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Sunday, December 23, 2012
Essay on The Stages of Man's Cultural Development
Essay on The Stages of Man's Cultural Development
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines culture, in this context, as “the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.” So we can see here that it is a pattern of human beings practiced in certain situations or in everyday life. Culture as a pattern must have an origin for it to develop in the way it is known today. To know how humans have developed in terms of culture, we must look into our history and the cultural stages the human race has undergone.
The Paleolithic Stage, also known as the Old Stone Age, is divided into three parts: the Lower Paleolithic, Middle Paleolithic, and Upper Paleolithic. This stage is characterized by man leading a nomadic life meaning people have no permanent homes and they move from place to place depending on the food resources available at a particular time.
The Lower Paleolithic stage began its period approximately 300, 000 BC and ended at about 70, 000 BC. Men in this stage were nomadic and they used pebble tools, hence making this part known as the “Pebble” or “Chopper” Period. During this, pebbles or rocks were chipped on one end in order to create a cutting edge. In the latter part of this period hand axes, wherein both sides are chipped to a cutting edge or a point, were already used. This was also the period when man discovered and began to use fire.
The Middle Paleolithic stage was a time when man was still nomadic. This stage roughly began on 70, 000 BC and ended at 35, 000 BC. The tools created in this period were more precise and they had a greater variety in terms of implements and improvements. Men during this time were related to the Neanderthal man, however some evidences showed the discovery of the Carmel man who was taller than the one mentioned before and seemed to possess speech. This period also showed the development of beliefs related to the afterlife and respect for the dead as shown in some burial sites found.
The last part of this stage, the Upper Paleolithic Stage, began at 35, 000 BC and ended at about 12, 000 BC. Tools were well-made and other certain carvings came about. Jewelry and figurines were made out of ivory, bone, shell and other various materials. These carvings showed the beginning of a belief in a certain god or goddess signifying the start of a cult among men. Moreover, this period exhibited man’s capacity to built shelters which seemed to have teepee-like features.
The next cultural stage is the Mesolithic stage or Middle Stone age which began at about 12, 000 BC and ended at 10, 000 BC. This stage is characterized by the discovery of the micro-flint, which is basically made up of small triangle- or crescent-shaped flints. People in this period have uniform forms of art, weapon industry, burial customs, and even artifacts showing the development of some sort of community within individuals. This also marked the beginning of agriculture since tools like adzes, sickles and others have been discovered. Rock drawings also began in this time depicting forms of man and animals. Apart from these, sea travel also became evident in this period when certain evidences of a boat or a raft have been discovered by archaeologists.
The Neolithic stage, also known as the New Stone Age, began at about 10, 000 BC and ended at about 4, 500 BC. Great improvements in agriculture and shelters are evident in this stage. People were no longer nomadic since they learned how to cultivate the earth for food resources and they also built circular houses made of bricks and earth. People began to live the village life. This was also the period when concrete evidences of worship were found; specifically figurines of certain creatures made out of clay. Early shrines were built signifying the beginning of a certain cult. In the latter part of this period, pottery-making began and these objects were used either in trading or in the burial rituals, wherein food is stored showing a belief in the afterlife.
This stage began at approximately 2, 500 BC and ended at 800 BC. This was the time when communities began to develop into societies and tools made out of rock were replaced by those made out of metal. Rapid development and change characterized this period. Agriculture during this period was widespread as shown the in the cropmarks and soilmarks discovered by archaeologists. Funerals and burial were also widely practiced in this age. However, the determining characteristic of this period was the use of copper and tin were used in making tools and weapons. This was also the time when products were made from metals with various impurities; and also bronze was known as the hardest material available during this period. The Bronze age was the time when trade and technology dealing with the use of certain metals that created bronze, specifically copper and tin, were very rampant and helpful in the development of societies.
The Iron Age was a period in the cultural development of man which vaguely began when iron was used in smelting. This roughly began in 3, 000 BC and is still apparent in the present time. This age coincides with the Bronze age because iron was also considered as a valuable metal at that time but people had a difficult time using it because of its high melting point. It wasn’t until about 1, 200 BC when humans regarded iron as a better metal resource especially when copper, tin and bronze were becoming scarce from the world. Iron was then used with steel to make weapons and tools that were more durable than bronze, hence these materials replaced copper and tin. Great advancements in transportation such as ships and railroads mark this period in our cultural development.
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