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Early Man

Various theories are advanced about the origin of man. In this session we will look at some of these theories that explain where man came from. This picture from the museum of Kenya show the various phases of man's development.

Stages of mans development

The video clip shows the various stages of evolution

The video clip shows the various stages of evolution

Origin of Man

Human beings are different from animals because they;

1. are able to think and reason

2. are able to communicate

3. make tool and weapons

4. have cultures and traditions

5. are moral beings

6. are spiritual beings

7. invent and discover things

This makes human beings unique. Historians are therefore interested in understanding the origin and development of human beings. In this lesson we are going to learn about the various theories of origin of man.



Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

1. explain the religious view on the origin of man

2. explain the traditional view on the origin of man

3. explain the evolution theory on the origin of man



 

THEORIES ON THE ORIGIN OF MAN

There are three main theories which explain the origin of man

1. creation theory

Gods creation

 


2. traditional / mythical theory

An illustration of mythical believe on origin of Maasai


3. evolution theory 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. traditional / mythical theory

An illustration of mythical believe on origin of Maasai

3. evolution theory 

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FAMILY TREE

Before we begin, lets try and trace our origin by trying out the following exercise

Use the tree provided to trace your family origin back to your great great grandparents on either your father or mothers side.

Start with the roots to represent your great great grandparents and move up the top to you and your siblings.

Family Tree

Before we begin, lets trace our origin by trying out the following exercise.

  • Draw a tree and trace your family origin back to your great great grandparents on either your father or mothers side.
  • Start with the roots to represent your great great grandparents, stem to represent your grandparents, branches to represent your parents, uncles and aunts. The fruits represent you and your siblings, as well as your cousins from your aunts and uncles you have identified.

Creation Theory

According to this theory, God created everything in the universe. It also states that God created man in His own image and put him to control the rest of the creation. It asserts that humans, as well as the rest of the natural world, were created by one or more supernatural beings or gods.

animation on creation theory

Mythical and Traditional Theory

Traditional theories differ from one community to another. Each community has its own myth, explaining their origin. They all believed that they were created by a supernatural being for a special purpose. Some of the common traditional theories include that of the Luo. The luo myth of creation states that their ancestor Ramogi Ajwang was created by God (Nyasaye) and placed at Ramogi Hills.

Animation depicting the Luo myth of origin

Agikuyu myth states that their Ngai created the first man called Gikuyu and provided him with a wife, Mumbi, and gave them land at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga. Gikuyu and Mumbi became the ancestors of the Kikuyu community.

Gikuyu, Mumbi and their 9 daughters

The ancient Egyptians believed that man was created by god who governed with the help of other gods, whose earthly representative was the Pharaoh.

image of pharaoh

MYTHICAL AND TRADITIONAL THEORY

Traditional theories differ from one community to another. Each community has its own myth, explaining their origin. They all believed that they were created by a supernatural being for a special purpose. Some of the common traditional theories include that of the Agikuyu which states that their Ngai created the first man called Gikuyu and provided him with a wife, Mumbi, and gave them land at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga. Gikuyu and Mumbi became the ancestors of the Kikuyu community

Gikuyu, Mumbi and their 9 daughters


The Luos myth of creation states that they were created by God (Nyasaye), and placed at Ramogi hills. This become the ancestors of the Luo people


Ramogi believed to be ancestor of the Luo

The ancient Egyptians believed that man was created by god who governed with the help of other gods, whose earthly representative was the Pharaoh.

image of pharaoh

The Luos myth of creation states that they were created by God (Nyasaye), and placed at Ramogi hills. This become the ancestors of the Luo people


Ramogi believed to be ancestor of the Luo

The ancient Egyptians believed that man was created by god who governed with the help of other gods, whose earthly representative was the Pharaoh.

image of pharaoh

The ancient Egyptians believed that man was created by god who governed with the help of other gods, whose earthly representative was the Pharaoh.

image of pharaoh

Evolution Theory

Another theory advanced on the origin of man is the evolution theory by a man called Charles Darwin.This theory states that man has been changing over time as a result of adaptation to changing environments. According to Charles Darwin, all living things evolved from simple living cells to complicated plants and animals we have today.

An illustration of Charles Darwin

Evolution Theory


We have said that man has been changing over time as a result of adaptation to changing environments. We have also said that all living things evolved from simple living cells to complicated plants and animals that there are today.
Evolution of humans takes place through:
1. Natural selection: the fittest organisms will always survive best in any given environment. The week organisms become extinct 2. Mutation: this is the means by which genetic structure changes to different forms and get transmitted to the next generation 3. Isolation and adaptation: this where species are separated by natural factors and subsequently they adapt to their new environments 4. Speciation: this is the gradual developmental changes of species from a lower state to a more superior state

LESSON OBJECTIVES

By the end of this lesson you should be able to:

1. Identify the stages of human evoluation before and during the Stone Age period.

2. Identify characteristics of species in each of the stages.

3. Locate in a map where the species have been found


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Stages of Evolution

Man is believed to be an evolving creature due to change in the environment. This came about through several stages as illustrated on the tree of evolution shown. You can also view the difference between man and chipanzee and even the difference in body organs in the next page.

