This edition: Premodern Humans
Around 780,000 years ago, a new species of Homo appears, perhaps descended from the hominins that lived in Spain and Italy between 900,000 and 800,000 years ago. This time period, called the Middle Pleistocene, is marked by alternations of glaciations and interglacials. The new species is called Homo heidelbergensis. Around 125,000 years ago, Homo heidelbergensis gives rise to the Neandertals. The Neandertals are the main focus of this lesson. You will see that the Neandertals were a robust people adapted for a cold, harsh environment. Their survival depended on more than just biology, however. A major factor to their survival was their stone tool culture, known as the Mousterian. In addition, the fact that they transported raw materials during their migrations to make future tools demonstrated forward planning. These people also practiced burial of the dead, in which grave goods were left with the deceased. Finally, the lesson explores the question of what happened to these ancient humans.