Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Saturday, March 4, 2023

In the Days Before Genesis - Part 2, by R.E. Slater

Series Posts
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In the Days Before Genesis
Part 2

from the Pleistocene Era of the Stone Age
to the Neolithic Age of Mesopotamia

by R.E. Slater

As of yesterday I thought I was done with this week's series on early human (homo sapien: cro-magnon man) development from man's earliest beginning through to the Old Stone Age period (known as the Pleistocene Era).

This era would conclude upon the beginning of man's earliest civilizations around the world as humans travelled from continent to continent. All previous charts and timelines may be found on posts 1 and 3 of my prior discussions as well as today's newest additions.

Because of my re-orientation towards accepting the evolutionary development of man it has required of me and my Christian faith to rethink how I must learn to re-read the Hebrew and Greek Christian Scriptures in-context to the larger histories of the world. Which means saying such things as the following:


To think of the pages of Genesis as beginning their "bible-like" narratives around 2400 BCE where a general re-assembly of (i) God stories and the (ii) early creation-origin stories took place across ancient North African and Semitic cultures generally from the time periods of 12,000 BCE (North African/Egyptian sources) to 5,000 BCE (Sumerian sources) to 2,400 BCE (Northern Bablyonian sources) where human civilizations were forming earliest in world history.

All of which impacted the nascent tribal clans of ancient Hebrew cultures forming in the Levant (the eastern Mediterranean coastal areas) after 2,400 BCE to be formerly federated as a kingdom around 1,000 BCE:

Wikipedia - The Levant (/ləˈvænt/) is an approximate historical geographical term referring to a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. In its narrowest sense, which is in use today in archaeology and other cultural contexts, it is equivalent to a stretch of land bordering the Mediterranean in southwestern Asia, i.e. the historical region of Syria ("Greater Syria"), which includes present-day Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and most of Turkey southwest of the middle Euphrates.
Its overwhelming characteristic is that it represents the land bridge between Africa and Eurasia. In its widest historical sense, the Levant included all of the Eastern Mediterranean with its islands; that is, it included all of the countries along the Eastern Mediterranean shores, extending from Greece to Cyrenaica in eastern Libya.

That all preceding creation-origin stories of the Old Stone Age in Mesopotamia have by now been infinitely redacted, revised and lost within the hoary histories of hunter-gather clans and tribes before being gathered into the nascent Semitic religions and much later codified into stone in the Late Mesopotamian cultures near-and-around 2,400 BCE as the varied dialects of the Semitic language were developing.

From these prototypical religious collections of God, man, and Earth was birthed Israel's own unique creation story gathered from the continual revisioning of who God was and is. Generally, the animistic and polytheistic ideas of early North African and Semitic religions gave way in Hebraic belief to one Creator-God Redeemer which provided a profound impact upon world religions thereafter.


Let's then call this period of human civilization as God's continuing effort by supernatural and natural revelation of God's Self as a redefining collective of Animistic gods, or Many gods, to one God based upon the socio-religious evolution of animism and polytheism towards monotheism depicting a God of Love, Care, Presence, and Power. As versus an assortment of mystical objects and gods with varying qualities of wrath and judgment, antipathy, or personal demands upon mankind. Gods which later Greek and Roman cultures developed to a high degree of personalization - as did world religions in general as humanity spread out in its evolutionary migrations criss-crossing the Continents of the World.

Consequently, ancient Near Eastern religious cultures were continually revising their own oral beliefs of God's personage based upon their own experiences and observations across the climes and eras of the Paleolithic Age. A field of study known as the socio-religious evolution of human culture.

And as this occurred we may expect similar accompanying revisionary religious ideations of God and creation-origin stories of Cro-Magnon man across the Late Neolithic Stone Ages of Eurasia. Those remaining religious lores and legends which had survived these eras having lately merged yet again in their latest perturbations across the Old Sumer, Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian kingdoms which were nearest in time and geography to the religious revisionism of ancient Israel's (sic, Canaanite) much later developing religious narratives being orally passed along and adapted to it's own personal narratives.

Conveniently then, the Late Babylonian creation stories are the nearest in reach to Israel's earliest tribal accretions in its proto-Genesis accounts of it's generational legends from the prototypical first man "Adam" to its hoary faith-father idealised in the figure of Abraham, occurring post-2,400 BCE.

By now, any remaining oral legends of God and creation from the New Stone Age era have been lost through the ravages of time and only dimly hinted at in any remaining archaeological records of earth and stone.


