No one knows exactly what the first human society was like, but it must have been slightly more advanced than the society of the highest kinds of animals, such as that of the apes, and less advanced than the social organizations seen throughout the indigenous world. Present indigenous cultures, although significantly less organized in terms of the bureaucracies common with modern life, do not by any means, represent initial primitive man. Ethnologists have arrived at the opinion, as the result of the discoveries of human remains in undisturbed strata of the early quaternary and possibly the late tertiary geological periods, that man appeared approximately one-half million to one million years ago. Examination of skeletons and restorations of skeletons from skulls, femurs, and other skeletal fragments have demonstrated that there have been two or three distinct stages of anatomical development below the present human form. We must conceive an accompanying form of association which would be appropriate to less developed brains and minds. Within the less developed indigenous societies, kinship is the defining social bound. But in the earliest society, the idea of kinship had not yet originated. What was most like kinship relation and was the foundation of it was the relation between mother and offspring, which only developed roughly 100,000 years ago.
Mothers would protect their offsprings until they were able to care for themselves, and it would be natural for the young, when grown, to settle near the mothers. We could thus think of an association of a rather loose sort. Perhaps the fathers formed a more or less temporary association with the mother also, and a weaker one with the children. In time, the ties strengthened, sentiments grew, and benefits from cooperation in times of danger became dimly apparent. Ultimately, the idea of kinship developed. When this point was reached, human society of a permanent and somewhat organized type was born.
The characteristics of such a group were few and meager. The love of companionship undoubtedly was present. The reproductive instinct must have been the dominant bond between adults, and maternal and filial affection the strongest influences on adults and the young. Reason was only in its infancy and seldom or never made collective matters an object of attention. The social relations which existed, collective modes of action, were determined by custom, and were changed but little in generations.
Before the age of invention, the food supply depended on the bounty of nature. Populations in given localities had to be small because of food limits. When numbers increased above this limit, new groups, as they formed, were forced to migrate to new localities, and because of this, the typical society was small. A premium was placed on the form of group which cooperated to increase the supply of food which was a scarce resource. Such a society stood the best chance of survival, and ultimately, superseded the non-cooperative kind.
Sympathy of an instinctive sort ameliorated existence but little. Brute strength made right, and altruism or developed sympathy, was yet to evolve and become a checking and humanizing force until almost 300,000 years later. Religion, when it eventually arose, developed as an inference, could not appear until reason became stronger. With the unification of these themes, a clearer picture of what the first society might have been like emerges and shows that despite the development of technology and complex social bureaucracies, ultimately the same motivating factors still drive us onward and influence the ways in which we act still to this day.
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