As the word “prehistoric” suggests, things have been happening long before we humans started to record and share our stories, legends, and cheesecake recipes through time. You see, since it all happened before the early humans could write stuff down, it’s pretty much lost. But thanks to the uncanny efforts of our awesome archaeologists, we now know quite a bit about the prehistoric world. And, boy, does it have a few surprises!
Here are 7 things you didn’t know about prehistoric Europe!
1. Early Humans in Europe
When do you think humans got to Europe from Africa? Taking into account that the earliest stone tools and bones found in Africa were 2.5-ish million years old, and the fact that the first Homo Sapiens developed around 200,000 years ago, it sounds kinda crazy that the first people reached Europe only 37,000 years ago. Their remnants were found in a cave in Romania of all places.
The history of Doggerland is quite fascinating. Known also as the British Atlantis, this scrap of land between modern day England and Denmark is now completely under the sea. There’s nothing mystical about why it sunk, the ice caps melted around 6300 BC, making the sea levels rise by 400, and the poor Doggerland with all its mammoths and Neanderthals was one of the victims. Till this day fishermen pull up mammoth fossils, harpoons made of antlers, and other stuff dated to about 11,000 BC. One time, they brought up a 40,000 year-old Neanderthal skull piece!
3. The Storegga Slide
Around 8-9,000 years ago a huge natural disaster hit Europe. Caused by a massive earthquake, an enormous landslide of apocalyptic proportions broke off from Europe’s continental shelf, causing 80-feet-high tsunami waves rolling in the general direction of the present day British Isles, Norway, Netherlands, Greenland and whatever was left of the Doggerland at that time.
4. How Did We Get Blue Eyes?
Based on the archaeological evidence blue eyes started to become a thing around 10,000 years ago somewhere near the Black Sea. Up till that point, our eyes were mostly brown. Some scientists believe that this genetic mutation can be traced to a single individual! Just one lustful guy to spark a blue fire of love. And, of course, after that people with blue peepers were seen as more attractive and in turn had more kids, which is why there are 40% of blue-eyed Europeans now.
5. The Cucuteni-Trypillian Culture and the Wheel
Who invented the wheel and what’s the most ancient civilization in Europe? The answer to both of these questions is the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture. Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine used to be a home for hunter-gatherer tribes that thrived on these vast territories for around 3,000 years, from circa 5500 to 2750 BC. These people were skilled hunters, and craftsmen, who incorporated the swastika and yin-yang symbols into their pottery and jewelry at least 1000 years earlier than the Indian and Chinese. And as to the wheel, the paleontologists uncovered in Ukraine what seems to be a bull on tiny wheels, dating it to at least 5000 BCE.
6. Wealthiest Grave in Prehistory
While digging near Varna, east Bulgaria, archaeologists found something nobody has ever seen before – the largest pile of gold and artifacts ever discovered in a single grave! In the 7,000-year-old necropolis they found around 3,000 gold trinkets, 13.3 pounds in total! This was also the first uncovered “Elite” grave in Europe.
7. Domestication of the Dog
Right now there’s no definitive proof of where and when exactly our ancestors domesticated puppies for the very first time, but chances are it happened in different places independently. Recent excavations in Belgium have shown that there were canines living with or around humans ~33,000 years ago! So there ya go, thank the Belgians for the puppies, their delicious beer, and, of course, the waffles.