HUMAN ANCESTORS - NEANDERTHALS & CRO-MAGNONS - Roots of humanity
Let us travel back in time few hundred thousand years ago to meet our ancestors, Neanderthals, who were the most recent archaic humans who inhabited Eurasia from around 350.000 years ago and gradually had disappeared by 25.000 years ago. Similar human population lived at the same time in Africa and eastern Asia, but the best research was done on Neanderthals because their bones and artifacts stayed well preserved due to the many limestone caves all around Europe and Asia. 40.000 years ago, climate started to change, Cro-Magnons, more modern humans came in Europe (from Africa), started to interbred with Neanderthals, so after more then 10.000 years original Neanderthals gradually disappear.
Neanderthals were one of the most successful humans - they survived over of quarter of million years by adapting to the extremely cold climate of the Ice age with their short muscled bodies and strong skeletons.
When were first time bones of Neanderthals found (in 19th century,in cave in Germany (Neander Valley)) scientists believed that our ancestors were subhuman and that they were separate species from us. Due to the lack of knowledge, it was believed that they were completely wild, aggressive, cannibals, almost without human characteristics. In 1960 this theory was finally changed, and neanderthals are recognized as Homo sapience neardelthalensis and accepted in family of human beings. Now is known, that we can be very proud of our ancestors:
their societies were very well organized, altough they lived in relatively small groups, groups were also communicating among themselves,
- they cared about ill, disabled and old people.
- Their speech was not the same as in modern humans, but their level of communications was high,(they could not pronounce wovels so easily)
- they were spiritual people, believing in life-after-life and performing sacred rituals,
- they were burying their deaths,
- they were very musical, singing and using simple instruments
- they created art.
Now is known that Neandertals also created art: altough their strong hands and fingers was not able to create such sophisticated artwork as Cro-magnons could. Recently it was found many artifacts which show that our ancestors had imagination and developed articians abilities. The most recent archeologic findings amd recent reconstrucions of their faces definitely are changing all our prejudices about "cavemen".
It is known that life was short at that time,due to the difficult life conditions, the longest was cca 50 years. Neanderthals used stone-tools and fires and lived mostly in caves. Caves were also their sanctuaries. They performed rituals for success in hunting, fertility, healing, for newborns and funerals.
Their physical look was very far from ape-like creatures like we used to imagine them. Actually, they did not differ much from modern people, as you can see from the pictures where is shown how did they really look like;
Art of Neanderthals: sculptures, tools, instruments
Art of Neanderthals
This face-mask above was made of flint and bone from late ice-age deposits at La Roche-Cotard in France and is 35.000 years old.
Art of Neanderthals was mainly connected with their spirituality and the most artistic artifacts were found at the sanctuarities of the Neanderthal people.
There are many figures of Goddess, zoomorphic figures, but also the portraits.
They also made instrumens as bone flutes. The flute bellow play Mi, Fa, So, Lah (as it is broken), but was able to play full scale of tones!!!
Goddess of Neanderthal people
All these amazing sculptures were created by the imagination and hands of humans from Middle and Earlhy Palheolit. They were special and very gifted people. It is assumed that there was no more then 15000 Neanderthals, but the real proof for that does not exist.
The main reason why they did not developed more, was cold climate were was main priority - to survive.
Arrival of Homo Sapiens - Cro-Magnons
Cro-Magnon people started to occupy Europe 40.000 years ago when climate started to change. They were coming form sub-Saharan North Africa, to the southern Greece, from where they started to spread to Europe and Asia. They were mating with Neanderthals (hm, knowing the human race it would be very strange if they did not), so 2 human races started to mix together. The result was gradually change in the physical characteristics of human race. Last original Neanderthals disappeared 25.000 years ago.
With arrival of newcomers, and warmer climate face of Europe started to change: there were many new innovations made on all fields of human life, style of life change, people started to harvest their own fields, invented wheel, tools become much more sophisticated, which was preparation for modern style of life.
Bellow are photos of beautiful paintings in Lascaux cave in France, these paintings were done by Cro-magnons.
Their extraordinary paintings of animals and scenes of hunting, were part of ritual before they hunted, ritual was performed to create successful result.
