1: "Hunt or Be Hunted"
49 min., DVD 94, 2003
"Begin in prehistoric Africa – 1.7 million years ago – where
primitive humans like Homo ergaster foraged for food among the underbrush,
always on the run from the original king of the jungle – the
Sabretooth cat. Over time, watch as ergaster develops simple tools,
begins to communicate and even learns to repel his enemies with fire."
"Fast-forward a million years and witness Homo erectus' improved
ability with fire. Watch as these crafty humans use huge, flaming
branches to drive a herd of Giant Irish Elk right off a cliff. It
seems like a perfectly executed hunt . . . until the neglected fire
burns out of control, ruining the day's spoils."
"In fact, it's not until the rise of the Neanderthals that
fire is mastered. But, by then, another race has appeared on the
scene – the Cro-Magnons! As environmental conditions change, the Cro-Magnons adapt and survive, while the Neanderthals' numbers noticeably dwindle." -- Discovery
2: "Mastering the Beasts"
49 min., DVD 101, 2003
"By the Pleistocene era, the Cro-Magnons had developed
the power of speech, reasoning skills and even a belief in the
afterlife. Yet, a dramatic recreation of a ritual battle, in
which an apprentice shaman struggles to prove himself against
a powerful prehistoric bull, shows how much of their daily lives
were still rooted in violence."
"As the Cro-Magnons' numbers grew, they proceeded to America – by
way of a treacherous land bridge leading to Alaska. Join three,
desperate Cro-Magnon women as they trek across the tundra in
search of food and shelter and marvel at how they use their burgeoning
ingenuity to survive harsh elements, extreme hunger and the company
of Woolly Mammoths."
"Learn how the sophisticated weaponry of North America's Paleo-Indians allowed them to flourish among the waning mega-fauna
Giant Ground Sloth. Experience the thrill of the hunt when two
small bands of Paleo-Indians come together for a ritual buffalo
kill, driving hundreds of buffalo off a cliff in a massive slaughter – much
like Homo erectus before them." --
Terms / Concepts / Features
- Homo ergaster
- 1.9 mya early African "Homo erectus"
- some consider Homo erectus later populations, mainly
- e.g., "Turkana Boy"
- KNM WT 15000
- a nearly complete skeleton
- 1.6 mya
- scavaging was likely an important activity that
- "Early Modern Man" aka Cro-Magnon aka "Anatomical
- woolly mammoth, giant cave bear, lions, wolves, wolverines,
Asian wild dogs, and other carnivores like big cats (, sabre
tooth cats, leopards
. . .) were important animals
in Neandertal life
- ice age
- the time since the end of the last major glacial epoch, or "ice
age" = the holocene
- used "thrusting tools"
- they had large, heavy spears
- not thrown
- "they must lunge and jab"
- "they had no real long-range weapons"
- the Neandertal had to kill animals in close quarters, which
- most like modern-day rodeo riders
- Mousterian -- the tradition / period of Neandertals
- Acheulian hand axes important from Homo
erectus times onward
- 1.6 mya
- in Europe and Africa
- "Little Ice Age" : 1600s, 1700s, 1800s
- The most recent Neandertal = ca. 26,000 ybp ??
- About 35,000 ypb the Neandertals disappeared so
suddenly; this is the "Neandertal Problem"
- About 40,000 ybp "a new human type [Cro-magnon]
began to spread across Europe"
- 30,000 - 35,000 ybp modern humans went through a "rapid
- ca. 130,000 ybp the earth was cooling rapidly
- It is thought that "modern man" began
to leave the African continent between 150,000 and 200,000 ybp
- 250,000 mya+ Neandertals were found from the British
Isles to the Middle East, from the Atlantic to the Caucasus
- they also spread as far as modern-day Israel
- ca. 250,000 there is an individual in a cave in Israel which
is not Neandertal
- Note the Neandertals' physical (biological) and
cultural (learned) adjustment to cold climates
- physical adaptations
- Allen's Rule
- Bergman's Rule
- Neandertal burned a huge number of calories; they burned
twice the calories of the laborer today
- cultural adaptations
- Fire was the center of Neandertal life. It
held the group together
- Louis Binford: Neanderthals made inefficient
use of fire. They also didn't plan ahead
and take advantage of predictable events (like a
salmon run). They were exploiting the environment
"on an encounter basis" rather than on "a tactical
- used skins for clothing
- Neandertal worn-down teeth indicate that they
may have "tanned" leather by chewing
- used medical plants in order to cure their own
- did surgery
- The Neandertal average group was "about a dozen people
were seldom over twenty"
- we know from their high dependence on tortoises (given
the tortoises' high sensitivity to overexploitation)
that the populations
- Ice Age
- The Neandertals were "ice age specialists."