Moreover, though a moot point, as a Christian theologian, it's ok to describe dates as BCE/CE rather than BC/AD (Before the Common Era as vs Before Christ; or, the Common Era as vs After Christ / anno Domini) as a matter of scholastic preference.

As a Christian historian I may use the non-Christian world's designations of time and history and not worry about losing God in the transaction.

But as a Christian theologian my view of the world will always revolve around the Incarnational revelation of God in Christ(Messiah)-Jesus as the Midpoint of Salvific History.


For today's modern Christian this usually means we may only have a casual familiarity with the late Mesopotamian civilizations but very little, if not any, knowledge or familiarity with earlier ancient civilizations and cultural developments before 5000 BCE.

Hence my discourses in these posts speaking to Stone Age humanity's derivative evolution genetically, geographically, climatically, and culturally; and how our limited archaeological readings have prejudiced our beliefs of God when only starting with the book of Genesis having neglected to understand the evolutionary development of Paleolithic and Neolithic human cultures.


1 - The Adam and Eve Creation Story is but one of many creation stories of humanity. In mere evolutionary terms this creation story did not happen - but in theological terms it makes for a nice religious segue to speaking of God as the Creator-Redeemer of heaven and earth when conveniently bypassing 100,000 years of human evolutionary development.

2 - The stories of human development such as found in the tells of Jericho, the fabled Tower of Babel, the (ten?) generations from mythic Adam to legendary Abraham, or of the polytheistic and animistic religious significance of geographies such as mounts, streams, pools, wells, religious cairns built of wood or stone or both - all find significance from the earlier histories of the Semitic cultures such as the Akkadian or Babylonian peoples of Mesopotamia or from the religious histories of Egyptian North Africa itself.

3 - Further, always bear in mind the significance of the geographic area bound by North Africa to  the south, Upper Turkey to the north, and the Mesopotamian area to the east, as bearing the earliest evolutionary development of the first modernizing peoples of the earth as they spread out from North Central Africa up into the Levant and across the Continents.
The Semitic language family in modern times consists of dozens of distinct languages and modern day dialects, but the major Semitic languages are Arabic, Amharic (spoken in Ethiopia), Tigrinya (spoken in Ethiopia and Eritrea), Hebrew, Tigre (spoken in Sudan), Aramaic (spoken in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Iraq and Iran) and Maltese. 
4 - The importance of Mesopotamian culture upon the biblical narratives should never be discounted:
"The myths [of the ancient cultures of Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria], are intertwined throughout history due to close proximity [with one another forming] a wide spectrum of mythological creatures.

"The area has all the mystical hues of a multifaceted culture left with the markings of ingenious inhabitants who [flourished] within the fertile crescent of life. Also known as the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia spurred the growth of multiple historic empires.

"Ancient Mesopotamia holds significance due to the number of civilizations that were cultivated and destroyed within the area. The manifestation of Mesopotamia’s rich history began with the rise of the Akkadian Empire in 2350 BC under the rule of Sargon. During this era, the Akkadian language emerged with literary finesse in the form of an aesthetically pleasing script, fashioned after wedge-shaped cuneiform.

"Ancient Sumer is often considered to be Mesopotamia’s first civilization; a settlement in which the development of villages and city-states originated and artistic expression in the form of pottery flourished.

"Another major Mesopotamian Empire was that of Babylonia, lasting from 18th to 6th century BC in which the Babylonians used highly skilled thought processes to construct irrigation systems, an advanced legal system and broaden the knowledge of pharmacology." - Ancient Mesopotamia

R.E. Slater
March 4, 2023

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For Further Reference

List of Creation Myths

What Is a Creation Myth?

Creation Accounts and Ancient Near Eastern Religions
The authors here provide reasons for the uniqueness of the biblical account as versus my own view of the accretion of the biblical account gathered from nearby cultures wherein it is then made unique based upon Israel's experience of God. In my estimation it would be highly unusual to not be influenced by regional lores and legends. - re slater
Ancient Mesopotamia: The Land Between Two Rivers

EuroAsian Settlements

of the Late Neolithic Stone Age

Map of the spread of farming into Europe up to about 3800 BC  |  map link

Mesolithic tribes and the origins of agriculture in the Near East (9000-7000 BCE)
 map link

This link here provides migration and settlement maps of the Neolithic and Chalcolithic EuroAsian cultures from 9500-1000 BCE:



The last Ice Age ended about 10,000 years ago. The climate on the Earth became warmer and the ice melted. Instead of migrating with the herds, people began to live in year round villages. Around the end of the Old Stone Age and the beginning the New Stone Age, women discovered that by saving the seeds from the fruits and plants that they had been gathering, they could now plant the seeds and have a steady and more reliable supply of food. This was the beginning of domestication. People also began to domesticate, or tame, wild animals such as oxen, llamas, sheep, goats, and many others. This was the beginning of systematic agriculture. Farming slowly replaced hunting and gathering as the main source for food.