Evolution tree

The following illustrations show the difference between man and the ape from whom he is believed to have descended.

Illustration of man and Chipanzee

Illustration on difference in internal organs between man and chipanzee


In this lesson we are going to discuss the various stages through which man evolved. Click on each of the primates on the 2nd bar for details.


The following illustrations show the difference between man and the ape from whom he is belived to have decended.

Illustration of man and Chipanzee

Illustration on difference in internal organs between man and chipanzee

In this lesson we are going to discuss the various stages through which man evolved.

Aegyptopithecus (Egyptian ape)

The earliest primate related to humans is known as Aegyptopithecus (Egyptian ape). Aegyptopithecus lived 35-33 million years ago and its fossils have been found in the Fayum Desert in Egypt. They ate fruits, weighed 4 kgs, had enclosed eye sockets and had 32 teeth.

Illustration of the Skull of Aegyptopithecus

Dryopithecus

The next primate related to humans is an ape known as Dryopithecus. Its fossils have been found in Rusinga Island in Lake victoria, Kenya. they have also been found in North Eastern Europe and South East Asia. Dryopithecus had Long teeth and walked on four limbs. they lived from 12 to 9 million years ago.

The illustration shows the hominid Dryopithecus.

Kenyapithecus

Kenyapithecus is another primate ape related to early humans. The remains have been found in Kericho, Fort Tenan, Samburu Hills and Ngorora in East Africa. Those that have been found in Asia are known as Ramapithecus. He lived 14 million years ago, walked on four limbs and had small canines.

Skull of Kenyapithecus

Remains of Kenyapithecus

Australopithecus

Australopithecus is a genus of extinct apes that are likely to be ancestral to human beings. They lived in Africa between 4 and 1 million years ago. At least seven species of australopithecines are now generally recognized. These are Australopithecus afarensis, A. africanus, A. bahrelghazali, A. anamensis, A. boisei, A. robustus, and A. aethiopicus. They were bipedal and had an upright posture. Their teeth were more humanlike than apelike, but their brains were small and not very different from those of living apes. They weighed between 36 and 66kgs and were 1.5 metres tall.

Remains of Australopithecus anamensis from the National Museums of Kenya.

Australopithecus

Australopithecus also known as the southern ape is believed to have existed some 4 million years ago in the Eastern and Southern Africa. It is known to be the earliest hominid closer to modern man. It is estimated to have weighed between 36-66kgs. He was about 1.5 metres tall and had powerful teeth.This hominid is said to have walked with 2 legs (biped) and walked upright. The picture is of Australopithecus anamensis from the national museums of Kenya.

Remains of Australopithecus

Skull of Australopithecus

Skull of Australopithecus

Homo Habilis

A type of extinct humans regarded as the earliest member of the human genus, Homo. The name Homo habilis means 'handy man'. They inhabited parts of sub-Saharan Africa about 2-1.5 million years ago. Remains were first discovered in 1959 at Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania; then at Koobi Fora in the Lake Turkana region of northern Kenya and at Sterkfontein in South Africa. They walked upright and were able to make and use crude tools refered to as the Oldowan tools. It is possible that homo habilis lived at the same time with the robust Australopithecines (A. robustus/paranthropus), and perhaps also early Homo ergaster.

Skull of Homo Habilis

Homo ergaster

Homo ergaster ('working man') lived throughout eastern and southern Africa between 1.9 to 1.4 million years ago. The equivalent of  Homo ergaster outside Africa is known as Homo erectus. The most complete Homo ergaster skeleton is the 1.6 million year old specimen known as  the 'Turkana Boy', discovered in 1984 at Lake Turkana, Kenya.

Skeleton of the Turkana boy

Homo ergaster may be distinguished from H. erectus by its thinner skull bones and more straight jawed face; It is estimated that H. ergaster stood at 1.9 m. tall. Remains have been found in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and South Africa. H. ergaster has been associated with use of advanced tools known as the Acheulean industry. The Acheulean comprised various tools such as hand-axes and cleavers. Charred animal bones in fossil deposits and traces of camps suggest that the species made creative use of fire.

Homo erectus is best presented by a specimen commonly referred to as the 'Turkana boy'. This species was found on the western part of Lake Turkana, a place called Nariokotome in Kenya. The movie clip provided shows the whole skeleton of the species obtained from the National Museums of Kenya.

