Register to reply

What humans were doing for 200k years?

by Snip3r
Tags: 200k, humans
Share this thread:
Snip3r
#1
Dec9-12, 02:52 AM
P: 86
if the first known human fossil is 200k years old why the earliest known human civilisation is just few thousand years old? Why there was no reasonable developments for a very large time like 190k years?
Phys.Org News Partner Biology news on Phys.org
Rising temperatures can be hard on dogs
It takes two to court: Researchers identify functions of two classes of mouse pheromone receptors
Underground amphibians evolved unique ear
thorium1010
#2
Dec9-12, 03:03 AM
P: 200
Quote Quote by Snip3r View Post
if the first known human fossil is 200k years old why the earliest known human civilisation is just few thousand years old? Why there was no reasonable developments for a very large time like 190k years?
It is not possible to know what factors that led to human civilization. One main factor would be development of agriculture (ability to grow our own food) which helped us to settle down in various parts of the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture
jim mcnamara
#3
Dec9-12, 06:52 AM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
P: 1,380
Some bad environmental changes occurred during that period. Glaciation.
Places that were not under ice had different climates then than now. The Sahara desert was not dry like it is now.
http://www.livescience.com/21070-gre...iry-farms.html

For part of the time humans were dying off and migrating away from the last Ice Age.
Things began to thaw about 11000BCE, and human populations began to recover afterward. As mentioned above, agriculture is a requisite for "reasonable developments". Most known artifacts of early human agriculture are pretty recent -- after the last Ice Age.

Ygggdrasil
#4
Dec9-12, 10:49 AM
Other Sci
Sci Advisor
P: 1,378
What humans were doing for 200k years?

For most of that period, humans existed in hunter-gatherer societies. The formation of civilizations required a number of technological developments (e.g. agriculture, domestication of animals) that not only required time to develop, but also the right geographical circumstances. Jared Diamond's book Guns, Germs, and Steel discusses how these factors allowed for civilizations to develop in some places in the world (Eurasia) but not others (Africa and the Americas).
Evo
#5
Dec9-12, 01:48 PM
Mentor
Evo's Avatar
P: 26,431
Quote Quote by Snip3r View Post
if the first known human fossil is 200k years old why the earliest known human civilisation is just few thousand years old?
Spear points made 500,000 years ago have been found.

Archaeologists Identify Oldest Spear Points: Used in Hunting Half-Million Years Ago

Nov. 15, 2012 — A collaborative study involving researchers at Arizona State University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Cape Town found that human ancestors were making stone-tipped weapons 500,000 years ago at the South African archaeological site of Kathu Pan 1 -- 200,000 years earlier than previously thought. This study, "Evidence for Early Hafted Hunting Technology," is published in the November 16 issue of the journal Science.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1115141542.htm

Oldest evidence for processing of wild cereals: starch grains from barley, wheat, on Paleolithic grinding stone

When the water level in the Sea of Galilee dropped in 1989, archaeologists rushed to excavate Ohalo II, an ancient human settlement. On the floor of one hut they found a large, flat, basaltic stone. The stone’s uneven surface yielded starch grains of grass seeds, mostly from wild barley and possibly also from wheat. This evidence presented in the journal Nature (August 5, 2004), pushes back the date for the processing of close wild relatives of domesticated wheat and barley, a key step in cultural development, to 23,000 years before the present era. “Ten thousand years before people were cultivating cereals, they were processing wild barley: starch grain analysis establishes a clear link between an intensive exploitation of wild cereals and the subsequent development of plant cultivation and domestication in the region ” explains Dolores Piperno, lead author.
http://www.stri.si.edu/english/about...ld_cereals.pdf

Grinding stones for other substances have been dated 40,000 years ago.
Darwin123
#6
Dec9-12, 06:20 PM
P: 741
Quote Quote by thorium1010 View Post
It is not possible to know what factors that led to human civilization. One main factor would be development of agriculture (ability to grow our own food) which helped us to settle down in various parts of the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture
Are we talking about technology or civilization?

Agriculture and animal husbandry allowed us to grow our own food. People have to work together in keep herds of animals together.

Many large communities feed themselves through fishing. Fishing is often associated with high technology. Fishing was probably a large incentive toward technological development even during the last ice age.

The major thing that changed is the end of the last ice age. Then agriculture, and husbandry became possible. However, some of the infrastructure for civilization started during the last ice age through fishing.

