Chinese Homo erectus and the Secrets of Pavilland Cave

30 Apr 2011

At there is a posting on Peking Man, dated by a new methodology some 700,000 years ago and known from the cave system at Choukoutien in China (mentioned by Velikovsky). Related to Homo erectus, Peking Man appears to have adapted to cold Ice Age conditions, but these things are open to interpretation. In Velikovsky's view the Choukoutien assemblage of bones came about as a result of a ctastrophe - in the conventional point of view the assumption is that glacial conditions existed in northern China and the cave was used by humans and animals. Scientists, in re-evaluating the toolkit of Peking Man have long known  they were capable of butchering animals - why else are there so many animal bones in the cave complex. What has now emerged is that they were using stone spear points. This is quite developed tool use for such an early date as  spear heads require knowledge of hafting and the idea of composite tools (bone, stone and wood). In other words, Peking Man was behaving in an extraordinary modern kind of way - the sort of behaviour consistent with modern humans and the Late Paleolithic. The problem here is with the anthropological theories that revolve around evolution of human capabilities - a gradualist approach that may not be quite as clear-cut as it is usually presented. Evolutionary progress, one stage at a time, is a basic in all gradualist theories and in this instance particular to the 20th century and the ideas at the root of Marxism. Is it time to move on?

At we have another prehistoric interpretation of human bones found in another subterranean hole, the famous Pavilland Cave on the Gower peninsular. Nowadays, it is only accessible for a couple of hours each  day when the tide goes out but when prehistoric people were living in the locality it was dry land right across what is now the Bristol Channel and Near Atlantic. The 'Red Lady' remains go back to 34,000 years ago - in the heart of the last Ice Age - so what was going on? Well, at that time the climate was reasonably warm in southern Britain, at what is known as an inter-stadial (a period sandwiched between two cold stadials). Over the years a lot of wishful thinking has prevailed around the Red Lady (which in fact is male) and odd ideas have periodically surfaced - such as the claim that he was a shaman (solely because red ochre was used during the burial process). Pavilland Cave, it has been suggested, was a Palaeolithic cathedral. Archaeologists of the more down to earth variety have a more prosaic view. He was a member of a hunting party that died in an accident of some kind and was buried in the cave as it was nearby and accessible and relatively easy to dispose of the body in a way that it would not be disturbed by foxes or wolves. Neo-pagans, those out of date hippy types and the pseudo druids (how can they be druids if they don't know what the knowledge was that was lost when the Romans eliminated them 2000 years ago - after all, druids were repositories of knowledge, myth, and tradition), would not of course accept such a simple explanation. However, as they are more inclined to believe in AGW to a much higher degree statistically than the rest of the population one cannot really take them seriously anyway.