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Paleolithic intertribal relations

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    Posted: 06 Dec 2011 at 06:56
During much of the Paleolithic, human ancestors spent much of the day on the move, looking for wild animals to hunt and plants to pick. Clans were generally very small, not exceeding 10 to 15 people, who spent all of the time together. 

Considering human density was very low at the time, what are the chances of one human clan meeting another? If they met once, what are the chances that they'd meet again?
I could imagine that intertribal meetings must have taken place, mostly for the purpose for mating, because 10-15 people is a group two small for breeding. 

Is there any source or evidence to suggest that clans would meet at a certain place at each time of the year to trade and to find mating partners?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Dec 2011 at 08:21
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

During much of the Paleolithic, human ancestors spent much of the day on the move, looking for wild animals to hunt and plants to pick. Clans were generally very small, not exceeding 10 to 15 people, who spent all of the time together. 

Considering human density was very low at the time, what are the chances of one human clan meeting another? If they met once, what are the chances that they'd meet again?
I could imagine that intertribal meetings must have taken place, mostly for the purpose for mating, because 10-15 people is a group two small for breeding. 

Is there any source or evidence to suggest that clans would meet at a certain place at each time of the year to trade and to find mating partners?
How sure can we be about such small numbers are correct? I think some evidence at least give an impression communites could be much larger. One example are the famous paintings in caves.
am I the only one that find it odd such small communities could be able to uphold such traditions and skills - at least not without intensive contact with other groups?
And I think we should be carefull about definite conclussions, based upon evidence from later peoples of hunter-gatherers. There must have been some reasons people remained so in those cases. Most often those reasons were the places they lived were uninviting for farming or pastoralism, and sometimes on the "margin" for human settlement. We should not expect the artic, desserts like Kalahari or Central Australia to be densely populated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Dec 2011 at 10:52
A model much used is that paleolithic small groups at certain times congregated in larger numbers for ceremonies, mating and social gatherings. Caves with paintings can be such places, but also open air sites on special locations. Also group size could probably vary a lot depending on local resources and the carrying capacity of a special area. Some environments as river estuaries could probably feed rather large populations, as also areas with an abundance of certain big game. During the paleolithic the conditions also shifted, in abundance of food, climate and other factors.
Several types of artifacts seems to indicate that many paleolithic groups had rather extensive nets of contacts where they could exchange ideas, people and goods. The distribution of for example venus figurines has been interprated as signs of such extensive contacts.


Edited by Carcharodon - 06 Dec 2011 at 12:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Dec 2011 at 21:53
What is certain is that during the Paleolithic, tribes living in areas very far apart often shared similar cultural traits in artefacts, tool-making skills and artistic expression, meaning that there must have been rather extensive contacts between clans. 
Given that the chances that running into another tribe at random were very slim, most probably there was some sort of agreement. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2011 at 02:50
A good model of paleolithic life are the tribal peoples of the jungles. There people never lived in groups of just 15 people, but in networks of thousand and even hundred of thousand peoples, spead for thousand of miles around. Look at the spread of languages in precolombian Americas, Africa or South East Asia, and you'll find out.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2011 at 12:59
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

What is certain is that during the Paleolithic, tribes living in areas very far apart often shared similar cultural traits in artefacts, tool-making skills and artistic expression, meaning that there must have been rather extensive contacts between clans. 
Given that the chances that running into another tribe at random were very slim, most probably there was some sort of agreement. 
I think the chances two neighbouring groups of homo sapiens will be aware of each other and meet is very high, perhaps except in very extreme cases. even palaolitic peoples would camp somewhere, make noise, fires and leave other signs of their pressence. Hunters would be mobile to find and kill game. Even people in as extreme environment and as sparsely populated as the high Arctic often have had long-distance contacts in later ages.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2011 at 13:52
Enough of this fantasizing. Unless one is addicted to Jane Auel, knowledge of human life at this time is confined to generalities. Muse as much as one wants about life from 500,000 to 6,000 BC all is but inference and supposition and not factual history. I other words, what evidence there is in the archaeological record serves as the foundation for speculation.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2011 at 15:28

