- Education and Science»
- History & Archaeology
Ordinary People Through the Ages - Prehistoric Era
Early man buried their dead. Scientists make the assumption that this was done in relation to a religious stand point and that perhaps they thought they could protect or preserve the body of their loves ones by burying them under the ground. This way their dearly departed family members could pass on to the afterlife in one piece. It may be a leap of faith to believe this, but considering that early man thought the same way we do it might not be too hard to come to the conclusion that they had similar beliefs to ourselves.
We all know that early man was primarily a hunter, but the introduction of agriculture around 10,000 years ago changed us forever. It was realised that when a seed was dropped on the ground it grew into something more, something we could eat. Suddenly we didn't have to move home when a particular breed of animal cottoned on to the fact that if they kept grazing nearby they would end up as an evening meal. We still hunted for food, but it didn't take up as much of our time. This spare time was put to good use and gave the typical man or woman the chance to think about other things.
Picture a man in his mid twenties. He has a 5 year old son who adores and looks up to him. He has just come back from a hunt and tells his young son all about it. His son hangs on every word never being distracted as his imagination runs wild at the thought of scary animals with big teeth. His father won't be going hunting for a while now as they have enough meat to last them for the next few weeks. So he will farm and his son will help him farm.
At night when his soon sleeps the father finally gets the time to think about things that he has never thought about before. Summer time has left them and autumn is on the way. The winter will soon follow and the protective father begins to think about new ways to keep his son safe, especially at night when they are sleeping. So after each day of sowing crops he takes a seat and thinks long and hard with his free time. He realises that he can add mud to the sticks that make up his little hut and when it dries it will be solid. This will keep himself and his son warmer and drier at night and might even keep some rodents out. The main difference here is that he is now thinking in different ways to his hunter-gatherer ancestors.
With all this spare time it wasn't just necessity that got a keen eye on it. We where now in a position to have a little down time and enjoy ourselves. One of the ways that we did this was with music. Although the earliest known instruments dated back to around 30,000 years ago it is conceivable that man was using whatever was to hand to bang out an archaic rhythm for ritualistic purposes or for celebratory purposes.
Again, we can only infer what kind of clothes our ancestors wore, but we know that the main material must have been animal skin. What we do have today is the remains of items of jewelery dating back to around 100,000 years ago in the form of seashells. There is some controversy as to the actual use of these seashells, but one of the theories is that they where used as beads or pendants for necklaces.
There is evidence that early man traded food and goods from near and far. Mixed tools from many miles apart have been unearthed which can only point to a trading of such items between different settlements. As we moved from hunter-gatherers to agricultural techniques we had more time to cultivate specific foods. Any excess of these foods could then be traded for other foods or items from nearby settlements.