Friday, December 14, 2007

Man's quest for fire

Man's distant past is both fascinating and dull. Fascinating because there are still a number of unanswered questions about it. For instance: why, given that ancestors physically identical to us had been around for about 200,000 years, was it only in the last few thousand that we developed civilization? Its dull because for vast tracts of time, Humanity was pretty static. Each generation repeated the same as the last. Even though I'm fascinated by the distant past, I'm sure the future will be a million times more interesting.

This evening I watched a good film called 'Quest for fire', set 80,000 years in the past. The film itself is 'okay', but very well made. However, the thing that fascinated me was in the 'making of' documentary on the disc, they showed how Desmond morris coached the actors in how to move and gesticulate. And, even more interestingly, Anthony Burgess created a whole language for them based on theories about what kind of language and sounds they would have used. You can trace the ancestory of various languages back, and they form lineages and families, just like genetic lineages. So I can see how it might be possible for linguists to take an educated guess, based on that, plus on the shapes of the skulls of our ancestors and the other Human species around that the time (such as the Neanderthals).

The film itself is, as you can guess from the title, about the power of fire. It was, in a sense, man's first technology. And, just as with technologies today, whoever could master it had the power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If women called the shots back then, as soon as one of their womb-turds got burned, fire would have been banned.