See? Just people.
… and the little knitted cave creatures just look so good sitting next to the cacti, in the snowy winter dawn.
So, it looks like Denisovans made lovely jewelry, including drilling fine holes.
Or, at least, such were found in the cave they inhabited for a while.
Think they were human?
And I wonder why they were living in a cave in Siberia, and what happened that caused them to abandon their jewelry there?
This book, the first in the Crossroads trilogy, takes place 850,000 years ago. I read it because it’s in my genre (sort of), and we indie authors writing about super-ancient times gotta stick together.
In my persona as a cave woman, I was hoping to pick up some tips on raw survival. One main strategy employed by Xhosa’s tribe seems to be Running Away. Me approve, as I am a master at this and so are the characters in my own books.
In Survival of the Fittest, Xhosa and her tribe travel from somewhere in the interior of Africa, north, crossing the Great Rift Valley and then (I think?) the Red Sea, or whatever that used to be 848,000 years ago. Once in the Levant (the Arabian Peninsula? Or did such exist back then?), they meet up with another tribe that is already successfully living there, plus a pair of young misfits, accompanied by their pet wolf, who have come all the way from what is now China.
The book moves fast, covering a lot of territory, both literally and metaphorically. It never really took off for me. There were lots of different episodes, each of which could easily have been its own book. The narrative moved back and forth between different groups quite a bit. With Big Idea novels like this one (and like my own books), the reader has to be at least intrigued by the theory of history that the author is exploring, so perhaps my problem was that this element was missing for me.
Another thing that harmed the verisimilitude for me was what appeared to be inconsistencies in the language. On the one hand, the characters don’t have enough abstract thought to count other than saying, “One, another, another …” On the other hand, they can describe to one another things that the hearer has never seen, such as the sea. They call the Cro-Magnon people Big Heads (which seems fair enough), but occasionally they will talk about things using modern terms, like Lucy (yes, the Lucy) or “tsunami,” which seems like an anachronism to this linguist. To be fair, any time we are writing about people in an ancient time, we are writing in translation, so the modern writer has to decide when to use a “free translation” (using words that modern readers will recognize) and when to use more literal glosses on the characters’ vocabulary, which gives a more atmospheric feel but is also harder for the reader to understand.
However, the author does lay some land mines that I presume will be stepped on in the next book, notably the obvious danger posed by Xhosa’s ambitious head warrior, Nightshade. If you believe that people evolved about a million years ago, started out not wearing clothes or counting past one, and you’re fascinated by what life might have been like during that time, then this series is for you.
There are lot of notes about terminology and the different humanoid groups at the beginning, which were helpful, but one thing I really, really wanted was a map. I tried to picture the characters’ routes, and I was checking modern maps of Africa, but realizing that the land has probably changed a lot since the time this book is set. I wanted to know exactly where they crossed the Great Rift Valley (which is pretty large, after all); what body of water they were crossing; and exactly where in the Levant they ended up. If there had been a map at the beginning of the book, I would have been flipping back and forth to that puppy every few pages, and perhaps would have been more engrossed in the story.
Yes, Out of Babel when shortened is OOB. Is that appropriate or what?
Here’s a video sent to me by the Research Team. Philosopher William Lane Craig agrees with me about Neanderthals.
I have the misfortune of liking costumes that look like people. Historical people, usually. It is always meant super sincerely — I really want to be that person — but can easily be taken the wrong way.
However, there is one interest group who still don’t mind if I represent them. Especially because, like the majority of people in the world, I am actually descended from them.
Faithful readers of this blog will object that, according to my own past posts, there is no reason to believe that Neanderthals carried clubs instead of more sophisticated weapons, or that they went around dressed in off-the-shoulder leopard skins. True. But a Halloween costume should be simple, iconic – a cartoon really – so that people can instantly recognize what you are supposed to be. So, I went with the off-the shoulder-leopard skin.
And used the remnants to make the handbag.
This was my dry run. The face paint was supposed to make my chin look weak, but apparently it comes off as a beard. Maybe on the 30th I’ll just give myself undereye circles and call it a day.
Also, you can’t see it, but there is a toy bone in my hair.
Should be able to use this costume for years to come.
It’s a cave woman handbag.
For those times when we need to forage in style.
He’s a Dutch Neanderthal. Seriously.
As you know, I am both.
Take a minute and go look at his face.
Now come back.
Cute, right? Plus, he’s thought to have lived in “Doggerland, the now-submerged region between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.” If that’s not cool I don’t know what is. I recently saw a theory somewhere that Doggerland was the inspiration for Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth, that his cycle of stories is supposed to be a history of very ancient times before those lands were swallowed up by the sea.
Now, we could quibble about how much this facial reconstruction owes to imagination. We’d need to know how big was the “piece of skull” used in it. Was it just a fragment, or was it a good bit of the skull? But as for me, I’m not going to look a gift Neanderthal in the mouth. (So to speak.) Also, I know someone who looks a bit like this. A little more chin, a little less nose, but still a human face.
This is at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.
I swear, I just lucked into this. It’s serendipity.
Note the pterodactyl is now a terradacdyl. And the mammoth is a mamouth. That’s O.K., its was prehistory; the spellings had not stabilized yet. Nor had the earth’s crust …