Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Ice Age, 110,000 - 20,000 BC

It’s difficult to imagine living on a planet where the weather was so cold, that ice sheets covered much of North America, Europe, and Asia. Thankfully, the configuration of the continents did not permit the extension of the southern ice sheets too far north. In the higher elevations of the continents, great glaciers grew independent of the polar ice. So much of the planet's water was in the great sheets of ice that sea levels dropped. Thankfully, humans knew how to make fire.

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia map of the Ice. (There's no use trying to pop up these maps here. The blogs pages are too small to see the details.)

And here’s a map of the planet’s vegetation. While it is hard to read, here’s a few noticeable items:

  • There is no Black Sea
  • the Mediterranean is now two lakes; the Italian Peninsula is now an isthmus going all the way down to Africa
  • the Red Sea is now a small lake
  • land connects Siberia to Alaska
  • Australia includes Guinea and the Solomon Islands; and if it doesn’t connect to SE Asia, is sure comes close.

The descriptions of the kind of land are mostly bad; the few good colors can hardly be seen; the only one that seems decent is “Savannah”. Was this where most of the humans lived during this time?

During this age there were 3 species of humans:

  1. Homo Erectus had been around for 1.8 million years but died out around 70,000. They had survived previous ice ages; they didn’t survive this one.

  2. Neanderthals had been around for 350,000 years but when the great ice sheets disappeared, so did they.

  3. Modern Man started around 200,000 years ago. This ought to not be confused with Cro-Magnon Man which appeared 40,000 and died around 10,000. The Cro-Magnons were a subgroup of Modern Man.
This map shows where the three groups lived during the Ice Age. The most interesting feature in this is that the only one of the three groups that migrated was Modern Man.

About 50,000 Modern Man commenced an unprecedented level of cultural and technical achievement in a short period of time. They developed sophisticated hunting techniques (such as using trapping pits or driving animals off cliffs), made clothing out of hides, carefully buried their dead, and even painted their caves.

Neanderthals also had tools and fire but they did not innovate. As the Ice Age ended, the last communities of the Neanderthals died out in Gibralter. The future belonged to Modern Man.

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