The Oldest Surviving Culture

The Dolní Vestonice people have been identified as the oldest known human culture of its type in Moravia, a modern region that includes the Czech Republic.

The settlement apparently housed a population of 50 people or more and had a remarkably complex technological repertoire for this period – including ceramic kilns for ceramics and pottery vessels, bones flutes likely for formal music-making, needles perhaps used to create tailored clothing from animal furs, and one of the earliest examples of fishing tackle. In fact, throughout the entire early Upper Paleolithic period (12000-7500 BC) archaeologists have found almost no evidence for fishing communities. Yet at Dolni Vestonice we find special stone tools made just for carving fish into portions that could be smoked or dried.

31,000 – 30,000 Years Ago – Dolni Vestonice (Czech Republic) an Odd Triple  Shamanistic Burial | Damien Marie AtHope

So, what can we say about the Dolní Vestonice people?

First and foremost they were innovators; their ceramic technology was far more advanced than any other culture of their time. They were also extremely versatile, able to adapt to changing environments, and make use of a variety of resources. And finally, they appear to have had a strong sense of community, evidenced by the large settlement size and the wide range of artifacts found there. Altogether, this makes for an intriguing and complex portrait of early human life.

What does this mean for our understanding of human evolution?

It’s still too early to say for certain, but it seems clear that the Dolní Vestonice people were an important evolutionary link between the Neanderthals and more modern humans. Their anatomy is certainly quite distinct from their European Neanderthal neighbors, who lived only a few miles south of Dolní Vestonice at this time in history. And yet there are some rather intriguing similarities with early modern human morphology that have yet to be explained – seen in various aspects of their body shape and in the skull base in particular.

The presence of a top-knot in nature was not discovered until relatively recently when a wild horse was captured on film by BBC wildlife documentary makers showing it off during an argument with another stallion. Nature has also been spotted removing its top knot after being run through with a tranquilizer dart. In both cases, the top knot was re-grown within a year.

The earliest claims of prehistoric humans sporting top knots came from cave paintings found in France dating to around 13,000 BC. But since this happened 3500 years after Dolní Vestonice man (who lived around 29,000 BC), it is very unlikely that he sported one too.

It is still unknown as to why some humans began growing top knots, but it is possible that it had something to do with social identification or sexual selection. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure – the Dolní Vestonice people were some of the first to sport this unique hairstyle!

The fossilized remains of the earliest known human with a top-knot were found in Cheddar Gorge, England in 1903. The prehistoric hunter was christened the Red Lady of Paviland by photographer Henry de la Beche, due to her bright red hair and striking burial pose. It is believed that she lived around 33000 years ago – making her the oldest example available. This has led to speculation that early humans had sex with each other thousands of years before they evolved into an entirely new species. But it could also be evidence for Dolní Vestonice man’s much more recent migration across Europe to Britain that caused his genes to mutate into modern-day Homo sapiens.

Powys County Council has designated Cheddar Gorge as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is one of the most important designations for protecting the Cheddar Potholes. The designation was made because of its value for geology, landforms and landform development, biological diversity, and habitats for plants and animals.

Cheddar Gorge has been designated both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a Heritage Coast.

It is managed by the Cheddar Gorge Trust on behalf of Somerset County Council and also forms part of the larger Exmoor National Park that spans into Devon and stretches from Exmoor to Dartmoor in North Devon.

The Dolní Vestonice culture was a prehistoric society that inhabited the Czech Republic around 29,000 BC. Named for the archaeological site of Dolni Vestonice, where their remains were first discovered, this culture is notable for its large settlement size, a wide range of artifacts, and unique hairstyle – the top knot.

The Dolní Vestonice people were clearly very talented artisans, as evidenced by the wide variety of objects they created. They made stone tools and weapons, bone and ivory jewelry, and clay figurines. Many of these objects are still in excellent condition, providing insight into the daily lives of these early humans.

What makes the Dolní Vestonice culture so fascinating is their unique hairstyle.

It is still unknown why some humans began growing top knots, but it is possible that it had something to do with social identification or sexual selection. Whatever the reason, one thing is for sure – the Dolní Vestonice people were some of the first to sport this unique hairstyle!

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