The Neolithic Age or New Stone Age was from circa 8,000 B.C. to to about 4,000 B.C. It began at the end of the Old Stone Age. Cro-magnon man began to leave the old ways of hunting and gathering behind and began to develop year round villages and soon discovered agriculture as a way to provide for their needs. Farming civilizations first developed along major river valleys around the world. What questions do you have about the Neolithic Age?

The switch from hunting and gathering to farming is called the Agricultural Revolution. Once humans learned how to grow crops and domesticate animals, their lives became very different. There was a steady supply of food. The population, or the number of people who live in a place, grew tremendously. They began to live in settled communities. These changes were world wide  after humans  began to migrate from central Africa around 100,000 B.C. and began to populate Europe, Asia, Australia, and North and South America.

History of NeoLithic Farming

Typical Dates of Mesopotamian Civilizations | 5000-330 BCE


Wikipedia - The Paleolithic or Palaeolithic (/ˌpeɪl-, ˌpælioʊˈlɪθɪk/), also called the Old Stone Age (from Greek: παλαιός palaios, "old" and λίθος lithos, "stone"), is a period in human prehistory that is distinguished by the original development of stone tools, and which represents almost the entire period of human prehistoric technology. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools by hominins, c. 3.3 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene, c. 11,650 cal BP.
The Paleolithic Age in Europe preceded the Mesolithic Age, although the date of the transition varies geographically by several thousand years. During the Paleolithic Age, hominins grouped together in small societies such as bands and subsisted by gathering plants, fishing, and hunting or scavenging wild animals. The Paleolithic Age is characterized by the use of knapped stone tools, although at the time humans also used wood and bone tools. Other organic commodities were adapted for use as tools, including leather and vegetable fibers; however, due to rapid decomposition, these have not survived to any great degree.

About 50,000 years ago, a marked increase in the diversity of artifacts occurred. In Africa, bone artifacts and the first art appear in the archaeological record. The first evidence of human fishing is also noted, from artifacts in places such as Blombos cave in South Africa. Archaeologists classify artifacts of the last 50,000 years into many different categories, such as projectile points, engraving tools, Sharp knife blades, and drilling and piercing tools.

Humankind gradually evolved from early members of the genus Homo—such as Homo habilis, who used simple stone tools—into anatomically modern humans as well as behaviourally modern humans by the Upper Paleolithic. During the end of the Paleolithic Age, specifically the Middle or Upper Paleolithic Age, humans began to produce the earliest works of art and to engage in religious or spiritual behavior such as burial and ritual. Conditions during the Paleolithic Age went through a set of glacial and interglacial periods in which the climate periodically fluctuated between warm and cool temperatures. Archaeological and genetic data suggest that the source populations of Paleolithic humans survived in sparsely-wooded areas and dispersed through areas of high primary productivity while avoiding dense forest-cover.

By c. 50,000 – c. 40,000 BP, the first humans set foot in Australia. By c. 45,000 BP, humans lived at 61°N latitude in Europe. By c. 30,000 BP, Japan was reached, and by c. 27,000 BP humans were present in Siberia, above the Arctic Circle.[8] By the end of the Upper Paleolithic Age humans had crossed Beringia and expanded throughout the Americas.

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Homo Habilis

Homo habilis is the name given to an early species of human who lived about 2.5 million years ago in central Africa. Homo Habilis literally means handy man. Because of the tools he created. He was short, about 4 feet tall. He walked on two legs, and was very clever. He began the art of toolmaking. He made hand axes and blades from chipped stones. But before long he was creating hafted or handled tools or tools with handles.

What was life like during the Paleolithic Age
of Homo Sapien Man?

Historians call the early period of human history the Stone Age. They do this because it was the time when people used stone to make tools and weapons. The earliest part of this period was the Paleolithic (pay • lee • uh • LIH • thick) Age. In Greek, paleolithic means "old stone." Therefore, the Paleolithic Age is also called the Old Stone Age. The Paleolithic Age began about 2.5 million years ago and lasted until around 8000 b.c. ...Remember, that is about 4,500 years earlier than recorded time, which starts about 5,500 years ago.