The Clovis people developed a rich culture during the last ice age. Presumably, they developed it through fishing. They probably didn't have animal husbandry or agriculture.
nkalanaga
#7
Dec10-12, 01:02 AM
P: 10
Another theory I read recently was that the limit was population density. Hunter-gatherers lived in small, widely spaced groups, making it harder for new ideas to spread. Once the population density of an area reached a level where groups met frequently, rather than just through traveling individuals, cultural and technological changes spread more rapidly. This, in turn, may have led to the development of "civilization", at least partly by the need for better conflict-resolution methods.

For what it's worth, "civilization" originally meant "living in cities", which requires high population densities, at least locally. Of course, in modern usage, it's possible to be civilized without urban areas.
Andy Resnick
#8
Dec10-12, 08:12 AM
Sci Advisor
P: 5,510
Quote Quote by Snip3r View Post
if the first known human fossil is 200k years old why the earliest known human civilisation is just few thousand years old? Why there was no reasonable developments for a very large time like 190k years?
Mostly they were spending all their time on social networks.
Snip3r
#9
Dec10-12, 08:48 AM
P: 86
thx all for your replies!

Quote Quote by Andy Resnick View Post
Mostly they were spending all their time on social networks.
haha...very funny

by this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timelin...ric_inventions i see the number of inventions are exponential for every 3k years...does it mean people are becoming exponentialy intelligent?ofcourse thats just a speculation!
Ygggdrasil
#10
Dec10-12, 12:45 PM
Other Sci
Sci Advisor
P: 1,378
Quote Quote by nkalanaga View Post
Another theory I read recently was that the limit was population density. Hunter-gatherers lived in small, widely spaced groups, making it harder for new ideas to spread. Once the population density of an area reached a level where groups met frequently, rather than just through traveling individuals, cultural and technological changes spread more rapidly. This, in turn, may have led to the development of "civilization", at least partly by the need for better conflict-resolution methods.

For what it's worth, "civilization" originally meant "living in cities", which requires high population densities, at least locally. Of course, in modern usage, it's possible to be civilized without urban areas.
Hunting/gathering is a very inefficient means of procuring food, so it is incapable of sustaining large, immobile societies. The development of animal husbandry and agriculture greatly increased the efficiency with which societies could produce food, allowing for larger population densities. More importantly, the increased efficiency of food production also enabled specialization. As only a small fraction of the population needed to work for food production, agrarian societies could dedicate a larger amount of the population toward non-food-producing pursuits such as government or science.

This is of course a great simplification of what happened, but I think it offers a better explanation for the greater rates of technological innovation in agrarian societies versus nomadic societies than your population density argument.
nkalanaga
#11
Dec10-12, 11:37 PM
P: 10
Ygggdrasil: Your point about hunter-gather cultures being unable to support large populations is quite true, and actually fits with the theory I mentioned, which wasn't actually my idea. If relatively dense populations are required for rapid advancement, H-G societies would be incapable of such advancement, both because of limited population (fewer people to have ideas, less free time to develop them), and because of limited contacts (each group would have to develop their own ideas, rather than borrowing from others).
jeannvk
#12
Dec11-12, 09:16 PM
P: 1
No, No No.... they were learning to make beer.

Civilization all started when they developed a method to make a consistent brew.

Then reasoned out that if they replanted the bigger grains, the field would produce more.

( modern agriculture - domestication of wheat )

then some had to stay and protect the crop from herbivores, and while passing time, built a more permament shelter ( early villages )

Plus a better method of storing the grain, and bigger vessels to brew and store it in (pottery)

and then hunter gatherers came to barter for the beer, so the village expanded and planted more ( trade routes developed. )
nkalanaga
#13
Dec11-12, 11:43 PM
P: 10
Jeannvk: That's probably at least partly true, as every culture ever to develop grain-based agriculture made beer from the grain, and apparently from the very beginning of the culture. Not only is beer fun to drink, but brewing it sterilizes the (often unsafe) water, and the yeast adds vitamins that aren't found in the grain.

Whiskey making in Appalachia started for much the same reason. The settlers west of the mountains could grow a lot of corn, but it was hard to ship to the cities on the east side. Barrels of whiskey were easier to ship, and sold for more money, so they turned the corn into moonshine.
Darwin123
#14
Dec12-12, 11:39 AM
P: 741
Quote Quote by jeannvk View Post
No, No No.... they were learning to make beer.

Civilization all started when they developed a method to make a consistent brew.

Then reasoned out that if they replanted the bigger grains, the field would produce more.

