The history of our ancestors


‘This exhibition is dedicated to the first inhabitants of Europe, to those ancestors who left Africa, the cradle of humanity, more than 1,500,000 years ago, and went on to progressively occupy the whole of the ancient world: the near and the middle East, the Indian continent, the Indonesian peninsula, Asia, the Far East and, finally, Europe, the last Western peninsula of Eurasia. The great prehistoric adventurer, the so-called “Homo erectus”, conquered new territories and new ecological niches for the whole of humanity. Leaving the tropical regions, he gradually populated temperate and Mediterranean regions. Around 400,000 years ago, at the northern boundary of the temperate zone, man mastered fire and made it a domestic element: Chaukoutiti in China, Vertes-szollos in Hungary, Terra Amata in Nice, on the shores of the Mediterranean sea. Thanks to this new conquest over nature, man could venture in colder northern areas, thus opening new territories for our specie. By the time he became “Homo sapiens”, after 100.000 years, man had already conquered the whole ancient world, to the boundaries of the Arctic areas and the Pacific coasts. It was his successors, Neanderthal man, and then Modern man, who colonised America and the islands of Oceania. We know the European “Homo erectus” thanks to the men of Tautavel, of 450.000 years ago; of Steinheim, 300.000 years; of Petralona, 200,000 years. Although more evolved and bigger than his ancestors, the so called “Homo habilis”, over a 1û¿W‹_‹y_ÿwLè`Tÿÿ old, did not have the same brain size as “Homo sapiens”. His cranial capacity reached 1150 cc., he had a receding forehead, with heavy brows, but his inventions were truly amazing: the discovery of symmetry and the sense of aesthetics in his art, the development of hunting techniques, the use of fire, the set up of the first organised camps, the invention of a refined technique for cutting stone and wood, and the first manifestations of ritual activity. This exhibition, dedicated to the “Homo erectus”, presents therefore the great steps of the human adventure, from the arrival of man in Europe to the apparition of the first Neanderthal men. We are taken through the evolutionary stages of prehistoric man and his civilisations, his way of life, his hunting techniques, his habitat and the changes of the latter throughout the stages of the Quaternary era. The many discoveries made in the last 20 years in most European countries – Belgium, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Ger-many, Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia – have widened our knowledge of the oldest European civilisations: this exhibition should show them in a new light.’


21 Agosto 1983 - 28 Agosto 1983


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