Prehistory: How did Paleolithic hunters and gatherers live? –

In a previous article we already talked about Prehistory and, specifically, about hunters and gatherers in the Paleolithic. We suggest you learn more about the Prehistory: How did Paleolithic hunters and gatherers live? Interesting, right? So start reading.

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Prehistory: Paleolithic hunters and gatherers, how did they live?

The prehistoric era covered the longest period of humanity, and in fact includes from the appearance of man until the first writings are given. We can say that the prehistory is divided into neolithic, paleolithic and stone age.

Focusing on the paleolithicthe remains of paintings of the man who lived in the caves has allowed us to know that these They were mainly dedicated to hunting animals and that, moreover, They also collected.

Adaptation to the Environment

In order to carry out the harvest, it was necessary to adapt to the environment, which implies the ability of man to obtain from his natural environment the resources for the subsistence and growth of society.

Paleolithic humans they got their food by hunting of large and small animals, harvest of wild fruits and fishing. This way of adaptation to the environment It is the simplest technique, since the natural resources as they occur in nature, that is, without producing them, since we are still far from creating factories and developing the production and manufacturing process.

This post will be good for you to read to clarify the chronology and concepts:

How did Paleolithic man live?

Settlement Form

The humans of Paleolithic were nomadswhich implies that they should move from one place to another in search of new resources for hunting and gathering. In this way they prevented the resources of a place from being exhausted.

Having to move continuously, the Paleolithic man did not need to build houses, since he did not have a fixed settlement. So that lived in caves or built very precarious camps with the materials they obtained from nature: hides, wood, reeds, skins, clay, animal bones.

Caves are in fact the most famous example of Paleolithic shelters, although the number of caves used by Paleolithic people is drastically small relative to the number of hominins believed to have lived on Earth at that time because as we say, to their status as nomads. Most hominins have probably never entered a cave, much less lived in one. However, the remains of hominin settlements show interesting patterns. In a cave, a tribe of Neanderthals kept a fire burning for a thousand years, leaving behind an accumulation of coals and ashes. In another cave, post holes in the dirt floor reveal that the residents built a kind of shelter or roofed enclosure to protect themselves from the water that dripped on them from the cave ceiling. They often used the rear parts of the cave as dumpsters, depositing their rubbish there.

In the Upper Paleolithic (last part of the Paleolithic), the caves ceased to act as houses. Instead, they probably became places for the former to gather for ritual and religious purposes.

Modern archaeologists know of few types of shelters used by ancient peoples other than caves. There are some examples, but they are quite rare. In Siberia, a group of Russian scientists discovered a house or tent with a frame built from mammoth bones. The large tusks supported the roof, while the skulls and thighs formed the walls of the tent. Several families could live in the interior, where three small hearths, little more than stone rings, kept people warm during the winter. About 50,000 years ago, a group of Paleolithic humans camped on the shores of a lake in the south of France. On Terra Amata, these hunter-gatherers built a long narrow house. The foundation was a ring of stones, with a flat threshold stone for a gate at each end. Vertical poles in the middle of the house supported the roof and walls of sticks and twigs, probably covered with a layer of straw. A hearth outside served as a kitchen, while a smaller hearth inside kept people warm. Its residents could easily leave both dwellings. That is why they are not considered real houses, which was a development of the Neolithic period rather than the Paleolithic period.

Social organization

Paleolithic men and women came together to form hunting groupswhich were called hordes or bands. They were composed of one or more families and the number of members was variable according to the times.

At first, the person who made the decisions rotated. Later this was modified and bosses or “gang head” arose. However, the boss had the same duties as the rest, having to work in the same way. Thanks to this, Paleolithic society is an egalitarian society, in which all its members are considered equal and there are no privileges for a few.

cultural production

The first tools were crude hand axes carved on both sides. Later they created other instruments of stone, wood or bone that were used to tear animals, cut, sew skins or work wood and bone. Later they invented the bow and arrow.

These companies also carried out other symbolic manifestations What paintings, figurines and burials with offerings. These were ways to express their beliefs about death, or rituals to ask for abundance and fertility. to the forces of nature.

Illustration that recreates life in a nomadic tribe

Ekain Cave, in the Basque Country

Cave paintings in the Altamira Cave

food preservation

Hunter-gatherers, as we have already indicated, adapted to the environment in which they lived and they managed to survive using whatever means were at their disposal. However, hunting, fishing and gathering were activities that suffered fluctuations and in times of scarcity or, simply, when the arrival of winter made many food sources useless. Hence, the first human communities had problems feeding themselves. Therefore, hunter-gatherers devised various forms of store food in case they needed to get hold of them to ensure their subsistence.

One of the products that researchers have found that hunter-gatherers stored most frequently was nuts. Prehistoric men and women quickly understood that the various nuts stood the test of time very well and that they were a valuable source of energy, especially during the harsh winter months. Thus, dried fruits such as walnuts or chestnuts very quickly became the emergency reserve of our ancestors.

On the other hand, the hunter-gatherer groups also learned to put into practice different techniques that allowed the products from hunting, fishing and gathering to last longer. Many of these conservation techniques that were already used by the first human groups continued to be used practically until the 20th century, when technological advances made it possible to start preserving food in other ways.

Thus, for example, it is known that they used the sun dried meats and, especially of vegetables, smoking and cold storage. The existence of salt has also been documented in the last millennia of the Prehistoric era. In this way, the hunter-gatherer communities ensured their means of subsistence even in times of greatest scarcity. Despite this, however, the need to search for new resources was constant and the mobility of these first human communities was a necessary condition to ensure their survival until the emergence of agriculture and livestock.

Knowledge of the environment in which they moved allowed hunter-gatherers to be aware of the possibilities that this gave them and also to know what resources were available at each time of the year. Although, as noted above, hunter-gatherers were primarily nomadic, the knowledge of their territory It was essential for their proper survival, so they spent important periods in a specific place or also moved more frequently through a larger but well-known area.

Without great means with which to face unknown dangers, a good knowledge of the environment in which they found themselves was essential for the survival of hunter-gatherer communities. Therefore, with the anticipation of returning to a specific place (unless the supplies in that area were considered definitively exhausted or too scarce to be guaranteed to survive in that area), storage places have been found where it could be store food safely until it is needed.

Learn also about the process of hominization of the human being:

Facts to highlight about the life of paleolithic man

Some curious facts about Paleolithic man must be highlighted, and that is that the concept of economy as an exchange system in which money is applied as we know it today, was still very far away for these humans.

However, we can talk about economy if we refer to the tools that they designed and used at the time. Why? Well, because by making tools, they are already thinking about the need to organize their ways of obtaining food and accumulating it to ensure sustenance in times of scarcity.

On the other hand, we are already told that necessity sharpens ingenuity. And this is how we can verify that during those four million years of evolution, the human brain grew. In fact, the size of the brain is related to the learning capacity of man and his intelligence to develop storage systems for his goods and food. To this we add that man also had to learn to communicate among his fellow human beings because, only in this way, could a social organization and work team for survival become effective.

Video about what life was like in the Paleolithic:

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