Movie clip of the Turkana boy

Skeleton of the Turkana boy

Skull of the Turkana boy

The new discovery of Homo erectus by Dr Manthi of Museums of Kenya

Homo sapiens

Homo sapiens (intelligent or thinking man) refer to a species into which all modern human beings belong. The oldest known fossil remains of Homo sapiens date to between 120,000 and 400,000 years ago years ago.  Some sites where fossil remains of Homo sapiens have been found include Eliye Springs near Lake Turkana, Kanjera and Kanam in Kenya, Omo River Valley in Ethiopia and Ngaloba in Tanzania.

Skull of Homo sapien from Museun of Kenya

Homo sapiens is distinguished from earlier species of Homo by characteristics and habits such as bipedal stance, brain capacity averaging about 1,350 cc, high forehead, small teeth and jaw, defined chin, construction and use of tools. He is said to be the transition between Homo erectus and "you and me"


Skull of Homo Sapiens

Homo Sapiens sapiens

Homo sapien sapiens, also known as modern human beings had virtually occupied the entire globe by 13,000 years ago. Modern humans generally have more delicate skeletons.  Their skulls are more rounded and their brow ridges generally protrude much less. They also have relatively high foreheads and pointed chins. Scholars suggest that Homo sapien sapiens evolved from Homo sapiens primarily in Eastern Africa, and that they had spread to Asia by around 60,000 years ago, and to Europe by 46,000 years ago.

Skull of Homo Sapien Sapien


An animation of modern mans Skull

Early human cultural and economic activities

In this lesson we are going to study early mans culture. Culture is a peoples way of life. It includes peoples:

1. values

2. language

3. food

4.clothing

5.technology

6. customs

 

Below are examples of people's clothing and houses that represent their culture.

An example of a peoples clothing


An example of a peoples homestead



Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

1. describe the cultural and economic practices of early man during the stone age period

2. explain how the discovery of fire changed Man's life during the stone age period



An example of a peoples clothing

An example of a peoples homestead

Early human cultural and economic activities
Early human cultural and economic activities can be looked at under various Stone Age periods. The type of tools used at every period describe the various stages of human cultural development. Initially the tools were made of stone hence the term stone age. The early human cultural and economic practices have been divided into three Stone Age periods. These are:
1. The Early Stone Age
2. The Middle Stone Age
3. The Late Stone Age


Early Stone Age dates from approximately 2.5 million years ago until about 200,000 years ago. It includes the earliest record of human tool making and documents much of the evolutionary history of the genus Homo. The Early Stone Age has been divided into three main technological phases. These are the Pre-Oldowan, the Oldowan and the Acheulean.


 

Early Stone Age

Early Stone Age existed 2.5 million years ago. It was the longest of the stone ages.

Some of the earliest archaeological finds of early stone age

Early Stone Age

Early Stone Age existed 2.5 million years ago. It was the longest of the stone ages.

Some of the earliest archaeological finds of early stone age


Pre Oldowan culture

This is the earliest tool making technology. The tools used during this period were crude and not standardized. It is likely that early Homo was responsible for the Pre-Oldowan cultures. They have been found at sites such as Lokalelei in west Turkana in Kenya and at Koda Gona in Ethiopia

Pre oldowan tools

Pre Oldowan culture

The beginning of Early stone age period is known as Pre Oldowan culture. The tools used during this period were crude and not standardized. This period is characterized by Homo Rudolfensis. The tools they made may have been used to skin dead animals and scrapping animal hides, and also to crack nuts. They may also have been used to break animal bones to get marrow. The tools can best be described as haphazardly shaped for chopping, cutting and scrapping implements fashioned from pebbles.It is important to note that The Early Stone Age was the longest of the Stone Age periods.

Early stone age tools

Oldowan

The Oldowan comprised of haphazardly shaped chopping, cutting, and scraping implements made from pebbles. They are found in sites that date between 2.5 million years and 1.5 million years old. Oldowan tools were first found at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. The characteristic tool was the chopper. It is likely that Homo habilis was responsible for the Oldowan cultures.

Oldowan tools from Lokalalei West of Turkana.


Acheulean culture

The Acheulean technology was made and used by Homo ergaster in Africa between 1.8 million and 200,000 years ago, Homo erectus in Asia between 1.6 million to 30,000 years ago and early Neanderthals in Europe between 800,000 to 100,000 years ago. Common tools were Hand axes and cleavers. It was the dominant technology for the vast majority of human history, having lasted for more than one million years. The Acheulean culture also marks the beginning of language and use of fire.

Acheulean tools

Acheulean tools from Isenya and Olorgaisaile

The Middle Stone Age

The Middle Stone Age lasted between 400,000 and 50,000 years ago. This period is associated with the archaic Homo sapiens. The stage is characterized by Levallois (prepared platforms, pre shaped) tools.

