A startling archaeological discovery this summer changes our understanding of human history. While, up until now, scholars have largely held that man's first rituals were carried out over 40, 000 years ago in Europe, it now appears that they were wrong about both the time and place.
Associate Professor Sheila Coulson, from the University of Oslo, can now show that modern humans, Homo sapiens, have performed advanced rituals in Africa for 70,000 years. She has, in other words, discovered mankind's oldest known ritual.
The archaeologist made the surprising discovery while she was studying the origin of the Sanpeople. A group of the San live in the sparsely inhabited area of north-western Botswana known as Ngamiland.
Coulson made the discovery while searching for artifacts from the Middle Stone Age in the only hills present for hundreds of kilometers in any direction. This group of small peaks within the Kalahari Desert is known as the Tsodilo Hills and is famous for having the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world.
The Tsodilo Hills are still a sacred place for the San, who call them the "Mountains of the Gods" and the "Rock that Whispers".
The python is one of the San's most important animals. According to their creation myth, mankind descended from the python and the ancient, arid streambeds around the hills are said to have been created by the python as it circled the hills in its ceaseless search for water.
Sheila Coulson's find shows that people from the area had a specific ritual location associated with the python. The ritual was held in a little cave on the northern side of the Tsodilo Hills. The cave itself is so secluded and access to it is so difficult that it was not even discovered by archaeologists until the 1990s.
When Coulson entered the cave this summer with her three master's students, it struck them that the mysterious rock resembled the head of a huge python. On the six meter long by two meter tall rock, they found three-to-four hundred indentations that could only have been man-made.
"You could see the mouth and eyes of the snake. It looked like a real python. The play of sunlight over the indentations gave them the appearance of snake skin. At night, the firelight gave one the feeling that the snake was actually moving".
It was a major archaeological find five years ago that made it possible for Sheila Coulson to date the finds in this little cave in Botswana. Up until the turn of the century, archaeologists believed that human civilisation developed in Europe after our ancestors migrated from Africa. This theory was crushed by Archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood when he published his find of traces from a Middle Stone Age dwelling in the Blombos Cave in Southern Cape, South Africa.
Some still do.....
Study: First Europeans lived in Italy
ROME, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- A team of Italian scientists says it has determined the first Europeans lived in southern Italy and not Spain, as had been thought.
Researchers from universities in Rome, Turin, Florence and Ferrara say a collection of fossilized flint tools and other instruments found in the southeastern region of Puglia has been dated to about 1.7 million years ago -- predating the oldest Spanish finds by nearly 1 million years, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
The researchers say their discovery means paleontologists will have to redraw maps charting the path of ancient man out of Africa.
"This discovery reopens the debate on the origin of the population of the whole of Europe," said Carmelo Petronio of Rome's La Sapienza University. "It supports the theory that the first Europeans migrated westward across the Near East and not from northwestern Africa.
Once ritual becomes institionalized as a Theism which then maintains specialists; priests, it goes from being empowering spirituality of the community/commune to oppression. As I wrote here;