Building on the foundation of the first article in this series, I will write a summary of the material culture, IE the items of clothing, weaponry, tools and household items of our European ancestors in the distant past before the historical age but after the arrival of agriculture around 7500BC which was brought here by invading Arabs called the Natufians.
|A Levantine man of Natufian descent. His ancestors
invaded Europe circa 8000BC, bringing industrialized
agriculture and ending hunter-gathering as a
way of life in all but a few places
As I outlined in the prior article but wish to make abundantly clear, this changed Europe for the worse. The agricultural revolution was the first major instance in known prehistory of race mixing on a major scale (again, I will debunk Out of Africa in some later posts, probably in a series solely on the Paleolithic Era). The Natufians damaged the European gene pool in a manner that lowered life expectancy, shrunk stature and begin to disintegrate the hunter gatherer communities that had persisted for hundreds of thousands of years. It is no surprise that during this time weapons were made for the very first time.
The only in-depth knowledge we could have of the attitudes and personal culture during this time is passed down in legend and I will cover this in further articles focused on this. The Hindu holy texts provide a great resource for learning about prehistoric Eurasia. It is of course no surprise that the evidence of the items our ancestors used in their daily lives is rather scant as most of it has either been swallowed by the soil and waits to be discovered or has eroded away over the millennia from this time, but I will attempt to create an overview of the jigsaw pieces we do have in regards to material culture in the hope of being able to reconstruct a good general picture of neolithic life.
The way of life was in actuality essentially the same as it was in ancient history, when our ways of life first came into writing. If one understands how people lived in the bronze and iron age learning about the Neolithic will not be anything too different.
Fashion and Wearables:
Clothing styles varied, but women typically wore longer garments than men, but this could vary vastly across different cultures and indeed climates. Parts of dresses from this time period have been discovered.
Fur was a common material for clothing but in actuality people also made cloth too. The oldest sewing needles in Europe are roughly 50’000 years old and were found in Siberia. The oldest piece of dyed clothing in Europe dates from the mid Neolithic (6500BC) and uses a technique known as Nålebinding. There is very little I can understand of Nålebinding as someone who has only a limited knowledge of textiles, but it was the most common form of sewing in this era.
|A reconstruction of Otzi the iceman’s shoes.
Otzi lived around 5000 years ago
We do know from very rare finds that clothes were sown and knitted from wool and flax just as they were in less ancient times. Fur was also commonly used but this would of course depend on the diverse climate within Europe, at the time several degrees colder on average than it is today.
Shoes, hats, trousers, socks and loincloths were worn though of course styles varied across cultures and probably also within tribes with each tribe having recognizable regalia such as jewelry, clothing and distinctive tattoos.
There was likely no concept of “fashion” in the way we perceive it today. IE styles or colors that fall out of use over short periods of time. Whilst there were cultures in which certain styles were more common, people didn’t dress as a fashion statement but wore practical clothing that suited their environment except for ceremonial use, which is probably worth an article of its own. If they wanted to impress, they would wear jewelry, have a nice house or hunt large animals for sport.
Ötzi the iceman, who died around 3000BC, had sophisticated equipment with metal weaponry made of copper. He wore leggings and a loincloth made of goat and sheep hide. He had a leather belt made of calfskin and a pouch which contained a selection of flint and bone tools.
|Otzi’s bear skin cap|
His shoes were comprised of dried grass padding, lime tree strings and stitched deer hide. He wore a fur cap made of bear skin that featured a chord which could be tied at the chin. Judging by the variety of material, Otzi was either a hunter or procured the hides and clothing via trade, which would go some way to demonstrating the sophistication of neolithic society. Those who have analysed Otzi’s shoes have suggested that they could only have been made by a skilled professional.
Jewelry and ornaments:
People wore necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings and was commonly worn Most of the jewelry that has survived is bone and shell but people took tremendous time and effort to make pendants out of precious stone. The pendants were normally in the shape of animals which had religious significance. A few items of gold jewelry have been found and are said to date from the Neolithic/early Bronze age era.
|Neolithic animal head amulet|
Jewelry served a very important religious purpose. Since jewelry was often hand-crafted by its wearer and carried with them at all times, it was always present in burial services and would be passed down from generation to generation.
As you will likely know, ornaments were also made, such as the Venus figurines. I intend to do an entire article on the Venus figurines in future but they were essentially a religious symbol.
Dyes made of plant extract were also used on the clothes in almost any colour one could wish for, here is a list of just a few:
The Woad Plant: Any shade of Blue could be made using the woad plant when boiled, depending on how many times you dip the fabric. Dipping once will get a baby blue whereas dipping 10 times gets a very dark navy blue that is almost black.
