"It's not a spectator sport!"

 

Prehistoric culture refers to human evolution and development that occurred before the discovery of writing. For a short cut, this period is sometimes called the Stone Age.  

 

As the sciences of Geology, Paleontology, Anthropology and Archeology have developed, they have, by our time [2008], produced a vast, complex body of knowledge about the dawn of the human mind. Much of this material is based on firm fact and credible speculation and is easily available. For example, Wikipedia has numerous articles about prehistoric humanity that condense volumes of research into short, easy bundles that most of us can access with a click of our mouse. How About That? I especially recommend <Human Evolution Time Line> , <Human Language Origins> and <Stone Age>. There are other sources easily available, such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, that are backed up by responsible research. Help yourself.    

 

In addition to well established theories about prehistoric culture, there are also many budding hypothesis currently being tested that add interest to current work. We can look forward in the future to more and more understanding of our ancient ancestors if we know how interpret discoveries in a sound rational manner. 

 

If we correctly evaluate modern discoveries and proposed hypotheses, it can help us understand human nature and shed light on modern human problems

 

What is the role of reason in the life of mankind. Question One. What does our current knowledge about prehistoric times tell us about the use of reason in the prehistoric culture? Question Two: How do we use our personal, modern day reason in order to answer Question One.

 

In order to examine the role of reason in prehistoric times, it first behooves us to understand the role of reason in our own lives here and now.

 

All of the information in this Time Line is presented as material to help each person understand and use their own reasoning talents in a beneficial manner. Some definitions are presented to help clarify the role of definitions in sound rational thinking.

 

The information I put here is scanty. I highly recommend Wikipedia Human Evolution Time Line. Wikipedia [2008 oct] has a detailed, illustrated Time Line. They say,

 

"The timeline of human evolution outlines the major events in the development of human species, and the evolution of humans' ancestors. It includes a brief explanation of some animals, species or genera, which are possible ancestors of Homo sapiens sapiens. It begins with the origin of life and presents a possible line of descendants that led to humans. This timeline is based on studies from paleontology, developmental biology, morphology and from anatomical and genetic data. The study of human evolution is a major component of anthropology."

Notice how the above writer modifies his claims with 'some animals', 'possible ancestors', 'possible line of descendants'. Scientific writing avoids absolutes and recognizes that future discoveries may require modifications. Scientists will talk about 'margins of error', 'working definition' and 'hypothesis'.  Commonsense rationality does the same.

 

750,000 BC to 15,000 BC: The Paleolithic Age: 

The Paleolithic Age is defined in AmHerCD99 as the prehistoric period beginning with the earliest chipped stone tools, which began about 750,000 years ago and ended with the Mesolithic Age which began about 15,000 years ago. 'Paleo' means ancient or prehistoric. Lithic relates to stone or rock. Scientists deduce the existence of human beings and their probable behavior in this period by studying artifacts, especially stone tools.

 

Trying to deduce the role of ancient people from surviving artifacts is a rational project requiring close observation and a joint effort among people who articulate and share their ideas on the subject. Modern people use their personal rationality to deduce possible and probable behavior of individuals hundreds of thousands of years ago. In other words, modern people use rational skills to seek knowledge about the rational skills of ancient people. Each of us is involved in this project because we must us our personal rational skills to decide how this information relates to our person way of living and the choices we make.

 

200,000 to 10,000 Prehistoric Time to 10,000 BCE

Wikipedia, [Human Evolution Time line 2008 Oct] states, "DNA evidence indicates that modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago."

 

Prehistoric time relates to the era before recorded history and to language before writing.

 

At some distant date, humans -- in spurts -- began exercising their reason in coherent clusters. As people in little bits and daps people slowly began to learn to use their reason properly, human deterministic evolution began to slowly allow a small degree of reliable prediction. With reliable prediction came a proportional freedom of choice and creative insight. Even a small dependable prediction made possible significant changes. As choices accumulated, civilization began to develop.

 

Jean Auel (1936-xxxx) in her series beginning with The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) entertained us with fictional musing on the drama of the dawn of human reason. Her stories obviously are conjecture but her work was well-founded on archeological information currently available to her.

 

[Gin Question, Does my brain reason while I observe?  Or Do I reason using my Intellect, my brain and other physiological functions. ]

Mesolithic Age.

 

150,000

Mitochondrial Eve lives in East Africa. She is the most recent female ancestor common to all mitochondrial lineages in humans alive today. [wiki hum evo time line] 

 

WIKIPEDIA, Mitochondrial Eve 2008 Oct.

