Le Moustier Neanderthals (Charles R. Knight, 1920)

A caveman is a stock character representative of primitive man in the Paleolithic. The popularisation of the type dates to the early 20th century, when Neanderthal Man was influentially described as "simian" or ape-like by Marcellin Boule and Arthur Keith.

While knowledge of human evolution in the Pleistocene has become much more detailed, the stock character has persisted, even though it anachronistically conflates characteristics of archaic humans and early modern humans.

The term "caveman" has its taxonomical equivalent in the now-obsolete Homo troglodytes ("cave-dwelling man", Linnaeus, 1758).


Caveman hunting a brown bear. Book illustration by Irma Deremeaux

Cavemen are typically portrayed as wearing shaggy animal hides, and capable of cave painting like behaviorally modern humans of the last glacial period. Anachronistically, they are simultaneously shown armed with rocks or cattle bone clubs, unintelligent, and aggressive. Popular culture also frequently represents cavemen as living with or alongside dinosaurs, even though non-avian dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 66 million years before the emergence of the Homo sapiens species.

The image of them living in caves arises from the fact that caves are where the preponderance of artifacts have been found from European Stone Age cultures, although this most likely reflects the degree of preservation that caves provide over the millennia rather than an indication of their typical form of shelter. Until the last glacial period, the great majority of hominins did not live in caves, being nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes living in a variety of temporary structures, such as tents[1] and wooden huts (e.g. at Ohalo). Their societies were similar to those of many modern day indigenous peoples. A few genuine cave dwellings did exist, however, such as at Mount Carmel in Israel.[citation needed]

Stereotypical cavemen have traditionally been depicted wearing smock-like garments made of animal skin and held up by a shoulder strap on one side, and carrying large clubs approximately conical in shape. They often have grunt-like names, such as Ugg and Zog.[citation needed]

Other Languages
العربية: إنسان الكهف
Deutsch: Höhlenmensch
한국어: 혈거인
Bahasa Indonesia: Manusia gua
italiano: Cavernicolo
မြန်မာဘာသာ: ဂူနေရှေးလူ
Nederlands: Holbewoner
日本語: 原始人
português: Homem das cavernas
српски / srpski: Pećinsko slikarstvo