The Stone Age

I have been wondering about people in the past.  Specifically people way in the past.  How much were they like us?  Usually in my imagination, Neolithic people are like half-ape, half-person.  Grunting and frenzied and...I don't know, like cave people.

But homo sapiens are homo sapiens, right? And whenever I stop to think about it, it seems most likely that they were just like us. Just like us! But without indoor plumbing, and with different gods.

This week we made a grand tour of Wiltshire, a county crammed full of Neolithic sites. Stonehenge, Woodhenge, all kinds of henges. And huge burial mounds and giant pyramids and stuff.  Did you know that archeologists now think that in the Neolithic period, Britain was as populated as it is now?! woa.

My favorite spot is Avebury, which is now a sleepy little village, but 5,000 years ago it must have been a booming metropolis! There's a huge stone henge, and in the middle ages people built their little village inside it.  The henge is 14 times bigger than Stonehenge and 500 years older (plus there are absolutely no tourists and you can climb on the stones).  It's crazy. And from that henge, there is a mile-long "avenue" lined with massive stones that leads to another henge.

We walked down it in the eerie mist.  a 5,000 year old main street or something!

So.  They built this giant site, with henges and avenues and cemeteries, with stones so outrageously huge and heavy that you'd have to have all kinds of brains and organization to erect them.
Oh, and did I mention that they also built Silbury Hill, a pyramid as big as the pyramids in Egypt, but completely mysterious?!

Since we know so little about them, we construct our ideas of what they were like based on some stones and some ancient rubbish heaps.  And since we don't really understand anything about them, we say that it was all created for "ceremony" or "religion" or some kind of mystical thing.  But I swear, if an archaeologist thousands of years in the future dug up our homes, you couldn't blame them for saying that our religion was based around the ceremony of gathering around and worshipping a television.  Right?

"Prehistoric" for some reason can mean "pre-real-people".  Like this here comic. But I have convinced myself that people were people, even way back then, and that if I went back in time, I would be able to adjust pretty easily to their way of life.  Even without toilets and hot showers.

I guess that means I'm with the creators of the Flintstones on this one.


Super L said...

Agatha Christie wrote a cool mystery once set in ancient Egypt. she said she wrote it to combat this very idea, that somehow ancient people were different from us. It was a pretty fascinating read.

Karina - Mitcheal said...

Ah, I couldn't agree with you more, Katie! Other than having different food/shelter/clothing, what would make us think that our ancestors behaved so differently than us? I think it is our strange idea that evolution/adaptation is synonymous with progress. Who's to say they weren't more "civilized" than us? Ah, all we can do is guess.