Surviving in the Paleolithic Age

Try to imagine what life was like during the Paleolithic Age. Think about living in a time long before any roads, farms, or villages existed. Paleolithic people often moved around in search of food. They were nomads (NOH • mads), or people who regularly move from place to place to survive. They traveled in groups, or bands, of about 20 or 30 members.

Paleolithic people survived by hunting and gathering. The search for food was their main activity, and it was often difficult. They had to learn which animals to hunt and which plants to eat. Paleolithic people hunted buffalo, bison, wild goats, reindeer, and other animals, depending on where they lived. Along coastal areas, they fished. These early people also gathered wild nuts, berries, fruits, wild grains, and green plants.

Finding Food

Paleolithic men and women performed different tasks within the group. Men—not women—hunted large animals. They often had to search far from their camp. Men had to learn how animals behaved and how to hunt them. They had to develop tracking methods. At first, men used clubs or drove the animals off cliffs to kill them. Over time, however, Paleolithic people developed tools and weapons to help them hunt. The traps and spears they made increased their chances of killing their prey.

Women stayed close to the camp, which was often located near a stream or other body of water. They looked after the children and searched nearby woods and meadows for berries, nuts, and grains. Everyone worked to find food, because it was the key to the group's survival.

Some scientists believe that an equal relationship existed between Paleolithic men and women. It is likely that both made decisions that affected the band or group. Some evidence suggests that some men and women may have hunted in monogamous pairs. This means that a man and a woman worked together to find food for themselves and their children. Such groupings became the first families.

The Invention of Tools

Culture is the way of life for a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs. The methods Paleolithic people used to hunt and gather their food were part of their culture, as were the tools they used.

Technology - Tools and methods to perform tasks-were first used by Paleolithic people. Before this time, sticks, stones, and tree branches served as tools. Later, people made devices from a hard stone called flint. Have you ever imagined how difficult it would be to prepare or eat food without a cutting tool? Paleolithic people learned that by hitting flint with another hard stone, the flint would flake into pieces. These pieces had very sharp edges that could be used for cutting. Hand axes, for example, were large pieces of flint tied to wooden poles. Flint technology was a major breakthrough for early peoples.

Over time, early people made better, more complex tools. Spears and bows and arrows made killing large animals easier. Harpoons, or spears with sharp points, and fishhooks increased the number of fish caught. Early humans used sharp-edged tools to cut up plants and dig roots. They used scraping tools to clean animal hides, which they used for clothing and shelter.

By the end of the Paleolithic Age, people were making smaller and sharper tools. They crafted needles from animal bones to make nets and baskets and to sew hides together for clothing. This technology had a far-reaching effect. It drove the development of more advanced farming tools and influenced where people settled.

Changing to Survive

Climate affected how Paleolithic people lived. Some early people lived in cold climates and made clothing from animal skins to stay warm. They sought protection in available natural shelters, such as caves and rock overhangs. Remember, there were no houses or apartment buildings as we know them in the Paleolithic Age. Gradually, humans learned to make their own shelters. People constructed tents and huts of animal skins, brush, and wood. In very cold climates, some people made shelters from ice and snow. In regions where wood was scarce, Paleolithic people used the large bones from dead woolly mammoths, or hairy elephant-like animals, to build frames for shelters. They then covered the bones with animal hides.

People living in warmer climates, on the other hand, needed little clothing or shelter. For the purposes of safety and comfort, however, many lived in caves and huts. These shelters provided protection against attacks by large animals.

Fire Sparks Changes

Life became less difficult for Paleolithic people once they discovered how to make fire. People learned that fire provided warmth in cold caves. It provided light when it was dark and could be used to scare away wild animals. Armed with spears, hunters could also use fire to chase animals from bushes to be killed. Eventually, people gathered around fires to share stories and to cook. Cooked food, they discovered, tasted better and was easier to chew and digest. In addition, meat that was smoked by fire did not have to be eaten right away and could be stored.

How did people learn to use fire? Archaeologists believe early humans produced fire by friction. They learned that by rubbing two pieces of wood together, the wood became heated and charred. When the wood became hot enough, it caught fire. Paleolithic people continued rubbing wood together, eventually developing drill-like wooden tools to start fires. They also discovered that a certain stone, iron pyrite, gave off sparks when struck against another rock. The sparks could then ignite dry grass or leaves-another way to start a fire.

