Early Migrations


    The Migrations and Diverse Cultures of Early Humans


Hominids and early humans migrated to distant lands in order to pursue their finding of food. Some migrated from Africa to parts of Eurasia, while others from Australia to the Americas. As hominids learned to hunt more efficiently and provide better means for survival, their population increased, causing a need for more food. This led to a migration and pursuing of wildlife in other regions that would fill the void and feed their people.

Population increase was a major reason for the lack of food and need to replenish it from other areas.  Not only were hominids learning new ways to stay warmer and retrieve meat from hunt, but they were also passing these techniques onto others (Judge,5).  As the population of different groups increased, so did the competition for food. This led hominids to search new and untouched lands, hoping to find wildlife.

Another major reason for the migrations was climate change. As temperatures became colder and more difficult to withstand, hominids often moved to other, warmer regions. The wildlife that they were hunting sometimes migrated as well,  and the hominids would follow the herds of wild animals into these new lands.

One such example of how climate change led to further migration of early humans comes at the end of the last Ice Age in 12,000 B.C.E.  There was a land bridge that connected Siberia to Alaska and therefore connected the continent of Asia to the Americas. During the Ice Ages, this land bridge was hidden by glacial ice and so hominids in Asia remained there “exhausting the resources” in that region (Judge, 4). By the end of the last Ice Age, this glacial ice melted and the land bridge suddenly became visible to the people in Asia. This provided them with a way of reaching the Americas and so they migrated to the new land in search of more food.

As different groups of hominids began to spread out among new and distant lands, they began to develop unique cultures, vastly different from those of hominids in other areas. These cultures included “combinations of customs, beliefs, and practices, such as languages, arts, rituals, and technologies” (Judge,7). The main reason for the wide range of differences in these cultural aspects was the varying conditions of the lands that the hominids were occupying.

With different land came different climate conditions. Those who lived in warmer climates naturally wore lightweight clothes. What these people used for building their homes also depended on the conditions of the land around them. If there were trees in the area, for example, they made homes out of branches and logs. If the region was mountainous, then the people lived in caves (Judge,8). In these ways, where a group of hominids lived often determined the ways of their culture.

While certain physical attributes of culture such as clothing and tools are easier to verify, based on the findings of artifacts, there are other aspects of early hominid culture that I consider to be more subject to debate. One such aspect is religion. It is uncertain whether hominids and even Neanderthals had any sense of religion. Many believe that there is evidence to show that these early people did have an idea of an afterlife based on the way they buried their deceased. Those who believe this, claim that since some of the remains were found buried with tools, it is evidence that those who buried them thought they might need to use the tools with where the soul was going in the afterlife.

This does not seem like enough evidence to me, to support the idea that Neanderthals believed in an afterlife, but only that they might have believed in such things.  The burial of the tools with the bodies could have been for other reasons and is open to argument. Perhaps out of tribute or respect the Neanderthals buried the dead with their most frequently used tools.

Despite arguments about religion, hominids and Neanderthals did develop unique cultures in other ways, such as clothing and the manners and material that they used to build their homes. These diversifications among cultures were directly related to the different land and climate conditions where they lived. The hominids migrated mostly for food, but once they started spreading out, moving further and further away from each other, they developed their own unique cultures and ways of life.


Bibliography

1.Judge, Edward H., 2009, Connections, A World History, Volume One, to 1650

Vango Books, Pearson Education Inc, New Jersey