Secrets of the Stone Age: Witnesses for Eternity
Around 12,000 years ago, humans underwent a transition from the nomadic lifestyle of hunter-gatherers to the settled life of farmers. That epoch, the Stone Age, produced monumental building works. Part 1 of this two-part documentary illuminates the cultural background of these structures and shows the difficulties Stone Age humans had to contend with.
Until around 10,000 BC, humans lived as hunters and gatherers. Then an irreversible change began. Settlements formed. "For millions of years humans lived as foragers and suddenly their lives changed radically. This was far more radical than the start of the digital age or industrialization," says prehistorian Hermann Parzinger, president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. For a long time, scholars believed that a sedentary lifestyle was a prerequisite for constructing large buildings. Then archaeologist Klaus Schmidt discovered Göbekli Tepe in southern Turkey, a 12,000-year-old complex of stone blocks weighing up to 20 tons. Its builders were still hunter- gatherers. They decorated the stone columns with ornate animal reliefs. How these structures were used and who was allowed access to them remains a mystery. But we now know that the site was abandoned and covered over once settlements took root. Human development continued its course. The discovery of agriculture and animal husbandry led to larger settlements, a changed diet and ultimately to dependence on material goods. This social upheaval in the late Neolithic period has influenced our lives up to the present day. But experts agree that the monuments of the Stone Age prove that humans have gigantomanic tendencies and a need to immortalize themselves.