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Sunday, 03 March 2024, 23:12 (11:12 PM) CST, day 063 of 2024

Prehistoric Cultures

Fall 2012 Calendar -- DAY  [archive]

Fall 2012 Calendar  -- EVENING [archive]

Dates and Times to Remember 

class slides on-line 

Monday, 04 March 2024, 05:12 (05:12 AM) GMT, day 064 of 2024
. . . in History 
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Secrets of the Stone Age Series

01 02 03
Terms / Concepts Notes
Cultures Sites Individuals Bibliography
/ Resources

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"According to the history books, civilization began with the ancient Egyptians. But in this intriguing three-part series, iconoclastic anthropologist Richard Rudgley, author of the provocative Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age, argues that it began earlier — much earlier. Not available in French-speaking Canada. 3-part series, 51 minutes each."

"In Secrets of the Stone Age, Richard Rudgley offers a lively account of his journey across the continents in search of the lost legacy of prehistoric man. He takes us to Ancient Egypt, where excavations at Abydos have unearthed hieroglyphs belonging to an age before the pharaohs, and to the stone circles and burial chambers in Ireland, which precede Stonehenge by two millennia. We are introduced to the Ice Man, a 5,300-year-old mummy, whose body reveals that acupuncture was practiced in Stone Age Europe, and to the awe-inspiring cave paintings of Ice Age France. And in Indonesia, we examine stone tools that prove pre-Neanderthal man undertook raft voyages across the open sea --700,000 years before the Kon Tiki! An illuminating work as well as a wonderful read. Richard Rudgley has an advanced degree in Ethnography from Oxford; among his books is The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age."

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Hagar Qim

Hagar Qim, Malta

Episode 1: "Wisdom of the Stones: Life in the Neolithic Age" ©2000

51 min., 2000, VC 3906, pt. 1

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Mother Goddess,  Hagar Qim, Malta

Mother Goddess
Hagar Qim, Malta

In this program, anthropologist Richard Rudgley strives to roll back the limits of history to include the remarkable achievements of the Neolithic Age. Engineering skills, as demonstrated by the temple of Hagar Qim and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, in Malta; indications of well-developed religious systems; evidence of acupuncture techniques; examples of bookkeeping via clay tokens; and proof of an intricate social structure through the digs at Çatal Höyük and Asikli Höyük, in Turkey, reveal the depth and the genius of the Neolithic peoples. Architect Richard England, writing specialist Denise Schmandt Besserat, and others support Rudgley’s thesis with expert analysis.

Episode 2: "Frozen in Time: Life in the Upper Paleolithic Age"" ©2000

51 min., 2000, VC 3906, pt. 2

Anthropologically speaking, social complexity and technological skill are generally considered recent human developments. Could these qualities have appeared much longer ago than previously suspected? In this program, anthropologist Richard Rudgley shatters the stereotype of life in what is commonly referred to as the Ice Age. Findings such as a prehistoric bead factory, a cave cathedral, and beautifully sculpted female figurines sketch a plausible portrait of a society in which women and children were equal to men and daily tasks required being just as intelligent as humans are today.

Terms / Concepts

Episode 3: "The Human Story: Traces of Humankind's Oldest Relatives"

51 min., 2000, VC 3906, pt. 3

In this program, anthropologist Richard Rudgley presents the results of his research into Neanderthal society, skewering the popular misconception that Neanderthals were subhuman. After a visit to Israel, where Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons once coexisted, Rudgley travels to Portugal, where he talks about the 24,500-year-old skeleton of a child that appears to be a Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrid. Finally, seeking back even farther in time, he examines the few remaining clues to the thoughts and lives of humankind’s most distant relatives: some ochre stains, shaped stones, and tools crafted with fossils embedded in their handles.

Terms / Concepts

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Terms / Concepts / Features

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  • single-season sites

  • year-round sites

  • cold climate adaptation

  • speech

  • burial rituals

  • "The Neandertal problem"

  • art

  • "The Grandmother Revolution"


  • obsidian

    • volcanic glass

    • the world's oldest mirrors

      • made at Çatal Höyük

    • Dr. Tristan Carter (obsidian specialist)

    • Cappadocia

      • central Turkey

      • source of obsidian

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  • Upper Paleolithic -- "The Ice Age"

    • glaciers covered up to 30% of the earth

    • rivers were a key feature in all of ice age life

    • they were living in communities of 20 - 25 people

    • but they must have met once in awhile, like at Mas d'Azil

      • French Pyrenees

      • 12,000

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  • Neolithic: 8,000 - 3,000 B.C. ("Wisdom of the Stones")

  • Copper: 3,300 B.C.