Language and Art

Other advancements took place during the Paleolithic Age. One important advancement was the development of spoken language. Up until this time, early people communicated through sounds and physical gestures. Then, they began to develop language.

Ancient peoples started to express themselves in words for the same reasons we do. We use language to communicate information and emotions. Language makes it easier for us to work together and to pass on knowledge. We also use words to express our thoughts and feelings. The spoken language of early people was constantly growing and changing. New technology and more complicated experiences, for example, required new words.

Early people also expressed themselves through art. Some of this art can still be seen today, even though it is thousands of years old. For example, in 1879 a young girl named Maria de Sautuola wandered into a cave on her grandfather's farm near Altamira, Spain. She was startled by what she discovered on the walls of that cave:

"Maria entered the cave . . . and suddenly reappeared all excited, shouting 'Papa, mira, toros pintados! [Papa, look, painted bulls!]' Maria had discovered one of the most famous animal-art galleries in the world."
—from Hands: Prehistoric Visiting Cards? by August Gansser

About ten thousand years before Maria's visit, Paleolithic artists had painted mysterious signs, including what looked like a herd of animals-horses, boars, bison, and deer-on the cave's ceiling. In 1940, a cave with similar paintings to those in Spain was discovered near Lascaux (lah • SKOH) in southern France.

Paleolithic cave paintings have been found all around the world. Early artists crushed yellow, black, and red rocks and combined them with animal fat to make their paints. They used twigs and their fingertips to apply these paints to the rock walls. They later used brushes made from animal hair. Early people created scenes of lions, oxen, panthers, and other animals. Few humans, however, appear in these paintings.

Historians are not sure why early artists chose to make cave paintings. Early people may have thought that painting an animal would bring hunters good luck. Some scholars believe, however, that the paintings may have been created to record the group's history. They may have been created simply to be enjoyed.

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Neolithic Europe

Map of the spread of farming into Europe up to about 3800 BC
Female figure from Tumba MadžariNorth Macedonia

The European Neolithic is the period when Neolithic (New Stone Age) technology was present in Europe, roughly between 7000 BCE (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) and c.2000–1700 BCE (the beginning of the Bronze Age in Scandinavia). The Neolithic overlaps the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe as cultural changes moved from the southeast to northwest at about 1 km/year – this is called the Neolithic Expansion.[1]

The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place, its end marked by the introduction of bronze tools: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4,000 years (i.e. 7000 BCE–3000 BCE) while in parts of Northwest Europe it is just under 3,000 years (c. 4500 BCE–1700 BCE). In parts of Europe, notably the Balkans, the period after c. 5000 BC is known as the Chalcolithic (Copper Age), due to the invention of copper smelting and the prevalence of copper tools, weapons and other artefacts.

The spread of the Neolithic from the Near East Neolithic to Europe was first studied quantitatively in the 1970s, when a sufficient number of 14C age determinations for early Neolithic sites had become available.[2] Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza discovered a linear relationship between the age of an Early Neolithic site and its distance from the conventional source in the Near East (Jericho), thus demonstrating that the Neolithic spread at an average speed of about 1 km/yr.[2] More recent studies confirm these results and yield the speed of 0.6–1.3 km/yr at 95% confidence level.[2]

Basic cultural characteristics

An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools.

Regardless of specific chronology, many European Neolithic groups share basic characteristics, such as living in small-scale, family-based communities, subsisting on domesticated plants and animals supplemented with the collection of wild plant foods and with hunting, and producing hand-made pottery, that is, pottery made without the potter's wheel. Polished stone axes lie at the heart of the neolithic (new stone) culture, enabling forest clearance for agriculture and production of wood for dwellings, as well as fuel.[citation needed]

Ancient Greek Early and Middle Neolithic pottery 6500–5300 BCE. National Museum of Archaeology, Athens

There are also many differences, with some Neolithic communities in southeastern Europe living in heavily fortified settlements of 3,000–4,000 people (e.g., Sesklo in Greece) whereas Neolithic groups in Britain were small (possibly 50–100 people) and highly mobile cattle-herders.[original research?]

The details of the origin, chronology, social organization, subsistence practices and ideology of the peoples of Neolithic Europe are obtained from archaeology, and not historical records, since these people left none. Since the 1970s, population genetics has provided independent data on the population history of Neolithic Europe, including migration events and genetic relationships with peoples in South Asia.[original research?]

