Early Civilization: An Introduction to Anthropology

By Alexander A. Goldenweiser | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND INDUSTRY

THE ECONOMIC ADJUSTMENT

Man came into the world naked. He had no tools nor weapons. For shelter he had to use caves, or, if these were not available, trees; and when pressed by danger, he would climb these, for this without doubt he could do. His only means of transport on land were his two legs, and to cross streams he had to wade or swim, where that was possible. He knew no arts and his food he had to take where he found it. His diet was largely vegetarian, although supplemented here and there by whatever meat could be secured from dead animals upon which he might stumble, if lucky. Nature was not always kind to him, and he was the inferior of many wild creatures in size, in strength, in speed, in the sharpness of his senses and in the natural weapons of offence and defence.

But withal, he proved more than amply equipped to cope with the situation. His strength was considerable. In his hands he possessed an organ of great usefulness from the beginning, and of unlimited future potentialities. He had the power of speech, which proved of immense practical use and a source of great emotional satisfaction even before it developed into an incomparable organ for the expression and the moulding of thought. And, most important of all, his skull harbored a brain the like of which in complexity could not be found among the many creatures on land or in the sea. Also, in proportion to his size, his brain was much larger and heavier than that of any other animal, leaving far behind even the relatively large brain of the anthropoid apes. This amazing organ enabled him to gather up individual experiences with great rapidity and store them away for future reference. Moreover, his brain

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