The Beginnings of Culture Essay

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The Beginnings of Culture: Ritual, Music, and Art under the Ground The period in time known as the “prehistory” of the human race can best be described as a temporal void. It is a monstrous chasm out of which the occasional encrusted femur or gold pectoral is spit to tantalize anthropologists, archaeologists, and Darwinians ready to follow a revitalized path to new theories. Prehistory loosely stretches from about 7 million years ago when pre-human primates took up known residence in central Africa, to around 5,500 years ago when the world’s first civilizations began to appear. Along the way, the pre-human primates diverged and some became the actual ancestors of humans, of the genus Homo. Homo sapiens, the anatomically modern version of Homo and very close to “us,” appeared about 200,000 years ago. Even when “we” mated with the best specimens of each other to improve our chances of survival, it still took an inordinate amount of time for enough mutations to occur to give us the ability to not only communicate but to record our communication. It would be preposterous to assume that in this chasm of time nobody had the wherewithal to dance, sing, or get together for a celebration. Indeed, no end of writers has found it mindlessly easy to conceptualize wild, orgiastic revels by our hairy, heavy-browed predecessors. But the evidence has been in short supply. That is until a fascinating discovery in 2006. * * * The Woman in the Sky has appeared often since his last kill. Pulling three of his fingers together, the hunter knows he has seen her full body this many times, dancing radiantly across the frosty blackness, pushing aside the twinkling souls of dead kin that lie in her path. Many empty days and nights. Too long without proper food. Tonight, her body is almost full once again as she begins her journey, large and orange over the distant

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