  • Bronze Age: 2,200 B.C.

  • "Dawn of Writing" 3,100 B.C.

  • Ötzi The Iceman

    • 5,300 ybp

  • Finland today is at the edge of the polar ice cap

  • Ice age hunters left a trail of food which shows that they were our intellectual equals

    • if they were not knowledgeable they would have been dead


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  • foothills of the Pyrenees in Southern France

    • 30,000 ybp this was the land of the hunter

  • the Upper Paleolithic diet may have only been 20% meat

    • the other 80% was probably provided by the women

    • the women and children probably collected berries, leaves, fruits, vegetables and some meats (like rabbits. . . .)

  • they were making beads out of wooly mammoth ivory and soapstone

    • beads may be made in two sites, in two stages

    • they produced beads to a standard size of only 6 mm

      • these were probably done by the women

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  • the greatest technological advance in the Pleistocene was control of fire

    • this was the first rung on the ladder to metallurgy and eventually to the industrial revolution

  • the image of the hunter providing for his family is only half the story. The contributions of the women must be considered

  • prehistoric art

    • 40,000 ybp

  • Homo erectus left Africa ca. 1.8 mya, not 1.0 mya

  • "Grandmother Revolution"

    • child care was shared and women were increasingly able to play an expanded role in society

  • textile technology existed near 30,000 ybp at a high level of sophistication

    • this is generally a female activity

    • there are textiles represented on female statuettes through Europe, including the "Venus figurines

  • tax token

    • Denise Schmandt Besserat

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Cultures / Sites


  • Egypt

  • Mesopotamia

  • Stonehenge

    • ca. 5,000 ybp

  • Malta

    • Temple of Hagar Qim
    • Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
    • known only as "The Temple Builders"
    • 5,000 - 2,500 B.C.

  • Bolzano, Italy

    • Ötzi "The Iceman"
    • 3,300 B.C.
    • ca. 46 when he died
    • tattoos -- acupuncture

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  • Çatal Höyük

    • 7,000 B.C.
    • 10,000 people
    • world's oldest mirrors

  • Cappadocia

    • Central Turkey
    • Source of Obsidian

  • Asikli Höyük

    • Turkey
    • 8,000 B.C.

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  • Portuguese Boy

    • 4-year-old
    • 25,000 ybp

  • Vezère Valley

    • images of females

  • Dolni Vestonice

    • Upper Paleolithic
    • Czech Republic
    • ivory female figurines
    • some of the most precious treasures of the Old Ice Age

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  • Niaux Cave

    • French Pyrannies
    • "Hall of the Black Bison"

  • Schöengen, Germany

    • 400,000 ybp
    • wooden spears
    • "The Wood Age"
    • "The Stone Age wasn't the stone age at all."
    • "The Wood Age" is as old as imaginable."

  • Lascaux

    • 15,000 ybp

  • Israel

    • 120,000 - 38,000 ybp

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  • Shanidar

    • fossil pollen
    • 50,000 ybp burial
    • "Nandy" (Creeb)

  • Strait of Gibraltar -- Morocco

  • Pech Merle

    • 23,000 ybp

  • Pergouset Cave

    • 13,000 ybp

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  • Richard Rudgley
  • Dodi Ben Ami (Paleolithic technologist)
  • John Shea (archaeologist)
  • Yoel Rak (anatomy)
  • Erella Hovern (archaeologist)
  • Jaõo Silão
  • Ralph Solecki (Shanidar)
  • Robert Bednarik (marine archaeologist)
    • thinks humans could have made boat voyages as early as 1 mya
  • Daniel Quinn (Civilization and Beyond?)
  • Olga Soffer ("Grandmother Revolution")
  • Michel Lorblanchet (prehistoric art)
  • Frank Bahr(accupuncture)
  • Denise Schmandt Besserat (writing)
  • Tristan Carter (obsidian)
  • Richard England

Publications / Bibliography

  • TBA

E-mail Address

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