By Peter I. Bogucki, Pam J. Crabtree
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Extra resources for Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000: An Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World
Over the next several hundred thousand years, humans reached as far north as southern England and central Germany, where they left hand axes, chopping tools, and their skeletal remains at sites such as Boxgrove in England and Bilzingsleben in Germany. Neanderthals flourished in southern and western Europe between 100,000 and 35,000 years ago, and their eventual disappearance remains a mystery to archaeologists. Anatomically modern humans reached Europe as the ice sheets were beginning one final push southward.
By combining various types of evidence, it is possible to study the impact of prehistoric people on their environment and the ways in which they managed their crops and livestock. Patterns of trade and communication emerge. Differences in the status and wealth of individuals and communities can be observed. Art and symbolism become apparent. Ritual practices can be identified, as can conflict and warfare. It is somewhat more difficult to discover what prehistoric people thought about gender roles, their identity as individuals, and their religious beliefs, although archaeologists make valiant efforts to try to discern these more elusive facets of their lives.
This approach, of explaining the past through modern laws, was to become even better known through the work of the Scottish geologist Charles Lyell. In his Principles of Geology (1830–1833), Lyell proposed that all past geological processes were the same as those of the present and spanned a tremendously long period, so that there was no need for supernatural catastrophes like Noah’s Flood to explain the stratigraphic record, or fossil record. C. for the creation of the world nonsensical. One factor that had helped convince Lyell was his visit to the excavations by Jacques Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes at Abbeville, France.