Publishers Weekly

“Written with all the flair and enthusiasm of an experienced writer eager to share her love of her subject.”—Kirkus

“Ms. Bahrami has written a very readable book, blending personal travel experience and history in a relatively off-the-radar swath of France. She seamlessly marries archeology and Gallic culture that brings the region’s people and history to life.”—David Farley, author of An Irreverent Curiosity  

“We need to understand who we were in order to know where we are headed. In the caves and forests of France’s Dordogne region, Beebe Bahrami guides us on a haunting encounter with what may be our earlier selves, a creature whose passions and powers and motives we have only begun to fathom. A fascinating read for anyone who claims to be human.”—Peter Stark, author of Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire; A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival

“… [A] beautifully crafted book… Bahrami is a wonderful writer who brings many of the attributes of the novel to a clear and compelling narrative that encapsulates a snapshot of the state of our current knowledge about Neanderthals. Peopled with a vast cast of fascinating characters, from village locals to queru-lous scientists, it brings to life the excitement of unearthing the past and describes the “new, more enlightened era in studies of human evolution” that is dawning.” —Cosmos Magazine

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