A further independent tool, linguistics, has contributed hypothetical reconstructions of early European languages and family trees with estimates of dating of splits, in particular theories on the relationship between speakers of Indo-European languages and Neolithic peoples. Some archaeologists believe that the expansion of Neolithic peoples from southwest Asia into Europe, marking the eclipse of Mesolithic culture, coincided with the introduction of Indo-European speakers,[3][page needed][4][page needed] whereas other archaeologists and many linguists believe the Indo-European languages were introduced from the Pontic-Caspian steppe during the succeeding Bronze Age.[5][page needed]


Neolithic expansion of Cardium pottery and Linear Pottery culture according to archaeology.
A stone used in Neolithic rituals, in Detmerode, Wolfsburg, Germany.

Archeologists trace the emergence of food-producing societies in the Levantine region of southwest Asia to the close of the last glacial period around 12,000 BCE, and these developed into a number of regionally distinctive cultures by the eighth millennium BCE. Remains of food-producing societies in the Aegean have been carbon-dated to around 6500 BCE at KnossosFranchthi Cave, and a number of mainland sites in Thessaly. Neolithic groups appear soon afterwards in the Balkans and south-central Europe. The Neolithic cultures of southeastern Europe (the Balkans and the Aegean) show some continuity with groups in southwest Asia and Anatolia (e.g., Çatalhöyük).

In 2018, an 8,000-year-old ceramic figurine portraying the head of the "Mother Goddess", was found near Uzunovo, Vidin Province in Bulgaria, which pushes back the Neolithic revolution to 7th millennium BCE.[6]

Current evidence suggests that Neolithic material culture was introduced to Europe via western Anatolia, and that similarities in cultures of North Africa and the Pontic steppes are due to diffusion out of Europe. All Neolithic sites in Europe contain ceramics,[original research?] and contain the plants and animals domesticated in Southwest Asia: einkornemmerbarleylentilspigsgoatssheep, and cattle. Genetic data suggest that no independent domestication of animals took place in Neolithic Europe, and that all domesticated animals were originally domesticated in Southwest Asia.[7] The only domesticate not from Southwest Asia was broomcorn millet, domesticated in East Asia.[8][citation needed] The earliest evidence of cheese-making dates to 5500 BCE in KuyaviaPoland.[9]

Archaeologists agreed for some time that the culture of the early Neolithic is relatively homogeneous, compared to the late Mesolithic. DNA studies tend to confirm this, indicating that agriculture was brought to Western Europe by the Aegean populations, that are known as 'the Aegean Neolithic farmers'. When these farmers arrived in Britain, DNA studies show that they did not seem to mix much with the earlier population of the Western Hunter-Gatherers. Instead, there was a substantial population replacement.[10][11]

The diffusion of these farmers across Europe, from the Aegean to Britain, took about 2,500 years (6500–4000 BCE). The Baltic region was penetrated a bit later, around 3500 BCE, and there was also a delay in settling the Pannonian plain. In general, colonization shows a "saltatory" pattern, as the Neolithic advanced from one patch of fertile alluvial soil to another, bypassing mountainous areas. Analysis of radiocarbon dates show clearly that Mesolithic and Neolithic populations lived side by side for as much as a millennium in many parts of Europe, especially in the Iberian peninsula and along the Atlantic coast.[12]

Investigation of the Neolithic skeletons found in the Talheim Death Pit suggests that prehistoric men from neighboring tribes were prepared to fight and kill each other in order to capture and secure women.[13] The mass grave at Talheim in southern Germany is one of the earliest known sites in the archaeological record that shows evidence of organised violence in Early Neolithic Europe, among various Linear Pottery culture tribes.[14]

In terms of overall size, some settlements of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture, such as Talianki (with a population of around 15,000) in western Ukraine, were as large as the city-states of Sumer in the Fertile Crescent, and these Eastern European settlements predate the Sumerian cities by more than half of a millennium.[15]

End of the Neolithic

With some exceptions, population levels rose rapidly at the beginning of the Neolithic until they reached the carrying capacity.[16] This was followed by a population crash of "enormous magnitude" after 5000 BCE, with levels remaining low during the next 1,500 years.[16]

Transition to the Copper age

Scheme of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BCE according to the widely held Kurgan hypothesis. These migrations are thought to have spread Yamnaya steppe pastoralist ancestry and Indo-European languages throughout large parts of Eurasia.[17]

