August 19, 2014
AP World History
Mr. Gonzalez 4B
A Paleolithic Woman in the Twentieth Century
1. I find Nisa’s account for understanding the life of earlier Paleolithic people very useful because it gives a firsthand account of how people lived. Nisa explains how marriages worked, how loss was dealt with, if lovers were used, and healing rituals. Some evidence of contact with a wider world that I found in her story was the appearance of jewelry (copper rings) in the women’s hair and the moment right before Tashay died when they visited the Tswana village (cattle-keeping people).
2. Nisa’s account indicates that the San people accepted having lovers and having affairs even though they were still married. They also seemed to have arranged marriages. Her story also indicates that it was relatively common to have more than one husband. For example, Nisa had four. In our society today, both polygamy and affairs are deeply frowned upon. It is also rare to have arranged marriages, but in some places in the world, it still occurs.
3. Nisa understands the divine as a force that is outside of her scope of influence; however, she doesn’t understand the idea of God that people in this age have. She understands that the healing rituals are a part of the San’s people’s lives and that the curing ritual is a way of communication to their God. God may choose to heal the person or not. She experiences firsthand a healing ritual and describes the pain that she feels during part of it.
4. I find Nisa’s overall assessment of San life very realistic. She begins with a romanticized version, when she saw her father with meat and married her first husband, Tashay. She then finishes her account with an overly critical analysis of her society. Overall, it is a very good first-hand source. Her happiness when she sees her father coming with honey/meat and her emotions as she falls in love support her romanticism while her doubt of God and talk of multiple affairs...
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