( modern agriculture - domestication of wheat )

then some had to stay and protect the crop from herbivores, and while passing time, built a more permament shelter ( early villages )

Plus a better method of storing the grain, and bigger vessels to brew and store it in (pottery)

and then hunter gatherers came to barter for the beer, so the village expanded and planted more ( trade routes developed. )
Partially true. Alcoholic beverages made agriculture more practical.

One couldn't become fully dependent on agriculture unless one had a way to preserve the food over the winter, spring and summer. You could supplement your diet using agriculture, but it wouldn't pay to become a full time farmer unless the food could be preserved.

Alcoholic beverages can be kept for a long time. The alcohol kills microorganisms that would destroy the food. Of course, the alcohol also kills pathogens. So adding it to food protects one from food poisoning, somewhat. So they also make it possible to settle near water sources that aren't clean.

Note that alcoholic beverages would be more important as a way to preserve food then as a recreational drug. If you want a recreational drug, opium and marijuana are probably much better to cultivate. So the humorous implication of your comment is a little bit wrong.

Actually, I am not sure anymore. Were poppies and hemp cultivated earlier or later then food crops? Don't hunters and gatherers have their own recreational drugs which don't need cultivation? I know that some American Indians were smoking tobacco without cultivating it.
Evo
#15
Dec12-12, 12:52 PM
Mentor
Evo's Avatar
P: 26,431
Quote Quote by Darwin123 View Post
Partially true. Alcoholic beverages made agriculture more practical.

One couldn't become fully dependent on agriculture unless one had a way to preserve the food over the winter, spring and summer. You could supplement your diet using agriculture, but it wouldn't pay to become a full time farmer unless the food could be preserved.

Alcoholic beverages can be kept for a long time. The alcohol kills microorganisms that would destroy the food. Of course, the alcohol also kills pathogens. So adding it to food protects one from food poisoning, somewhat. So they also make it possible to settle near water sources that aren't clean.

Note that alcoholic beverages would be more important as a way to preserve food then as a recreational drug. If you want a recreational drug, opium and marijuana are probably much better to cultivate. So the humorous implication of your comment is a little bit wrong.

Actually, I am not sure anymore. Were poppies and hemp cultivated earlier or later then food crops? Don't hunters and gatherers have their own recreational drugs which don't need cultivation? I know that some American Indians were smoking tobacco without cultivating it.
They drank beer for thousands of years because it was often the only safe source of "water". It wasn't strong beer and even children drank it in many cultures.
nkalanaga
#16
Dec12-12, 11:30 PM
P: 10
Cannabis doesn't have to be cultivated. It grows very nicely on its own. Also, the original wild variety really wasn't much good as a recreational drug. It would make you a little mellow, but that was about it.
turbo
#17
Dec13-12, 12:50 AM
PF Gold
turbo's Avatar
P: 7,363
We should bear in mind that for a long time beer was fermented by naturally-occurring yeasts in the air. It is quite likely that the "bottom" (sediment) from such beers became the preferred leavening agent for the first risen breads. I like flat-breads, but after a few millenia of that, it must have been nice to have had access to some risen breads that were crusty and dependably chewy, not to mention long-lived and portable. Some of these developments in food-production were probably quite pivotal to allowing people to move longer distances and provision themselves during their travels.
Chronos
#18
Dec13-12, 02:38 AM
Sci Advisor
PF Gold
Chronos's Avatar
P: 9,360
Humans were brought to the brink of extinction about 70k years ago by the Toba supervolcano eruption. Chances are, that also erased whatever prior cultural advancements that had been achieved. A series of ice ages thereafter did little to improve the human condition until the end of the last ice age about 11,000 years ago. When you are fighting day to day for your next meal, pondering 'big' issues is not a priority. Writing did not emerge until around 7000 years ago, when priveleged members of society had the luxury of not worrying about their next meal. Knowledge that did not impart essential survival skills did not persist prior to that time. Humans have done a remarkable job of archiving knowledge since then.


Register to reply

Related Discussions
Humans were using stone spear points over 1/2M years ago History & Humanities 5
Estimate how many books profit over 200k$? Precalculus Mathematics Homework 13
Anomalous Quasar Observations 200k Light Year Jet? And So On. Astronomy & Astrophysics 11
Stone Tools Reveal Humans Lived in Britain 700,000 Years Ago History & Humanities 10
Humans could be living on the Moon within 20 years: BBC General Physics 17