Populations began to rise after 3500 BCE, with further dips and rises occurring between 3000 and 2500 BCE but varying in date between regions.[16] Around this time is the Neolithic decline, when populations collapsed across most of Europe, possibly caused by climatic conditions, plague, or mass migration. A study of twelve European regions found most experienced boom and bust patterns and suggested an "endogenous, not climatic cause".[18] Recent archaeological evidence suggests the possibility of plague causing this population collapse, as mass graves dating from around 2900 BCE were discovered containing fragments of Yersinia pestis genetic material consistent with pneumonic plague.[19]

The Chalcolithic Age in Europe started from about 3500 BC, followed soon after by the European Bronze Age. This also became a period of increased megalithic construction. From 3500 BCE, copper was being used in the Balkans and eastern and central Europe. Also, the domestication of the horse took place during that time, resulting in the increased mobility of cultures.

Nearing the close of the Neolithic, around 2500 BCE, large numbers of Eurasian steppe peoples migrated in Central and Eastern Europe.[20][21]



Simplified model for the demographic history of Europeans during the Neolithic period in the introduction of agriculture[22]

Genetic studies since the 2010s have identified the genetic contribution of Neolithic farmers to modern European populations, providing quantitative results relevant to the long-standing "replacement model" vs. "demic diffusion" dispute in archaeology.

The earlier population of Europe were the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, called the "Western Hunter-Gatherers" (WHG). Along with the Scandinavian Hunter-Gatherers (SHG) and Eastern Hunter-Gatherers (EHG), the WHGs constituted one of the three main genetic groups in the postglacial period of early Holocene Europe. Later, the Neolithic farmers expanded from the Aegean and Near East; in various studies, they are described as the Early European Farmers (EEF); Aegean Neolithic Farmers (ANF),[11] First European Farmers (FEF), or also as the Early Neolithic Farmers (ENF).

A seminal 2014 study first identified the contribution of three main components to modern European lineages (the third being "Ancient North Eurasians", associated with the later Indo-European expansion). The EEF component was identified based on the genome of a woman buried c. 7,000 years ago in a Linear Pottery culture grave in Stuttgart, Germany.[23]

This 2014 study found evidence for genetic mixing between WHG and EEF throughout Europe, with the largest contribution of EEF in Mediterranean Europe (especially in Sardinia, Sicily, Malta and among Ashkenazi Jews), and the largest contribution of WHG in Northern Europe and among Basque people.[24]

Nevertheless, when the Neolithic farmers arrived in Britain, DNA studies show that these two groups did not seem to mix much. Instead, there was a substantial population replacement.[10][11]

Since 2014, further studies have refined the picture of interbreeding between EEF and WHG. In a 2017 analysis of 180 ancient DNA datasets of the Chalcolithic and Neolithic periods from Hungary, Germany and Spain, evidence was found of a prolonged period of interbreeding. Admixture took place regionally, from local hunter-gatherer populations, so that populations from the three regions (Germany, Iberia and Hungary) were genetically distinguishable at all stages of the Neolithic period, with a gradually increasing ratio of WHG ancestry of farming populations over time. This suggests that after the initial expansion of early farmers, there were no further long-range migrations substantial enough to homogenize the farming population, and that farming and hunter-gatherer populations existed side by side for many centuries, with ongoing gradual admixture throughout the 5th to 4th millennia BCE (rather than a single admixture event on initial contact).[25] Admixture rates varied geographically; in the late Neolithic, WHG ancestry in farmers in Hungary was at around 10%, in Germany around 25% and in Iberia as high as 50%.[26]

During late Neolithic and early Bronze Age, the EEF-derived cultures of Europe were overwhelmed by successive invasions of Western Steppe Herders (WSHs) from the Pontic–Caspian steppe.[27] These invasions led to EEF paternal DNA lineages in Europe being almost entirely replaced with WSH paternal DNA (mainly R1b and R1a). EEF mtDNA however remained frequent, suggesting admixture between WSH males and EEF females.[28][29]


Neolithic cultures in Europe in ca. 4000–3500 BCE.