Physical look of Cro-Magnons
Reconstruction of their faces discovered their physical appearance:
The biggest human obstacles are difficult acceptance of everything what differs from our present conditions,our prejudices and big ego, fear of unknown. While investigating life of Neanderthals, on the beginning, scientists were imagining the worst possible characteristics of our ancestors (cannibalism, lack of spirituality, violence, lack of intelligence, inability to speak) Neanderthals were for more then century completely abandoned from family of humans by scientists, it was said they were species separate from humans. There were not enough fossils found at that time, it was also very difficult to imagine completely different style of life in completely different climate of Ice age. Although these prejudices and wrong assumption started to disappear with many new fossils which were found, It was very difficult to accept Neanderthals as our true ancestors. Even now through the research of Mitochondrial DNA, scientists are more eager to find differences then similarities. (differences are normal: it passed by hundred thousand years.)
The problem with full acceptance of our Neanderthal roots also must occur when we see our evolution as linear: from ape-like creatures few millions of years ago to the modern man. But what if humanity is much older than we think it is? What if development of human society and human consciousness is not as linear as we try to percieve it?
Through the written human history we see that civilisations raise and fall, after some time new ones raise again, but not much more then the one was before. Ups and downs are happening all the time, so we still know just little part of human history.
Linear concept of time is modern one. It very differs from Indian concept of history of humanity (Vedic cycles) and cosmic concept of old Greek thinkers who were also mentioning cyclic raise and fall of civilisations many times in the history, much longer then we can imagine .In the teachings of Plato, Pythagoras, and Empedocles on the transmigration of the soul, time was conncected with the cyclical patterns as well as development and falls of human society.
"For example, we find in Hesiod's Works and Days a series of ages (gold, silver, bronze, heroic, and iron) similar to the Indian yugas (ages). In both systems the quality of human life becomes progressively worse with each passing age. In On Nature, Empedocles speaks of cosmic time cycles. In Plato's dialogues, there are descriptions of revolving time and recurring catastrophes destroying or nearly destroying human civilization. Aristotle said often in his works that the arts and sciences had been discovered many times in the past. In the teachings of Plato, Pythagoras, and Empedocles on the transmigration of the soul, the cyclical pattern extends to individual psycho-physical existence." http://www.salagram.net/cycleOages.html
At least we can wonder... Maybe we can find some new answeres about human history only by using our non-linear imagination and curiosity, without that characteristics, we would not be real humans.
Interesting articles about new discoveries about Neandherthals
- Neanderthals and humans interbred twice, find scientists | Mail Online
It won't come as a surprise to anyone wandering around Britain's city centres late on a Friday night. But scientists have discovered that most people have a little bit of Neanderthal man in them.
- Last of the Neanderthals National Geographic Magazine
Eurasia was theirs for 200,000 years. Then the newcomers arrived. Read the story from the September 2008 issue of National Geographic.
- Britannica Online Encyclopedia
I added two videos, bellow the comments, which tried to make alive alleged style of life of Neanderthals:
one is last part of the BBC documentary "Walking with the cavemen", which uses linear concept of time and assumes that apes were the oldest human ancestors. I just have to wonder if this theory CAN be correct: from apes to fully developed humans, in just a little bit more then 3million years? hmmm...too short time for such a change including complete DNA change : movie do not give answer how we could bridge the huge DNA difference between us and apes: we have 23 pairs of chromosoms and apes 24 pairs what means that we are completely different species. Such extreme DNA mutations just do not occur at least not so drastically and quickly.
Besides that, this documentary gives some good informations about climate change connected with migration of Earth population, and is beginning of presenting Neanderthals on more human and positive way, altough still far from what new findings prooved.
Second video is "Neanderthal" which presents Neanderthals on the "old way", the problem is that kids around the world are still watching it in the scools. In the movie, there is so little human feelings shown: Neanderthals were almost animals, and Cro-magnons ruthless invadors. Author was not able to embrace the concept that the both races had fully human characteristics.
I hope, that new findings about style of life of our ancestors will change old human attitudes more quickly, and that we will be soon able to watch something what is more connected with real life of prehistoric people. I hope that my Hub will inspire you, as writing it inspired me to change the view towards our prehistoric roots. Humans at that time were much more "humans", then we were thaught in the scools, we just needed to see their true faces: while looking at them, everything becomes very clear. They were...just like us.
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