At the end of the nineteenth century, an important discovery was made in Germany. In the town of Neandertal (about 80 kilometres from the Dutch border) a fossil of an extinct human species was found. This extinct species of humans was called a Neanderthal. Thanks to this discovery, they had evidence for the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is an important theory for the history of man. According to this theory, the first human species lived in Africa six million years ago. From Africa, man has spread to Europe and the east. Also this theory says that the first human species descends from the monkey. Before the theory of evolution existed, it was believed that the Earth was created by one or more gods. There are still people who think this explanation is better than the theory of evolution. These people are called creationists.
Of course, many more fossils and other remains from the first period of earth's existence have been found. These discoveries allow scientists to tell how and when the first species of humans lived.
In 1989, when a lake dried up in Israel, a camp turned out to be 20,000 years old was found. The remains of this camp were so well preserved that they could get a lot of information out of it. The camp consisted of round huts and they found flint tools there. These flint tools were made by humans 20,000 years ago and used them in hunting or to prepare the food. Their lives were mainly focused on survival. To do this, they had to get enough food from nature every day. They did this through hunting, collecting fruits and nuts or by fishing. The culture they found here at the bottom of the lake, they called the Ohalo culture. The epoch in which they lived is called prehistoric times.
The hunters and collectors of The Ohalo culture lived and hunted in small groups. Each person, they were able to get food from an area of up to ten square kilometres. This means that if their area was 50 square kilometers in size, they hunted with a group of 5 people. When there was no more food in this area, they went to another area.
However, the people in Ohalo culture stayed in their camp all year round. At the place where they lived the soil was very fertile and grew many grains and other edible plants. Most other cultures in this day and age were nomads. They led a nomadic existence. This meant they did wander around. They often had a fixed camp called base camp. In addition, they had several smaller camps at a great distance from the base camp. So they had to travel a lot and lived in different places in one year. It was only much later in history that the hunters gradually became farmers and were able to stay in a fixed place.
Graves have also been found that have been made for their deceased families. In these graves gifts have been found for the dead. Archaeologists believe the family gave this to the dead because they believed in an after-death life. They also think that people in the first cultures all had the same status. This means that there were no leaders or servants. So there were no social differences.