There is no direct evidence of the languages spoken in the Neolithic. Some proponents of paleolinguistics attempt to extend the methods of historical linguistics to the Stone Age, but this has little academic support. Criticising scenarios which envision for the Neolithic only a small number of language families spread over huge areas of Europe (as in modern times), Donald Ringe has argued on general principles of language geography (as concerns "tribal", pre-state societies), and the scant remains of (apparently indigenous) non-Indo-European languages attested in ancient inscriptions, that Neolithic Europe must have been a place of great linguistic diversity, with many language families with no recoverable linguistic links to each other, much like western North America prior to European colonisation.[30]

Discussion of hypothetical languages spoken in the European Neolithic is divided into two topics, Indo-European languages and "Pre-Indo-European" languages.

Early Indo-European languages are usually assumed to have reached Danubian (and maybe Central) Europe in the Chalcolithic or early Bronze Age, e.g. with the Corded Ware or Beaker cultures (see also Kurgan hypothesis for related discussions). The Anatolian hypothesis postulates arrival of Indo-European languages with the early Neolithic. Old European hydronymy is taken by Hans Krahe to be the oldest reflection of the early presence of Indo-European in Europe.

Theories of "Pre-Indo-European" languages in Europe are built on scant evidence. The Basque language is the best candidate for a descendant of such a language, but since Basque is a language isolate, there is no comparative evidence to build upon. Theo Vennemann nevertheless postulates a "Vasconic" family, which he supposes had co-existed with an "Atlantic" or "Semitidic" (i. e., para-Semitic) group. Another candidate is a Tyrrhenian family which would have given rise to Etruscan and Raetic in the Iron Age, and possibly also Aegean languages such as Minoan or Pelasgian in the Bronze Age.

In the north, a similar scenario to Indo-European is thought to have occurred with Uralic languages expanding in from the east. In particular, while the Sami languages of the indigenous Sami people belong in the Uralic family, they show considerable substrate influence, thought to represent one or more extinct original languages. The Sami are estimated to have adopted a Uralic language less than 2,500 years ago.[31] Some traces of indigenous languages of the Baltic area have been suspected in the Finnic languages as well, but these are much more modest. There are early loanwords from unidentified non-IE languages in other Uralic languages of Europe as well.[32]

Guus Kroonen brought up the so-called "Agricultural Substrate Hypothesis", based on the comparison of presumable Pre-Germanic and Pre-Greek substrate lexicon (especially agricultural terms without clear IE etymologies). Kroonen links that substrate to the gradual spread of agriculture in Neolithic Europe from Anatolia and the Balkans, and associates the Pre-Germanic agricultural substrate language with the Linear Pottery culture. The prefix *a- and the suffix *-it- are the most apparent linguistic markers by which a small group of "Agricultural" substrate words - i.e. *arwīt ("pea") or *gait ("goat") - can be isolated from the rest of the Proto-Germanic lexicon.[33] According to Aljoša Šorgo, there are at least 36 Proto-Germanic lexical items very likely originating from the "agricultural" substrate language (or a group of closely related languages). It is proposed by Šorgo that the Agricultural substrate was characterized by a four-vowel system of */æ/ */ɑ/ */i/ */u/, the presence of pre-nasalized stops, the absence of a semi-vowel */j/, a mobile stress accent, and reduction of unstressed vowels.[34]

List of cultures and sites

Diachronic map of Neolithic migrations c. 5000–4000 BC
Excavated dwellings at Skara Brae (Orkney, Scotland), Europe's most complete Neolithic village.


Klekkende Høj passage grave, Denmark, c. 3500-2800 BC

Some Neolithic cultures listed above are known for constructing megaliths. These occur primarily on the Atlantic coast of Europe, but there are also megaliths on western Mediterranean islands.

See also


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  2. Jump up to:a b c Original text published under Creative Commons license CC BY 4.0: Shukurov, Anvar; Sarson, Graeme R.; Gangal, Kavita (2014). "The Near-Eastern Roots of the Neolithic in South Asia"PLOS ONE9 (5): e95714. Bibcode:2014PLoSO...995714Gdoi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095714PMC 4012948PMID 24806472. CC BY icon.svg Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  6. ^ "Discovery of 8,000-year-old veiled Mother Goddess near Bulgaria's Vidin 'pushes back' Neolithic revolution in Europe"Archaeology in Bulgaria. 27 October 2018.
  7. ^ Bellwood 2004, pp. 68–9.
  8. ^ Bellwood 2004, pp. 74, 118.
  9. ^ Subbaraman 2012.
  10. Jump up to:a b Paul Rincon, Stonehenge: DNA reveals origin of builders. BBC News website, 16 April 2019
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Further reading

External links

 Media related to Neolithic Europe at Wikimedia Commons