One day recently I sat down to look up hotel information for a weekend jaunt. I couldn’t remember the name of the town I wanted to make plans to visit and while I tried to recall, I poked about the internet. Two hours later I was deep in central China trying to nudge a webcam a little to the east so I could identify a human femur emerging from an archaeological deposit.
Technology makes it so easy to get sidetracked.
Eventually I made the identification, signed off the site, and located the information I’d set out to do hours previously. But it got me to thinking about how our ancient ancestors must have spent their leisure time. Granted, they likely had a great deal less than we, being caught up in that business of having to feed themselves every day, day after day. Still, they must have sang and danced, told stories, explored interesting places in the local environment.
I wonder if they ever went on vacation?
Surely they moved through the landscape and exploited available resources. The farther back in time you go, people spent most of their lives eating their way across the countryside. In our long history of being human it is only in recent eras (everything being relative) that folks set up housekeeping and stayed put. There are many naturally occurring shelters that make comfortable homes like caves and rockshelters – no need to build complicated structures. We know ancient peoples busied themselves collecting foods, hunting and processing animals. They spent an enormous amount of time making the tools they used to eke out a comfortable lifestyle.
That hasn’t changed so much – except now we trundle off to the hardware store and acquire what we need to get a job done. When was the last time you hand-fabricated a shovel? Maybe we should try that? *mutters to self*
One thing I’ve noticed over many years of visiting prehistoric sites – they always have lovely views of the surrounding territory. Our ancestors may not have lived in fancy houses but they knew a thing or two about location. Part of their choices was probably ready access to available resources because there is no doubt they were far more aware of the environment than we are today. But I like to think it was also because they found pleasure in the sights and enjoyed the view.