If we can find enough well preserved skeletal material we can perhaps also draw some more conclusions from biochemical analyzes (DNA, proteins and similar) and by isotopic analyzes (for example analyzes of strontioum isotopes) concerning patterns of movement and intermixing in paleolithic times.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2011 at 15:31
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

A good model of paleolithic life are the tribal peoples of the jungles. There people never lived in groups of just 15 people, but in networks of thousand and even hundred of thousand peoples, spead for thousand of miles around. Look at the spread of languages in precolombian Americas, Africa or South East Asia, and you'll find out.
 
Not all tribal peoples in tropical forests lived like that, at least not in later times. In many areas agriculture was invented quite early and many languages were spread by agricultural peoples that could live in larger societies and groups.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2011 at 18:34
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Enough of this fantasizing. Unless one is addicted to Jane Auel, knowledge of human life at this time is confined to generalities. Muse as much as one wants about life from 500,000 to 6,000 BC all is but inference and supposition and not factual history. I other words, what evidence there is in the archaeological record serves as the foundation for speculation.
Then let us continue speculating, and perhaps find out something more, as time passes!
And why not  admit that for most of so-called "historical times", from where we have written material, there is not that much, and what is is mostly made from small segments of societies?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 02:44
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

 
Not all tribal peoples in tropical forests lived like that, at least not in later times.


Read the title. It says "Paleolithic" intertribal relation. Got it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 09:01
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

 
Not all tribal peoples in tropical forests lived like that, at least not in later times.


Read the title. It says "Paleolithic" intertribal relation. Got it?
 
As you formulated it, it did not sound as you meant the paleolithic. One must question if there really were enormous networks with hundreds of thousands people in the jungle (at least not in the South American jungles) in the paleolithic.


Edited by Carcharodon - 08 Dec 2011 at 09:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 10:17
Why the assumption than hunter-gatherer clans have to be limited to 12-15 people? Especially if you consider that much perhaps most of early human diet consisted of fish?
 
That overall densities were low doesn't mean they were evenly distributed, especially since the animals being hunted ere largely herd animals that necessarily clumped around water. In fact humanity itself is pretty clearly a pack species, so there's every reason to suppose their distribution 'in the wild' was like that of hyenas or baboons than gorillas or lions and tigers.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 10:25
Group size probably varied with the availability of resources. Also group size most probably varied between seasons when the people utilized different resources and were located at different places. Also fluctuations in climate must have affected group size and patterns of mobility.
 
Paleolithic life was rather multidimensional and paleolithic culture was indeed not monolithic or static.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 11:26
Originally posted by Carcharodon Carcharodon wrote:

 
As you formulated it, it did not sound as you meant the paleolithic. One must question if there really were enormous networks with hundreds of thousands people in the jungle (at least not in the South American jungles) in the paleolithic.


You are so ignorant, Carcha. The Amazon was never the mainland in South America. Most of the territory here is not jungle. And the Amazon, indeed, was a very low density place, but tribes formed networks.

In doubt, look at the spread of the Tupi-Guarani family of languages.

With respect to paleolithic culture, of course it wasn't monolitic, but at those times very few people know some form of agriculture, and with respect to progress, life was very slow paced at that time.


Edited by pinguin - 08 Dec 2011 at 11:28
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ramesh V.Naivaruni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 12:01
paleolithic age was spent by human life was close to the animal in terms of they behaviour pattern. Hunting ,when they are hungry and make merry.  Numbering to a pack of 12 or 15 is imaginary, and they did work within the territory and used different form of sound to communicate among their fellow members. Again, it is  possible the tribal living closer to the sea would have ventured into fishing as well.
There would have been the prevalance of Homo sexuality during that period and multiple sex partners.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 12:07
Originally posted by Ramesh V.Naivaruni Ramesh V.Naivaruni wrote:

paleolithic age was spent by human life was close to the animal in terms of they behaviour pattern. Hunting ,when they are hungry and make merry.  Numbering to a pack of 12 or 15 is imaginary, and they did work within the territory and used different form of sound to communicate among their fellow members. Again, it is  possible the tribal living closer to the sea would have ventured into fishing as well.
There would have been the prevalance of Homo sexuality during that period and multiple sex partners.