"Mitochondrial Eve (mt-mrca) is the name given by researchers to the woman who is defined as the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) for all currently living humans. Passed down from mother to offspring, her mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is now found in all living humans: every mtDNA in every living person is derived from hers. Mitochondrial Eve is the female counterpart of Y-chromosomal Adam, the patrilineal most recent common ancestor, although they lived at different times. (This is a subjective comment and needs verification.)

"She is believed to have lived about 140,000 years ago in what is now Ethiopia, Kenya or Tanzania.[citation needed] The time she lived is calculated based on the molecular clock technique of correlating elapsed time with observed genetic drift.

"Mitochondrial Eve is the MRCA of all humans via the mitochondrial DNA pathway, not the unqualified MRCA of all humanity. All living humans can trace their ancestry back to the MRCA via at least one of their parents, but Mitochondrial Eve is defined via the maternal line. Therefore, she necessarily lived at least as long, though likely much longer, ago than the MRCA of all humanity.

"The existence of Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam does not necessarily imply the existence of population bottlenecks or a first couple. They each may have lived within a large human population at a different time. [Read On for more.]

[Gin Note on Wikipedia, 2008 Oct. Wikipedia is constructed by contributors and, consequently, Wiki information should be double checked with other sources. I did a quick Google Search on Mitochondrial Eve and learned there is considerable controversy in interpreting the evidence. Anyone interested in any subject, including this one, should do a more thorough search than Wikipedia provides. However, I use Wikipedia because it is easy to access, is generally available free to all, is condensed, and makes a good starting point. A person who finds an omission or an error in Wikipedia can add their own contribution and it will be accepted if it fits their criteria. ] 

 

70,000 BC

Appearance of mitochondrial haplogroup L2. Behavioral modernity. The FOXP2 gene (associated with the development of speech) appears in this period.  [wiki hum evo time line] 

 

60,000 BC

Y-chromosomal Adam lives in Africa. He is the most recent common ancestor from whom all male human Y chromosomes are descended. Appearance of mitochondrial haplogroups M and N, which participate in the migration out of Africa. [wiki hum evo time line]

 

50,000 BC

Migration to South Asia. M168 mutation (carried by all non-African males). Beginning of the Upper Paleolithic. mt-haplogroups U, K. [wiki hum evo time line]

 

40,000 BC

Migration to Australia and Europe (Cro-Magnon). [wiki hum evo time line]

 

25,000 BC

Neanderthals die out. Y-Haplogroup R2; mt-haplogroups J, X. [wiki hum evo time line]

 

12,000 BC

Beginning of the Mesolithic / Holocene. Y-Haplogroup R1a; mt-haplogroups V, T. Evolution of light skin in Europeans (SLC24A5). First domestication of the dog. Homo floresiensis dies out, leaving Homo sapiens as the only living species of the genus Homo. [wiki hum evo time line]

 

10,000 BC

Beginning of the Neolithic / Holocene. The invention of farming in the Fertile Crescent occurred during this time. [wiki hum evo time line]

 

15,000 to 10,000 BCE,  Mesolithic Age

15,000 BC: Mes·o·lith·ic (mµz"...-l¹th"¹k, mµs"-) adj. 1. Of, relating to, or being the cultural period of the Stone Age between the Paleolithic and Neolithic ages, marked by the appearance of the bow and cutting tools. --Mes·o·lith·ic n. The Mesolithic Age. [AmHerCD99]

 

Beginning of the Neolithic / Holocene. The invention of farming in the Fertile Crescent occurred during this time.

 

10,000 BC: Ne·o·lith·ic Age

 adj. Archaeology. Of or relating to the cultural period beginning around 10,000 B.C. in the Middle East and later elsewhere, characterized by the development of agriculture and the making of polished stone implements. [AmHerCD99]

 

3,500 B.C.: Bronze Age

Bronze Age n. A period of human culture between the Stone Age and the Iron Age, characterized by weapons and implements made of bronze.

 

1,500 B.C. Iron Age

Iron Age n. The period in human cultural development succeeding the Bronze Age, characterized by the introduction of iron metallurgy and in Europe beginning around the eighth century B.C.

Fiction

Jean Auel (born 1936) in her series beginning with The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980) entertained us with fictional musings on the drama of the dawn of human reason. Her stories obviously are conjecture but her work was founded on archeological information currently available to her.

 

James Albert. Michener (born 1907) , The Source, Michener also wrote Tales of the South Pacific (1947) and other historical novels. In The Source, Michener tells an intriguing story about an archeology dig. If you like fiction, Michener can let you be a virtual archeologist and go back in time through his mind.