Iron Oxide extracted from clay: Dark red/orange colour
The Weld Plant: Yellow
Purple could also be made from sea snails but it was a rarity and luxury reserved only for those with status and the expertise to extract it. We know with certainty it was used from 2000BC but there is no reason to believe it was not used millennia earlier. The difficulty involved in producing purple dyes and its resulting rarity lead to the reputation of purple as a royal colour even to this day.
Green dyes could be made by blending blue with yellow but this didn’t work very well and wasn’t as often used.
Orange could likewise be made with red and blue yellow dyes or with some plants directly but most plants that naturally produced orange pigment are not European and would not have been used.
Weaponry and Metal: Debunking the “Scholars”:
When archaeologists make the claim that because there were no weapons prior to the Neolithic era, or at least no sophisticated ones, I would pose a counter argument that in a homogeneous society with no danger of invasion and no conflict why would there be need for weaponry to exist?
Supposed “scholars” claim that in the time just before Otzi metalwork was not used in Europe because evidence has not been found. Of course evidence has not been found, metals erode with time. I would love to see exact figures of how long exactly, but even metals cannot last for many thousands of years exposed to the elements, and ergo evidence of metallurgy will also be lost. Nearly all metals will corrode eventually, iron of course most quickly with copper and tin taking rather longer but eventually it all corrodes, especially with pressure and/or extreme environmental conditions. You’d be fortunate for an iron weapon to survive a few years exposed to the elements.
Bronze items from the prehistoric era are only found in countries in the middle east and in Africa not because Africans and Arabs were more advanced than us, but because the climate in these areas is much better at preserving metals, especially common ones like bronze because the climate is dryer. Bronze suffers from a corrosion known as bronze disease when exposed to chlorides but oxygen in water can also have an effect over long periods of time. To the right is an image of a Roman coin that has been effected by bronze disease:
This shows that even after only a couple of thousand years bronze items begin to deteriorate and after 4000 will probably have disappeared completely. I am highly skeptical of the mainstream archaeological view that metal work is something new to humanity considering we have been highly intelligent beings for hundreds of thousands of years. The only metals that don’t erode hardly at all are gold and silver but they are so rare that it is unlikely that archaeologists will find any weaponry or jewellery that is extremely old and made of these materials.
Military regalia was the same as the “bronze age” in that swords and shields were used but often shields were made of turtle shell, wood or hide. Strong armour could also be made from hides and thick leather.
There were also shaving razors made of flint which were very sharp and likely more effective than the shaving razors of today.
Houses were much the same in the Neolithic as they were in the “Bronze Age” and the “Iron Age” in that they varied with the culture but were simple, normally made from wattle and daub or from stone. They normally did not include windows and normally had thatch roofs. A common style in Celtic culture was the roundhouse, pictured to the side here.
From the look of it, this house employs a thatch roof with daub walls, which could be made from dried mud mixed with clay, though there are many different methods of making daub. Obviously, these houses could vary in size drastically and were sometimes very small and sometimes very large depending on the available resources, the free time available to construct it, the expertise and the amount of people that pitched in. The roundhouse pictured above is larger than the average and would have been fit for an important person in the tribe, such as an elder, or a decorated warrior or hunter. It may even have been fit for the King and Queen.
|A reconstruction of a long house|
These houses would be fairly well spaced out across a community, as there was no risk of overpopulation when eugenics was an essential part of the European worldview and as a result death rates were high, see the previous article for a brief summary of kingship, though there will be future ones too.
Another style was the longhouse; this style was used more commonly in Germany and Scandinavia. Its distinguishing feature is obvious.
It could be made using similar materials to a roundhouse but was simply just a cultural preference as far as I know. This article from Inhabitat proposes there are some practical benefits to using a round house structure, including thermodynamics. It is well worth a read:
|A reconstruction of a neolithic pile house|
It may, however have been more effective in colder climates to use a longhouse because it keeps in the heat better than a round house because some roundhouses have holes in the thatch for ventilation, which would cause a drought.
|The interior of a Germanic longhouse in the Neolithic|
The final major housing style we know of during the Neolithic was the pile house, which was built on stilts and would have been useful in coastal areas or in a fishing community. These have been found in large concentration around the Alps.
Pottery and Household Items:
Pots were made to cook with and there is a possibility that kitchen utensils (IE knives and forks) were used too. They were probably made of wood. Large quantities of Neolithic pottery still remain because pottery is not very biodegradable.