What! Confused

Closer to animals? It seems you don't now how criminals live in large cities. Otherwise, you wouldn't make that nonsense comment

What are you talking about? Different sounds as the birds? I assume you are speaking about Australopitecus or Homo Habilis, but I am afraid this thread is about regular Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

And in the paleolithic people had boads and new fishing Confused. Excuse me, that's well known.

Now, homosexuality and multi sex partners? LOL I suggest you pick some books on anthropology, and you'll find out yours generalizations are baloney.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 12:16
the size of 12-15 is an estimation based on the following considerations: that the tribe would be on the move constantly looking for game to hunt, and food couldn't be stored. 
A larger-sized group would be more difficult to feed itself with this lifestyle. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 14:33
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

You are so ignorant, Carcha. The Amazon was never the mainland in South America. Most of the territory here is not jungle. And the Amazon, indeed, was a very low density place, but tribes formed networks.
 
Well, it was you who started to talk about jungles. So I refererded to those parts that usually are called jungles, ie the tropical forests. And also do not conflate times and places. Many migrations and spreadings of languages in South America took place after the paleolithic.
 

Quote The Paleolithic (or Palæolithic) Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered (Modes I and II), and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory. It extends from the earliest known use of stone tools, probably by Hominins such as Australopithecines, 2.6 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene around 10,000 BP.

 

 


Edited by Carcharodon - 08 Dec 2011 at 14:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 14:37
A definition of "paleolitic" could be usefull. According to the one I know it is the older stone age, defined by some characteristics, including that people were hunterers - or gatherers, and not farmers (they were "neolithic"). The definition is of course something invented by later scholars, so it is them who had an idea of importance of wether materials like stone or metals were used (I have heard that in china it perhaps was not so much a "stone" age as an age of bamboo tools, since that material were better fit for tools.) And we should not ignore perhaps other materials could have been as important, like bone, wood, horn.
I may ask how we can say anything very definite about size of populations, and size of groups.
In that era not only territories of marginal use for human populations, but all the inhabitet world, was at the disposion for hunting, gathering etcetera.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 15:12

The Paleolithic are defined as you say as the old stone age and the people were hunter gatherers. In some parts of the one also adds a successive stage, the Mesolithic (middle stone age) that for example here in Scandinavia lasted from around 10 000 BC to around 4000 BC when the neolithic (new stone age) begins, the age of agriculture. In some places the neolithic is said to follow right after the paleolithic and in some places we also have the mesolithic. The mesolithic is a time when hunter gatherers adapted to very changing conditions that followed the end of the ice age and the beginning of the Holocene epoch which we still live in. In many places it meant that the hunt for large game were succeeded by a more broad spectrum economy.

Population size is ofcourse difficult to know, one can just infer it by analyzing ecological circumstances, carrying capacity, size of settlements and similar. Also mobility, kinship and other relationships can be inferred by different kind of analyzes as I mentioned before.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2011 at 17:47
At least we can say there is evidence of huts and tents, from that era - some of them in groups and not so small. Reading about them it is hard to escape the conclusion there must at least have been "semi-permanent" settlements, inhabitet for some time, though of course they can have been abandoned and reused. Some seems quite large and elaborate. I see little that supports any idea people lived so isolated they were not very well aware of neighbouring groups and even a greater area. Exchange of "precious items", and materials, like good stones for tools, though I am not sure how far back "flint export" can be dated.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2011 at 09:20
Yes, more extensive contacts and some kind of exchange of precious stones like obsidian seem to have existed earlier than hitherto believed. As an example I can mention a science show that recently wathed where they talked about exchange of obsidian in Kenya already more than 100 000 years ago.

