The Elements of Evolution (74) Prehistory


Culture is the most prominent nongenetic influence on human perception. Human infants always acquire the language, perceptions, thought patterns and behaviors appropriate to the culture in which they are reared, regardless of who or where their biological parents may be. Culture, then, constitutes a set of collectively accepted parameters for gauging the nature of things, a perceptually shared reality, a world view. ~ American cultural anthropologist Carolyn Bloomer

Prehistory is the immensely long period of hominin history prior to written records. Along with their bones, hominins left artifacts. Their study comprises archeology.

Most hominid artifacts readily biodegrade over time, especially items made from plant matter. What remains are bits of stone, metal, and hard clay, from which to glean an understanding of early sociality and the rise of civilization.

An artifact is any manufactured object. When a bunch of artifacts are found which were plainly made at the same time by the same people, the lot is termed an industry.

Discovery of different contemporaneous industries by the same tribe receives the title of culture. Of course, the artifacts are merely indicative of culture, which is the way that people lived, organized their activities and themselves, as well as how they thought about what they were doing and the social world they lived in.

Early cultures are frequently named after the site where they were first recognized. This turns archeology in a cartographical hydra.