When I read my first article, as a kid, about early man, I was hooked on that history. Whenever a new documentary, or docu-series, or even a conference on new discoveries comes out, I watch it.
What we know has changed dramatically over the years. Cavemen, in the early days, were portrayed as crude, violent, aggressive things. Barely human, and when it was discovered we emerged from some of those species, that view got shoved over onto Neanderthals and that was our view of them for several decades. Human? Maybe, maybe not, after all, they died out, they weren’t present, and so they may even have been a part animal part human missing link. It fit, at least the way the story was portrayed.
As decades went by, some of those kids grew up and began looking into prehistory for themselves, inspired by those early discoveries. New developments came about, new methods of testing, DNA, RNA, the ability to obtain results from previously unusable fossils and fragments. Then more species, Denisovans, more Neanderthal discoveries, fossils that had been recovered and never tested, or tested incompletely, and suddenly Neanderthals weren’t bad guys at all. The view of them changed; after all, it was now proven they were a part of us, they live on in our DNA, so if they are part of us, how can we be bad?
Then, more discoveries, other examples of all sorts of early man were reexamined again, forensically, and we found that none of us were all that great at all. Violence existed. Life was tough. Mothers were young, babies had hard lives and few survived. Fractures in a young girls forearm and spine showed she conceived far to early, very young, and that she was most likely forced: And she was not the only skeleton that showed that sort of evidence. Human fossils with cut marks on their bones, showing that cannibalism probably did occur. All in all, it showed a much harder, and probably much more realistic view of the way the world really was.
I have been in situations where I have seen the worst sides of men and woman when situations become adverse. I have seen and observed animals for years and watched the same things in relation to supremacy, leadership, stature. We see how our supposed enlightened society ostracizes those they consider weak. Children, men, women commit suicide rather than live in that sort of world, or in hope of escaping the taunting, bullying. When those things happen we are shocked, but we shouldn’t be; we were living in caves, fighting a real war to survive against nature, other human species just a few thousand years ago, and so we are only slightly more benevolent to the lesser, disabled, mentally challenged in the present day. All of us? Of course not, and our ancestors could not have been completely violent either, or we would have killed ourselves off completely.
Still, the honest view, is a life filled with violence, and there is so much more to investigate, understand, weigh, argue. As few as 200 years ago women conceived much younger that they do know, and often died in childbirth because their bodies were undeveloped. As a society, we passed laws to stop that abuse. Is it perfect? No, but I truly believe that you can see it is getting better almost daily.
We went from, most probably, simply a rock picked up from the ground and used as a weapon, to clubs, to working stone to create cutting weapons, to working steel to make weapons, to knives, to guns and what ever else there is out there to kill with. So we have a history of violence that has grown as we have evolved, but that never left us, and most likely never will because of the violence we came from.
Does that mean we are hopeless? Of course not. Change is very hard, but we do it everyday anyway, and we should not stop striving to be a better species. I am simply taking an honest look at what we were, according to the best evidence I have seen
I thought the best books on the series, that mixed fiction with reality; were Jean M Auels Earth’s Children series. I recommend them if you have not read them. You will get a good story and you will educate yourself about our history as human beings, because she studied, visited sites, talked to paleontologists, archeologists, toured the areas and caves she writes about and presents a fair and balanced view of our ancestors, using the best information she had at hand. You can’t do better than those books.
As for me, I want to write a series based on early man. It has been kicking me in the brain for many years, and so I began it the other day. I am using what I know what I have read, listened to, interpreted from the evidence there is. I would love some feedback… Dell
Dawn of Life: Approximately 80,000 years ago…
Gnah squatted stoically near the cave opening. A slight sag in the skin covering allowing him a view of the valley below.
The wind gusted and blew the heavy skin inward occasionally, snow with it, but the snow melted just inside the opening, some contributing to the ice that bordered the opening under the door, the balance running away in small rivulets into the cave proper.
The hunt had gone badly, more than badly, they had come away empty handed and Crerk lay dead at the back of the cave. The Bone Clan was starving, and the division that had been growing between some of the hunters and himself had become a split. Three hunters on his side, two on the other.
Indas, his second woman approached and waited patiently. There was now reason she could not speak, but the fact that she did not told him she had words only for him. He could hear them: Women of The Bone clan, while not on the level of the men, were born with status that was upheld and built upon with childbearing and skills that benefited the man to whom they had been given by their mothers. Additional skills that benefited the entire clan added status, but that status was spread out over the family unit. In this way a man did not have to acknowledge a woman who consistently contributed to the well being or growth of the clan.
“Woman,” he said without looking at her.
“Vekni and Suvro have gone away… To Mid Valley.”
He nodded. He had
told her to tell his other wives to go. To take the babes and the Wolf People
Protectors and go away until they heard from him. Now Indas would leave as
well. A pretense of getting water from the river below the cave. He looked to
her and saw the fear written on her young face. Although his second, it was her
he depended on for stability among his own woman and the other women of the
She lifted the wooden gourds to her shoulders, using a strap that spanned her broad and heavily muscled back and pushed aside the heavy skin, stepping out into the snow.
Gnah sighed deeply in his soul, and signaled his first and second hunters to him with his eyes: They came quickly, watched by the two at the back of the cave.
They had carried Crerk back from the hunt. First they had removed his organs and buried them. It was several days travel back to the cave, and he would begin to turn bad quickly with the weather shifting from freeze to thaw as it was. It was early in the winter, the cold had not yet settled over all the land and frozen the waters completely as it would sometime soon.
It was not a sign of disrespect to eviscerate the body. It was done often in the Bone Clan. But the two, his third and fifth hunters, Crerk had been the fourth, had decided that Crerk should be sacrificed for the good of the clan.
A hunter could not return to the Earth Mother without a proper burial. What they suggested, Crerk giving his body so the others could live, and because he had failed to kill the buffalo that had killed him, would mean no burial. No honor in the next live or other lives to come. Yes it would mean sustenance for the clan, but complete death to Crerk. …