Darwin-L Message Log 2:132 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

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<2:132>From buchignani@hg.uleth.ca  Thu Oct 28 08:27:01 1993

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 07:33:04 MDT
From: Norman Buchignani <buchignani@hg.uleth.ca>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: caveman

re: cavemen.

I learned something from my somewhat delayed search. It
seems that there is general consensus that medieval notions
of "savages"--essentially wild men--saw then as naked,
hairy, without social organization, and living in caves.
Thus it is not surprising that many early travellers
accounts of folk who fit the notion of extreme degeneration
were said to be living in caves. The association of extreme
primitiveness and caves clearly pre-dates any discussion of
fossils and of fossil human remains. 18th c. philosophers
(like Adam Ferguson 1767:9) often use cave-dwelling as a
shorthand for really basic human existence.

With the rise in interest in remains found in caves in the
early 1820s by Wm Buckland and others, a key issue was
whether human remains and artifacts there were actually
associated with what evidently were extinct animal remains
or not; there was an assumption that people had at some time
long ago occupied some of these caves. Ditto Chas. Lyell in
the 1830s. However, the popular image of the caveman we have
today (as per cartoons, etc.) seems to have come together
after the first Neanderthal finds.

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