Artifacts Found from the Earliest Civilizations

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Artifacts found from the earliest civilizations indicate that the most important concerns of these people were basic survival, finding food and shelter. Tools found from the era of Homohabilis, the first known species leading to modern man, were bones of animals, tree limbs and pieces of stone chipped to create sharp edges. These tools are believed to have been used not for hunting, but for digging, cutting plants, cracking nuts and slicing scavenged meat. These tools showed the first step towards civilization because it called for group cooperation.

The next group of human ancestors was Homoerectus. They existed about 1.6 million years ago and were the first species to migrate out of Africa and start peopling the Earth. They engaged in collective hunting and learned how to use fire. Homoerectus began to evolve into Homosapiens about 300,000 years ago and then into Neanderthal people about 125,000 years ago. These people were skilled toolmakers and hunters.

Artifacts found indicate that earlier species relied on one or two all purpose tools while Homosapiens created over sixty different tools such as knives, scrapers and spearheads, most fashioned from stone or bone. Artifacts show they built shelter out of trees, bones or caves, demonstrating that shelter was a concern amongst these people. There are also artifacts found that show the Neanderthal people buried their dead and provided them with food and goods, possibly meant to aid them in their voyage to an afterlife. This shows that they had religious beliefs even back then.

Between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, the Neanderthals were gone and the Eastern hemisphere was populated by human beings as we know them today. Some of the earliest human artifacts are cave paintings. Most paintings were of prancing animals and hunters. At this time, fishhooks, harpoons, bows, arrows and needles for sewing together animal skins were discovered. Masses of charred bones are evidence that these people had community feasts, which demonstrates the idea of cooperation and sharing.

Eventually, natural food supplies began to diminish and people began to accomplish food production as well as the domestication of animals. From this, people were able to live in one place rather than travel to find more food. As a result, villages began to form, trade developed and population increased. This began the true birth of human civilization and written records. Artifacts found from this period were pottery, weaved baskets, tools and weapons. Since civilizations were starting to stay in one place, they built homes for year-round habitation, usually made from stone. They also began to be concerned with storing food and did not have to worry if the storage receptacles were suited for travel, so they made them from clay pots. They were also able to keep drinking water in their homes in clay pots. Baskets were useful to gather harvests and the weaving technique used to make baskets soon resulted in the production of clothing from sheep wool. Tools needed to be sharper and more durable to farm. Weapons emerged more for warfare rather than animal hunting.

As civilizations progressed their artifacts began to progress as well. Artifacts used for entertainment purposes, luxury, weapons for warfare and other items began to surface. However, from the earliest artifacts found, historians can see that the most important concern in early civilizations was that of food, clothing, shelter, and basic survival.