But it is also said that the Neandertals were
"generalists, not specialists" in the sense
that "everyone had to know how to do every thing"
- There was a 15 to 20 degree change in world temperatures
in 20 years
- A change of a degree or two during a time span of 20 years
would be considered a lot
- And about ca. 35,000 ybp there was an increase in the
cold of 5 - 6 degrees F.
- and there was less tree growth
- During Neandertal times the North Sea was a dry plain
- Excavations have uncovered several Neandertal cemeteries
- The graves prove that the Neandertals dealt consciously with
the notion of death
- But some argue that this burial practice doesn't in itself
prove that the Neandertals had spirituality or religion
- Others suggest that burial suggest spirituality, and that
suggests complex thought, and that suggest the presence of a
language like we know it
- Erik Trinkaus: But there was concern for family. They were
burying their dead, for example
- Abstract thought requires words (language)
- They had music (flute)
- bone of a bear, from Croatia
- Neandertal also cared for the sick and aged
- The individual from Shanidar appears as Creb, "the
or magician," the "most revered holy man of all
of the clans," in Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave
- "There is no doubt that they were a social group that
did take care of their members." (Iraq)
- Neandertal "diagnostics": low forehead, high brow ridges,
large nasal opening, prognathasm, recessed chin, and "teardrop
- Neandertal brains, on average, are larger than ours today,
but that doesn't mean they were more intelligent than we
- Neandertals also seemed to have an unusual relationship between
men and women
- The men and women may have led mostly separate lives,
with men bringing few things back to the cave that didn't need
of some sort
- there may not have been much concern for family
- Neandertals did not
have speech abilities like modern humans
- hyoid bone --
bone situated at the base of the tongue
- The skull is missing from the Neandertal in Kebara Cave.
Could this be "like a Catholic relic?"
- St. Caesare, 36,000 ybp, one of the last of the Neandertals, had
a wolf tooth ornament
- Problems include:
- The "Neandertal Problem" is about why the Neandertals disappeared so suddenly about 35,000 ypb
- This probably relates to the fact that the Neandertals were very specialized to exploit a specific ecological niche
- 25 - 30 people can not live by themselves
- One must have at least 250 participating in the
same mating system, "Otherwise you are doomed."
- Are they a separate species, or are they a variety of Homo
- Did they interbreed with the Cro-Magnon?
- Near Amud Cave in Israel there are caves with burials suggesting
a relationship between Homo sapiens sapiens and Neandertal
- In Europe, Neandertal and Homo sapiens sapiens occupied
the same area for at least 10,000 years, 50,000 years in the
- We do have examples of Homo sapiens sapiens and
Neandertal from the cave
- The cave was lived in for 150,000 years
- 40% of the identifiable bones are from tortoises
- we know from their high dependence on tortoises
(given the tortoises' high sensitivity to overexploitation)
that the populations were small
- Their average group was "about a dozen
people; there were seldom more than twenty
- If so, are any Neandertals ancestral to any contemporary
- Did the Neandertals speak a language?
- Paul Mellars thinks they had a "proto-language,"
a language of a 2-year-old child
- Neander Valley (1856)
- The Neander-tal in 19th century German
- 50,000 ybp
- "only a few thousand Neandertals inhabited Southern France"
- cave dwellers
- 85% of their diet was meat (via
bone nitrogen analysis)
- Dordogne Valley
- La Ferrassie
- La Chapelle-aux-Saints ("The Old Man")
- red pigment suggest intentional burial
- "first to leave such evidence of caring"
- Combe Grenal
- Le Moustier ("Mousterian")
- Cap Blanc
- St. Caesar, SW France
- Castelle Mayo -- SW France
- Amud Cave
- Kabara Cave
- Mt. Carmel Caves, 100,000 ybp
- [Qafzeh Cave]
- 250,000 ybp not Neandertal
- Johan Karl Fuhlrott
- Marcellan Boule
- The "Old Man" of La Chappelle-aux-Saints (France)
Publications / Bibliography