Some of the middle stone age tools

The tools prepared through levallois technology are known as Mousterian tools. During this period man discovered better ways of shaping stone. They include levallois points, lanceolates (long stone pangas). Lanceolates were used for getting food from forests. Early Homo sapiens, who are associated with the Middle Stone Age cultures, lived in rock shelters and sometimes in caves. They may have hunted small and docile animals, for example rabbits.


Mousterian Culture

The tools prepared through levallois technology are known as Mousterian tools. They include levallois points, lanceolates (long stone panga). Lanceolates were used for getting food from forests. During this period man discovered better ways of shaping stone. This period is associated with the Homo sapiens (Rhodesian man). This man lived in rock shelters and sometimes in caves. They may have hunted small and docile animals, for example rabbits.

Mousterian tools.

Lupemban and the Sangoan tools.

These represent examples of some of the Middle Stone Age traditions in East Africa. The characteristic tools were a range of multi purposes heavy-duty picks and axes known as Lanceolates. They were used for


1. digging

2. cracking

3. scrapping

4. cutting


Their remains have been found at Kabwe (Broken Hill), in Zambia.

Sangoan
This Middle stone Age tradition was characterized by picks and axes made on bifacially flaked cores, the tranchet type of axe, hand axes of developed Acheulean form, massive side scrapers, and many elongated, bifacially flaked points that probably served as lances or spearheads. The Sangoan seems to represent a response to the environmental conditions of a tropical rain-forest.

Lupemban
Industry was derived from and replaced the Sangoan industry, found in forested areas of sub-Saharan Africa. The Lupemban industry is characterized by fairly small, well-shaped tools: chisels, adzes, planes (probably demonstrating intensive woodworking), sidescrapers, and blades. The most characteristic Lupemban tool is an elongated, lanceolate bifacial point often very finely and beautifully flaked


Archeological sites of middle stone age

Archaeological sites of Middle Stone Age include;

1. Muguruk near Kisumu

2. Ntuka in Narok

3. Lukenya Hill

4. Sango Bay in Lake Victoria

5. Lantian in China

6. Middle Awash in Ethiopia

7. Border cave in South Africa

 



The following are archeological sites of middle stone age


Late Stone Age

The 3rd stage is the late Stone Age which existed between 70,000 years and 6000 years ago. It is associated with Homo sapien sapiens. It is characterized by use of small stone tools known as Microlithic technology. 

Picture of a bushman

Late Stone Age people   were effective hunters with capability to kill both large and dangerous animals. They made arrows heads that made hunting easy. Other important characteristics include use of bone as raw material for tools, use of material for body decorations and made painting and art.


Microlithic period

This late stone age is associated with tool technology called microlithic which were small, more refined and efficient. These were mainly pebbles hafted on wooden handles. They used wood and stone as materials for making tools.

some of the stone tools used by homo sapiens in the late stone age.

The Homo sapiens associated with this age were effective hunters (killed both large and dangerous animals).They made arrows that made hunting easy. Hafting (putting handle to a tool) is a major characteristic of the Late stone age. They were abstract in thought (could think beyond immediate needs and plan future activities). Their other characteristics were that they;

1.used bone as raw material for making tools

2.made the fashioning harpoon, an important fishing tool made of bone

3.made necklaces for decoration using beads from ostrich egg shells

4.applied ochre on themselves as body decoration

5.may have roasted meat products

6.made paintings and art on rock faces

 

some of the stone tools used by homo sapiens in the late stone age.

Archaeological sites

Archaeological sites associated with Late stone Age are:

1. Lukenya hill

2. Malewa in Naivasha

3. Kariandusi in Elementaita

4. Ntumot in Narok

5. Nasera in Tanzania

6. Mumba in Tanzania

7.Enkampune ya Muto in Mau

New Stone Age

New Stone Age, also known as the Neolithic, is technologically a continuation of the Late Stone Age, but with a component of the practice of Agriculture. It began around 9000 years ago in Eastern Africa and around 11,000 years ago in the Middle East and the Nile Valley.

Man ploughing land


It is during the Neolithic period that many food crops and animals were domesticated.Some of the characteristics tools associated with the Neolithic include pottery, grinding stones and stone bowls. Neolithic people developed religious beliefs, had improved shelter and may have worn skin clothing. The first formal systems of government and civilizations began during the Neolithic and started to show in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Meroe in Sudan


Life during this period

The people during this period wore skin clothing and they had improved shelter.They also made pots, grinding stones and stone bowls. They developed religious beliefs and systems of government, for example in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Meroe in Sudan.

Blended pictures depicting the culture in the new stone age

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