Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Take a Break: Celebrate Act Like a Caveman Day/Olympics

Today happens to be my birthday and, since it’s "Christmas in July," I figured there must be some special things people do on this day. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this is actually “act like a caveman day.” And just what is that suppose to mean? Who came up with that idea? For that matter, what is a caveman?

My guess is that “caveman” is supposed to be about early man, particularly Neanderthal people, who may have lived in caves, wore animal skins and hunted with spears. Clubs figured in there as well.

Contrary to popular stereotypes, early man had to have a whole set of skills we no longer possess. They had to understand how to read the winds, recognize smells and know which plants were healing and which could kill them. Cave paintings, which date back 40,000 years ago, showed that Neanderthals were capable of producing symbolic art. Many scientists had long doubted whether Neanderthals were capable of producing symbolic art. But that's begun to change in recent years, thanks in part to the discovery of pigments, tiny art objects, and what might be body paint at Neanderthal sites, according to Paul Bahn, a cave art expert and a member of the Archaeological Institute of America. "There remains a rump of blinkered scholars who still consider Neanderthals to be brutish savages, little better than animals, but fortunately they are a dwindling minority," Bahn, who was not involved in the study, said in an email.” I think almost all objective scholars now fully accept Neanderthal art." National Geographic

So instead of stomping around, making grunting noises, which I suspect many figure is called for on this day, consider doing some of the following in honor of “act like a Caveman Day.”

• Learn about early man where you live. In Vermont, because of the ice age, that would be about 11,000 years ago. Having volunteered on a prehistoric dig, these people were highly skilled, creating projectile points (arrow heads) and even beads. It was an amazing experience to hold something that had been created 11,000 years ago. To get started, if you live in the United States, find your state archaeology association and see if there is information on their website.

• Explore the paintings in the caves of Chauvet and Lascaux.

Create your own cave painting.

Learn about flint knapping, making an arrowhead.

Don’t feel like “acting like a caveman? The Olympics start in a few days, so be inspired by the men and women who were at the 1948 Olympics, the last time they held in London.

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