Archeology has given us an insight into our violent past. We have discovered that the first humans, in the period we call pre-history, picked up sticks and rocks to strike at each other in spite, anger or for gain. Ever since those early days of humankind, we have been constantly trying to outdo each other by developing deadlier weapons. But where did it all begin is a question that I would like to briefly address first.
The Stone Age conjures up images of the first humans clubbing each other to death over the head with clubs and stones. In fact I would imagine that anything that wasn’t ‘bolted down’ was fair game. Sticks, for example, were also used as the first spears. They were crudely sharpened and their ends were fire-hardened. However, in time, these first spears were fixed with a blade made from a small piece of flint. However arguably the most sort after weapon during prehistoric times would have been the flint axe. Used at first as a tool or hand axe it became a lethal weapon once it was attached to a hilt or grip. The flint is arguably the worlds first versatile tool that created arrowheads, spear tips, knives or the flint axe head as seen above in the diagram.
Out of interest I would like to pose you with a question ….Did the human race evolve because of our innate violent nature or because of the weapons we crafted ? This is not a new question, but one that many have asked over time. Some claim to have the definitive answer, while others are still searching for the truth. If we are to believe that human beings evolved because of violence, then for example, the opening sequences of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, A Space Odyssey doesn’t seem so far-fetched. There is a scene in the movie that shows a primitive human being or first primate discovering and kneeling over the bones of a dead animal. In the scene, the primate curiously looks over the bones before picking up one of the bigger bones and thumping it against the other bones. Of course, the bones jump up and the primate again strikes a few more. The primate then discovers the harder he strikes the bones, the more violently they disperse. Finally with great force he strikes the skull of the dead animal, shattering it into pieces. Is this the moment of euphoria or the discovery of the first human weapon ? In time and in the subsequent scenes, the primate uses the bone to help catch his meals and eventually to commit his first violent act with a weapon, against his own kind by murdering a member of a different group of primates. Yes, of course, I know this is only a movie, but you can see where I am going with this theory. From here on end, the human race awakened to a world of violent possibilities. A desire or need for power, wealth and exaltation ?
Please join me next time as we rediscover more of history’s greatest weapons.
Photo Credit: The screenshot of the primate from 2001 A Space Odyssey is most likely owned by Metro- Goldwyn- Mayer. I believe my inclusion of it constitutes fair use in helping add to the discussion of the article.