The new book by Jacqui Murray, the second in a trilogy about prehistoric humans, deals with the hardship and difficulties of their daily lives against the backdrop of the seismic changes taking place on Earth. We know that the survival of humans often depended on their close relationship with animals. They have evolved at the same time and together shared green plateaus, developing mountains, active volcanoes, rainforests, waterfalls, rivers, snow, and air during their travels in search of a suitable place to settle.
There are drawings of animals in caves and the footprints of wolf and a child in the 32,000 years old Chauvet Cave in France. The nomadic tribes that lived in Asia, Southeast Asia and traveled as far as Siberia, lived between 200,000 and 50,000 years ago. A few years ago, the discovery of fragments of bone and teeth that had been frozen for 50,000 years provided the DNA of a young girl. Recently, scientists, using a sophisticated new technique, were able to extract information about the size and shape of her facial features. Using this data, scientists reconstructed the face of this girl, below.
The conclusion of the research was that these ancient humans in some traits resembled us, but in others they were unique. One thing is certain, to survive they had to develop a partnership with animals, most likely with wolves as their hunting methods were similar, and they were friendly and adaptable, especially as they were sharing the spoils of the hunt.
As wolves are tribal, being a part of the ancient humans’ tribe was even better as there was greater safety in numbers. To ancient humans, wolves would offer protection against much larger prey. Women, in particular, had a close rapport and security with the presence of wolves. Those relationships were part of thousands of years old lived experience, and have to be remembered as an important reflection of our shared lives on Earth, not as primitive but primal; a known part of tribal culture.
The ancient nomadic tribes had the saying: ‘Your name is honoured among the wolves’, as a sign of being accepted and elevated among them. When the grunts of the tribe people were later developed into simple words-sounds, the wolves, their earliest companions, were praised in their first rituals, involving dancing.
Later still, in recalling the past adventures of journeying across the globe, while sitting around the fire, the wolves were always included as in this poem-chant of one ancient tribe:
“There was one among the People
to whom Wolf was brother
He was so much Wolf’s brother
that he would sing their song to them
and they would answer him.
He was so much Wolf’s brother
that their young would sometimes follow him
through the forest and it seemed
they meant to learn from him.
They listened to hear which place
might be drier in rain and more
protected in winter; they spoke of the hills
and trees, of clearing and running water.
So it was, at this time that the People
gave That One a special name
They called him Wolf’s Brother.
They listened until they reached agreement
and the Eldest among them finally rose
and said: ‘So be it- for so it is’.
‘But wait’, someone cautioned –
‘Where is Wolf’s Brother?’
Who, then speaks for Wolf?
Until at last someone would rise
and ask the old, old question
to remind us of things we do not
yet see clearly enough to remember:
“Tell Me Now My Brothers
Tell Me Now My Sisters
Who Speaks For Wolf?”
Throughout ancient history wolves, and then dogs entered into a relationship with people. The ancient Egyptians regarded animals as their equal. From the prehistoric times wolves and then dogs, which originated from wolves, were evident on steales. During the Middle Kingdom dogs were helping the members of the desert police to patrol the Western Desert in search of fugitives. Dogs were so loved that the masters often included a space in their own sarcophagus for their dogs. The evidence seen on numerous steales substantiates the esteemed position of dogs, the ancient humans’ faithful and earliest companions, throughout Egyptian history.
Over the millennia wolves were replaced as human companions by wolfhounds and then other dogs. Today dogs are as important to us as once wolves were. Many are indispensable to those who are disabled, blind, deaf, autistic or in a wheelchair. Others help police officers to apprehend criminals or are greatly valued dogs of war tracing hidden mines. Dogs are excellent at tracing hidden drugs. They help firefighters to find the cause of fires. They rescue people that are lost in avalanches, buried deep in snow. But above everything else, they bring unconditional love, companionship, and entertainment to those of us that are fortunate to have a dog as part of their family life.