Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

By William Howells | Go to book overview

THE OLD HUNTERS--THE FIRST STEP

5
Early tools: the Lower Paleolithic

We stand no chance of finding out anything about early language. We are not going to know much more about the earliest rudiments of the rest of culture. But there is this difference: the economic or material side of culture does leave actual objects behind, and so we can begin to study its history with these.

It will be only a fragmentary history at best, as common sense will tell you. Imagine yourself as a toothy, not too clever hominid, bent on becoming human. You are a more natural tool-user than is a chimpanzee: your hands are better proportioned, with shorter fingers, and freer and more nimble. Furthermore, your arms are less strong and your canine teeth do not protrude, so that a little something held in the hand will be a distinct help in attacking ape-man or beast or in opening the tough rind of a wild fruit.

The things you would use, back there in the Pliocene, would be more or less random to begin with: a stick for this and a stone for that. But you and your descendants might begin to keep a stick which seemed to have just the right heft, instead of dropping it and forgetting it after it had been used. Finally your ten thousandth great-grandson not only might be trimming a new stick with a sharp rock to make it do, but also might be appreciating the stick's form and uses so clearly that he and his fellows were making the same thing repeatedly.

This would not accord with the notion of Ug the Cave Man whacking a bear on the head with a stick for the first time and then, astonished at his cleverness, rushing around to apprise an other cave men of what can be done with clubs. On the contrary,

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Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by William Howells 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Content 9
  • Prologue 13
  • The Nature of Human Life 17
  • 1 - The Coming of Mankind 17
  • 2 - The Meaning of Society 31
  • 3 - Culture: How We Behave 45
  • 4 - Language: How We Talk 56
  • The Old Hunters--The First Step 69
  • 5 - Early Tools: The Lower Paleolithic 69
  • 6 - Early Men 82
  • 7 - The End of the Stone Age 101
  • 8 - The Last Living Hunters 118
  • The New Farmers -- the Second Step 135
  • 9 - The First Food Growers: The Neolithic 135
  • 10 - The Spread of Modern Races 154
  • 11 - Asia and the Western Farmers 168
  • 12 184
  • 13 - African Herders and Gardeners 206
  • The New Societes 223
  • 14 - The Organization of Society 223
  • 15 - The Meaning of Religion 241
  • 16 - Inventions and Changes 255
  • The New World 17 the Oldest Americans 273
  • Cities and Bronze-The Third Step 315
  • 19 - The Cradles of Civilization in Asia 315
  • 20 - Egypt, Crete and the Beginnings of Europe 336
  • Epilogue 353
  • Author's Note 363
  • Index 365
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