Monday, November 22, 2010

Hunters and Gatherers

As you read the selection from A Message of Ancient Days, you learned about the development of early humans from the time of Homo erectus until the group of people known as Cro-Magnons lived and made cave art. One of the first things you may notice is that the reading talks about Homo heidelbergensis.

The important point to know is that Homo heidelbergensis is just a type of Homo erectus that lived in Europe about 500,000 years ago in what is today Germany, France, and Spain. This type of human ancestor exhibited the first aspects of culture in the human species: living together, making and using tools, making and controlling fire, adapting to colder climates, and hunting in coordinated groups.

Much more after the jump:
A few interesting points of information came out of the reading.

1. First, human culture became more complex from the time of Homo heidelbergensis to the time of Cro Magnons:
  •  Homo heidelbergensis lived in small groups of 20-30 people who traveled over a wide area hunting animals and gathering plants for food. These people had some loose social organization and probably had some type of language to help them coordinate a hunt.
  • Later, Neanderthals developed a more complex culture than Homo heidelbergensis with a sense of community becoming more important to them. Neanderthals lived in larger groups of 20-50 people and stayed in one place longer. The Neanderthals buried their dead, giving us the earliest examples of funeral ceremonies, and a belief in the afterlife.
  • Finally, Cro-Magnons have the most advanced culture of the early humans. Cro-Magnons were a type of Homo sapiens that lived in caves in western Europe around 30,000 years ago. The Cro-Magnons lived a life similar to modern hunter-gatherers. They made the most complex tools to that point: fishing nets, spear throwers, and bows and arrows. Cro-Magnons also left very advanced artwork in sculptured objects and cave art. 

2. Over time, the image of the Neanderthal has changed a great deal. People used to imagine Neanderthals as stupid, brutish, primitive, and with bad posture. New findings have demonstrated that this image is false. Neanderthals were actually pretty advanced in terms of the early humans. They had a belief in life after death, they cared for the sick and elderly members of their tribe, and they adapted well to the cold environment of Europe in the winter. So the expression, "So easy a caveman can do it!" is actually pretty insulting.

3. Homo erectus first developed the ability to make and control fire. This was really important for several reasons:
  • Fire kept people warm (and alive!) during the cold climate of the Ice Ages in Europe and Asia.
  • Fire was used to scare off predators that might try and eat the early humans
  • Fire was used to cook food--this kills bacteria and makes meat easier to digest

4. Cro-Magnons were the most advanced of the early humans. They were of the species Homo sapiens, just like modern humans. The best evidence of the Cro-Magnons' culture is found in their amazing artwork. Cro-Magnons painted very lifelike designs on the walls and ceilings of thier cave homes, often showing animals and nature scenes. The Cro-Magnons also carved animal bones and wood into detailed depictions of animals. Aside from being a little dirtier and shaggier, a Cro-Magnon would look a lot like a human today.

Check out the location of this amazing prehistoric artwork in Lascaux, France:


  1. You should put a vid of early humans trying to communicate because we talk about it a lot in class


  2. i agree with michelle

  3. hey this is soooooooooooooo coooooooool

  4. What about questions 4 and 5??

  5. I love the Geico commercials!

  6. Good site thx

  7. I think saying that "even cave men can do it" is insulting too. Scientist and archeologist thought that just because they dont have the same communication and other human needs like us that they didn't have before, they said they were stupid.

  8. Your blog is really helpful because I always get a clearer sense of what we have to do for that assignment!So thank you!


  9. Question 4 is posted above.

    Question 5: It's actually a "think about it and give your opinion" question. Think about what comes to mind when you think about "cave men." Now compare that image to what they really were like--complex tools, art, living as a community.

  10. Thanks for the info Mr.G, it really helped

  11. boy, that italian family over there sure is quietNovember 27, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    Now that the packets have been collected. How many more days until a test?

  12. Whenever I assign a test, I'll always give you at least a week to study.

  13. I learned that when a body is preserved in ice, it's outer layer of skin turns brown and shiny.


  14. Your blog is really helpful when it comes to iceman I cant wait to learn more!!

  15. Kara said......
    I think that he was on a hunting trip because he had an axe and a bunch of arrows. Thanks Mr. G this is a great site.....
    Kara P.

  16. Nora said.....
    I think the icemen was traveling alone because other evidence might have been found for others. Thanks Mr. G this is a great blog!

  17. Ali said...
    that when it is cold, skin will shrivel up and make it look like someone was smiling when they died

    ~Ali R.

  18. The blade of Ice Man's ax was coppper and had been melted and poured into mold.

    written by: Nia Johnson :)

  19. i think that the iceman was with someone but the other person didnt die

  20. ALYSSA said...
    I think that it is interesting that Iceman has 57 tatoos

  21. I learned that the iceman was really found on the Itallian side of the Alps.


  22. Ice man was probably hunting because of the weapons he had with him (bow and arrows, axe, knife)

  23. I like the caveman commercal. [sorry I didn't know how to spell that]

  24. I think iceman was either
    A) hunting
    B) chopping wood
    or C) running away
    Because he had tools for hunting and wood cutting but the fact that he had a wound in the back makes it seem like he was running away

  25. how old is the skull at the top of the page?


  26. Ice man died when he was living his daily life. We know this because when he was found he had bow and arrows, a knife, an axe, and his arm was across his face as if he was trying to protect his face from the cold.


  27. I learned that Ice Man must have been hunting or about to fight another person when he died, I know this because with him he had bow and arrow, knife, axe, etc.

  28. I know that Ice Man died while going about his daily routines, he was not found buried with a grave.

    P.S. This blog is great Mr.G I like watching vids and it helps for homework!


  29. This site is really cool!!!
    I think that all the info on the iceman is good info and is helpful with what we are learning.
    I also learned the iceman was preserved in layers + layers of ice


  30. Why was the iceman called otris?

    - Jacob C C
    P.S cluster 2 Rocks!!!!!!