The First Modern Man


The First Modern Man Essay, Research Paper

The First Modern Man

You re sitting in the first class of your college career, Human Nature. As you listen to the teacher describe the course you think this class is going to be a bird course. Then your heart is abruptly stopped when you hear the announcement that the first test will be today. Nervous, anxious and palms sweating you read the first question. Where did humans come from?

It s not a difficult question so you answer God of course. It s in the Bible and it has yet to be proven wrong. Duh? In Genesis 2:7 it states, And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Turning in the test you had a good feeling inside that you had aced it and that this class would be easy after all.

Maybe twenty or more years ago the above situation would have been typical. However, with exposure to scientific findings this topic is quite controversial now. The modern theory about our origin is that we gradually evolved from monkeys. Knowing that evolution is a long process one must ask whom where the first modernized humans if it wasn t Adam and Eve?

According to skeletal remains found in 1868, the Cro-Magnon man was an ancestor of prehistoric humans. Approximately 35,000 years ago, Cro-magnons, roamed the earth between the years of 30,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C. in the Neanderthal region of what is today known a France. Belonging to the same genus and species as modern man (Homo sapiens) one would have trouble distinguishing from a Cro-Magnon man walking down the street. The Cro-Magnon man stood upright and had an erect posture. The head was balanced, the forehead high, and the brow ridges were small which indicated modernization of the frontal lobes of the brain. They also possessed well-defined chins, larger brains, and prominent noses.

It is safe to assume that physically Cro-Magnons were indistinguishable from living Homo sapiens but what indicates that they were our intellectual equals? Living during the Ice Age, a time when resources were vast, survival was a task at hand. However, the Cro-Magnons were nomadic hunters and gatherers thus cold times were not necessarily hard times. Many Cro-Magnon sites found indicate that these early modern humans took full advantage of the resources available to them. Bone remains found at sites suggest that a typical diet included reindeer, bison, wild horse, mammoth, and fish along with seeds, berries, roots, and nuts. It is also evident that unlike other hominids Cro-Magnons took their food back to their living quarters and shared it amongst other families. In one locality in France, archaeologists identified the remains of a single animal distributed between three different campfire sites separated by hundreds of feet and occupied by different families.

As stated earlier the life of the Cro-Magnons was not a constant struggle because they were such good hunters. However, it is also obvious from the animal remains that their hunting techniques must have been just as efficacious. Some techniques included organized hunts that were both individual and with groups. During the seasonal migration period, the Cro-Magnons used cunning hunting skills and tools to kill their prey. Some tools used were traps to catch their prey along with bow and arrows and poisons. Boats and rafts were also built to accommodate fishing in deeper water. Fishnets that were used were woven of vine and fishhooks were made from animal bone.

Since the Cro-Magnons had seasonal hunting times it only made sense that their homes lie close to the places at which herds would roam. The dwellings of Cro-Magnons were most often caves and shelters but it is apparent that huts were made. During the winter season permanent settlements were built called Ice Age Huts. These teepee style built homes were made from branches and mammoth bones and were covered with animal skins. Holes were dug in the ground where the poles would be inserted. Then upon placement of the poles in the ground they were tied at the top with string made of animal guts. Large rocks were piled at the base of the teepee for support and durability. During the winter months Cro-Magnons also lived in homes called long huts. These were huts built large enough to hold entire tribes. Long huts had many entrances and rooms with several places designated for the use of fire. Remains of these huts have been discovered at a Ukrainian site. During the summer months, Cro-Magnons lived in tents that could easily be moved from place to place as they followed herds.

Cro-magnons were similar to modern humans in many ways including their fashion taste. Of course, the materials that they used were different from ours today, but they too dressed for the weather like us. For example in the summer time we try to wear as less clothes as possible to keep our bodies cool. The Cro-Magnons did the same thing by wearing clothes made from woven grass and even bark. In the cooler months they bundled up in softened leather sewn together with string made from animal guts.

As hominids began to evolve over the years their societal organization also began to show intense development. One sign of development showed in the evidence of their elaborate burials, which indicated some belief in the afterlife. The most profound example of a Cro-Magnon burial was found in Russia. At the site of Sungir, a sixty-year-old male and two young individuals were found adorned with more than 3,000 ivory beads. They also wore carved pendants, bracelets, and shell necklaces. At another site found in Sungir, two children were buried head to head with two straightened mammoth tusks stretched over them. They two were adorned with shell and ivory objects.

So what do these burials tell us about the Cro-Magnons? First it indicates the belief that grave goods were thought to be useful to the decreased in the future. Second, it suggests that the amount of personal adornment paralleled to an individual’s social status. Finally it suggests decoration and art were normal components of their daily lives and not just rituals.

With the socioeconomic status of the Cro-Magnons on a rise there was immense room for their important accomplishments. The creation of a lunar calendar seemed to be a fruitful accomplishment for their hunting season. With the new calendar the Cro-Magnons were able to keep track of the seasonal movements of the game that they hunted. They also created the first methods of refrigeration. In order to have sufficient amounts of meat for the winter, the Cro-Magnons dug holes in the permafrost and used them as natural freezers.

The Cro-Magnons also began to use fire in more sophisticated ways. For example, in their homes they used lamps, hot stones were used to heat water in skin lined pits, and kilns were used for clay baking. Gradually they began to domesticate animals for breeding and for farming purposes.

The Cro-Magnons left many artifacts from their lifestyle for archeologists to study but none seem to be as impressionable as their cave art. The walls and the ceilings of their caves were painted with paints made of manganese and iron oxide. Many of the paintings focused on hunters and animals. Stick figures were drawn for people but the animals were well drawn and filled with natural colors. The walls of some caves were filled with both threatening and non-threatening animals.

So why were these paintings so important? It is believed that cave paintings gave Cro-Magnons a sense of power over the animals. They also could have had religious values to those that drew them a matter of social consciousness could be expressed including their needs, values, and fears.

One of the most unique ways that Cro-Magnons projected their artistic ability was through oral painting. Instead of using brushes pigments were dissolved in saliva and spit on the wall. It is not known why this was done but maybe it allowed them to become one with the animal being painted.

The era of the Cro-Magnons was remarkable for its cultural diversity and the modernization of life it displayed. These early European humans were not at all brutes like many cartoons make them out to be. In fact, there is an abundant correlation in the similarities to present day humans. It just shows that Cro-Magnons were ahead of their time by showing signs of thinking and planning for the future.


Creation Denied. dabz_2/crea.html, February 8, 1999.

Cro-Magnon. http://, January 28, 1999.

Cro-Magnon Man. http://, January 28,1999.

Tattersall, Ian. From Becoming Human : Evolution and Human Uniqueness. http://, January 28, 1999.

Human Evolution: THE EVOLUTION OF HOMINIDAE: Homo sapiens: CRO-MAGNONS: The culture of the Cro-Magnons.: Hunting techniques. Britannica Online.

Human Evolution: THE EVOLUTION OF HOMINIDAE: Homo sapiens: CRO-MAGNONS: The culture of the Cro-Magnons.: Hunting techniques. Britannica Online.

Pre-Historic Man., January 28, 19

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