Today we live in a digital age with instant communication across the world. Yet some essentials of the way we live date back to very early times. Even 10,000 years ago people must have got up in the morning, had a wash, eaten a meal, and then done some kind of work, before eating and sleeping once again. By that time they made simple houses, used fire for cooking, wore clothes and shoes, created art and played music, and buried or cremated their dead with reverence and care. Things were not the same all over the world, but even without the superior communication of today, something that developed in one area soon spread to other regions. Along with ways of living, humans too were evolving, with modern humans, Homo sapiens, coming into existence around 250,000 -100,000 years ago. These humans gradually occupied the whole world. They learnt to speak even before this evolution, possibly even one million years ago, as seen in an earlier article. Here we will look at some of the other early activities. As for food, animals were killed and eaten, but the diet included a number of plants. From around 25,000 BCE, people not only ate wild plants, but began to water them, remove weeds, and harvest them. Animals began to be domesticated from before 10,000 BCE. Fire may have been first used for cooking around 1.5 million years ago. Burnt animal bones of this time have been found at Swartkrans, Africa. From 44,000 BCE there is evidence of a cooked meal of meat being eaten at Abric Romani in Spain. Clothing too was worn from an early date. At first the early people were covered with fur like animals, then most of it dropped off. In cold areas they must have worn some kind of clothes, perhaps at first made from animal skins.  Scientists have found evidence that people wore clothes from at least around 1,70,000 years ago. Amazingly, scientists discovered this by studying the DNA of lice! Clothing lice diverged from head lice around that date, and clothing lice could only exist when people wore clothes. And there is evidence of shoes being worn 70,000 years ago. Though many lived in caves and natural shelters, complex houses were made in eastern Europe and Russia from mammoth bones, as early as 25,000 BCE. There were stone floors, mammoth bones for tent like walls, and a covering of skin. Some houses were quite large. At Timonoska on the river Desna, there were houses with log roofs, and lamps made from soft stone. As for art, there is possible evidence of an early carving of a woman on a stone pebble, from the site of Berekhat Ram in Israel. It is about 250,000 years old. The pebble itself is naturally shaped like a woman and some incised lines have been added. It may have been the earliest sculpture. There are other possible instances of early art. The Deipkloof rock shelter in South Africa has ostrich shells carved with designs dating to 60,000 years ago. Then at Blombos Cave located near Cape Town in South Africa, occupied by people between 1,40,000 and 70,000 years ago, there is evidence of two types of paint– red and yellow ochre– being made and used. From 50,000 BCE onwards, beautiful cave paintings were made at many different places in Europe, Asia and Australia. The Chauvet Cave in France, near the Ardeche river has hundreds of paintings of animals dating back to 30,000 BCE. Horses, deer, mammoths, owls and many more animals are depicted. In the clay forming the floor of the cave, a footprint of a child is preserved over all these years. On the walls there are hand prints. In India, some of the cave paintings at the site of Bhimbetka, belong to an early date. Music too, had an early origin. Some scholars feel flint pieces of the Stone Age could have been used to create various sounds. Bone flutes have been found in Germany dating to 40,000 years ago, and in Slovenia, perhaps even earlier. People began to bury the dead, and to decorate the graves in some way. For instance, at Teshik Tash in present Uzbekistan, a nine or ten year old boy was buried, and horns of wild goats were placed around the grave, perhaps for his protection in the next world. The grave is dated between 50,000-25,000 years ago. Thus, though times have changed, many of the basic aspects of life are still the same. (A PhD in ancient Indian History, the writer lives in Dehradun and has authored ten books.) read more post… Thursday, 31 May 2018 | Roshen Dalal |Dehradun–

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