Civilization’s Fragile Roots- article notes
We have absolutely no instinctive feel for long periods of time
We tend to assume that our civilized past extends back a very long time
We may indeed be too smart for our own good
Our structure of civilization is shaky
Problem: How do historians make determinations about the pre-historical period?
Despite the absence of recorded historical documentation there are ways for scholars to research the pre-historical.
Fossils: These are the mineralized remains of ancient plants and animals that have become trapped within layers of rock. We can study fossils and thus make assessments about how ancient human ancestors lived.
Artifacts: These are the remains of any man-made objects left behind by early humans or human civilizations. By studying these artifacts we can make further assessments about how early humans lived.
What types of historians study this?
Paleoanthropologist: Scholar who studies the ancient fossilized remains of plant and animal matter in order to make assessments about the way in which ancient people and societies lived.
Archaeologists: Scholar who studies the physical man-made remains (artifacts) of ancient peoples in order to make assessments about how they lived.
Ape or Man?
Australopitheane: -on earth 10 million years ago =mostly ape like
Human features: -walks upright –can hold stuff with hands
Ape features: -brain size 450-500cc -a lot of body hair –brow ridge –large teeth –flat noise –jutting jaw
Homo habilis: -on earth 2 million years ago =man/ape like
Human Features: -walks upright -communication to pass knowledge -tool making -skull shape rounded
Ape Features: -4ft tall –brow ridge -large teeth –brain size 650-800cc -body hair
Homo errectus: -on earth 1.6 million to 200 000 years ago =mostly man like
Human features: -brain size 880 to 1100cc -smaller teeth -upright –hair mostly on head -cooked food on fire -brow ridge