Edited by Carcharodon - 09 Dec 2011 at 10:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2011 at 10:04
Hunterers may have moved a lot more around than farmers. As soon as humans had some kind of water transport, at least those living at the banks of lakes and navigable rivers should have good opportunities to travel some distances and of a lot of contact if they wished so. I am not very convinced the problem of finding other people ever were that big for majority of humanity.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2011 at 10:59

Yeah, if one study hunter gatherers from later times they often had some kind of areas where larger groups now and then congregated, for social and other reasons. And as you say some groups could probably move long distances. For example reindeer hunters in ice age Europe could follow the reindeer on seasonal migrations over quite long distances.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2011 at 18:14
Originally posted by calvo calvo wrote:

the size of 12-15 is an estimation based on the following considerations: that the tribe would be on the move constantly looking for game to hunt, and food couldn't be stored. 
A larger-sized group would be more difficult to feed itself with this lifestyle. 
Consider the Kwakiutl. Or whatever name they go under nowadays. Fishermen, while technically hunters, don't have to roam around in search of prey.
 
Consider the African plains with large herds of available prey everywhere you looked.
 
Consider baboons, who live in groups of about to 250. Why would humans not be the same?
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote fantasus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2011 at 19:33
Perhaps it may have negative consequences if humans in the 21th century accept the idea our fysical abilities are low, and we are in some way not very fit for moving around this planet, and our bodies perform only poorly. Not only in the stone ages, but untill less than 200 years ago, humanity had not much else than "muscle - power" to move - at least not on dry land.Probably for very a large part of the world population that meant practically their own two legs (horses, mules, camels, were not for weverybody everywhere)  - not very different from palaeolitic legs I suppose.
 Practically the whole history of "discoveries" or "conquest of the earth" is in effect the history of humans that either walked all the way themselves, or used animals, especially horses, donkeys, camels and dogs and sledges. Even the poles were basically reached that way (on a late exhibition I read that Amundsens exhibition very nearly excactly 100 years ago on their return made an average 39 km/day!) Even if we imagine a sparse population, were each group is on average 50 km distance from the next that is still not more than a walk of pwerhaps 2 to 4 days - if there is a desire to meet.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2011 at 16:55
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

.....Fishermen, while technically hunters, don't have to roam around in search of prey.

How much ocean fishing have you actually done in your life anyway?

Because the statement as quoted is absolute bollocks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2011 at 17:04
Agreed,
 
At least in the Americas, after crossing the Bering strait, the spread of man was following the Pacific coastal line, from Alaska to the Land of Fire. Those were tribes that fished at border of the ocean, picking clams and other seafood, and never venturing into sea. The amount of food those people could pick just along the coast was amazing.
Fishing in open oceans developed a lot later.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2011 at 19:11
Originally posted by whalebreath whalebreath wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

.....Fishermen, while technically hunters, don't have to roam around in search of prey.

How much ocean fishing have you actually done in your life anyway?

Because the statement as quoted is absolute bollocks.
What has ocean fishing got to do with it? At the time we're discussing humanity hadn't hit the oceans at all.
 
I recall I quoted the Kwakiutl, who have lived quite happily for thoousands of years in moderately large communities in the same place, yet developed an economy based on conspicuous waste in the form of the potlatch. Presumably you didn't follow-up the reference.
 
 If you live around lakes, rivers and inlets the fish come to you. Obviously you couldn't lie in bed all day, without going anywhere, but what I wrote was that you did not have to ROAM. Nor were you restricted to packs of 12-15 members.
 
I suppose atsome point population growth demanded migration, but as Pinguin points out that was very likely to follow the same water border.


Edited by gcle2003 - 10 Dec 2011 at 19:15
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