Anthropologists say that storytelling is central to our human existence. Today, we engage with stories by reading books, talking on the phone, watching movies at home, or catching up with the news. But did you know that the oldest stories ever recorded by humans were about …. hunting?
The oldest story in the world is actually cave art from 44,000 years ago that depicts tiny hunters facing off against wild pigs and buffalo! Archaeologists have found cave art depicting primal hunts all over the world! In the Baja California peninsula, there are 7,000 year old murals of ancient people hunting wild deer and sheep with arrows. And in France, there are cave drawings of paleo hunters pursuing mammoths with spears.
But why tell stories about hunting? What’s so special about it? In Paleolithic times, ancestors braved a harsh landscape full of predators and megafauna with only stone tools and fire. And since clans could burn through a lot of calories in a day, they needed to consume food that was packed with proteins and essential nutrients … especially when plants were scarce in the winter. So people did not hunt just for the meat … but for survival.
One of the very first paleo hunter-gatherers who lived in North America specialized in hunting huge woolly mammoths. These people were called the Clovis people due to the special “Clovis” spearpoints they used to take down these big megafauna. Hmmm …. spears against prehistoric elephants? … Now doesn’t that sound like a wild adventure? Ah yea! But it also could be an extremely dangerous one. Those elephants could hit you, pick you up with their trunks, or trample over you. There was a lot of danger involved. But Clovis people did it, and it rewarded their clan with healthy, wild, nutritious meat. Other parts of the animal were also put to good use: the hides were used to keep them warm in the winter and cover their shelters while the bones could be fashioned into useful tools. Wouldn’t that have felt good? Knowing you were helping your family survive? Their hunting adventures also probably made for some great stories too!
Would you be curious to hear one? Then come sit by the fire and watch this video! You will be able to experience your ancestral heritage and listen to wild Clovis kid hunts from 10,000 BCE. And if you would like to learn how you can share your own hunting story with your peers, investigate the “Learn More” tab or lesson activity below.