Unknown: Cave of Bones review: Fascination look into groundbreaking discovery

Netflix’s latest documentary, Unknown: Cave of Bones takes the viewers inside the Rising Star Cave System in South Africa, where a groundbreaking discovery in the field of paleoanthropology was made in 2013.


Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger introduces the premise, which is the 2013 discovery of a new species under the homo genus dating back to 300,000 years old.

In 2013, skeletal remains of this hominin species were discovered inside the Rising Star Cave System in the Cradle of Humanity, South Africa.

The reason why this discovery is claimed to be so groundbreaking, as the project leader Berger explains, is that the fossils entail evidence of burial way long before humans thought it started as a ritualistic practice.

Later in the documentary, the scientists also show the engravings found inside the caves as well as a sharp tool buried with a child. Named Homo Naledi, the scientists and Lee Berger claim that the species just might change the way humans look at their history.


Lee Berger’s final descent into the cave comes later on in the documentary, and just like it’s a momentous event in Berger’s life, the scene inspires the most amount of suspense, intrigue, and even anxiety in the documentary.

Unknown: Cave of Bones definitely presents a plethora of fascinating discoveries, and the hypotheses regarding the social and philosophical way of life the Homo Naledi manage to be compelling and thought-provoking.


The entirety of the documentary seems to be a narrative following and supporting the hypotheses, claims, and conclusions made by Lee Berger and his associates, where more content on the contrary or one that challenges these claims could have easily been made.

This kind of one-sided narrative also runs the risk of making the whole affair a lot more manipulative, and considering the emotions that the presentation can manage to evoke in one, it’s an unwise creative choice to leave out other sides of the discourse surrounding these discoveries.

The direction and storytelling are rather bland, which has come to be the defining trait of Netflix documentaries, where everything from the content right down to the titles of said releases comes across as the laziest efforts at ranking higher on the search results when you type in the keywords.


Unknown: Cave of Bones is like many other Netflix projects preceding it and likely the ones following it, in that, it’s a rather uninspired presentation of topics that can otherwise be contemplated deeply and delved into with a far better discipline and wiser approach.

Unknown: Cave of Bones
Unknown: Cave of Bones review: Fascination look into groundbreaking discovery 1

Director: Mark Mannucci

Date Created: 2023-07-17 12:30

Editor's Rating:

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