Oleksandr Palii, A History of Ukraine, 20.12.2017, English version by Vasyl Starko
The first humanoid creatures emerged in East Africa some 2.5 million years ago. About 1.2 million years ago, humanlike beings came to Europe via the Balkans. The oldest discovered settlement of hominid creatures in Central and Eastern Europe is located in Ukraine. Hand axes and scrapers made from stone and bones dating back more than 1.1 million years were discovered at a site near the village of Korolevo in Zakarpatia (Transcarpathia). Flint tools and the bones of the steppe elephant, the Etruscan rhinoceros, the giant deer, hyenas etc. were found at a 400,000-year-old site near town of Medzhybizh in Khmelnytsky Oblast (region).
Modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens, or Cro-Magnons, thus named after a rock shelter in France where their fossils were found in the 19th century) emerged in East Africa about 200,000 years ago, came to the Middle East some 100,000 years ago, and reached Europe 40,000 years ago. The territory of Ukraine and the Mediterranean coast were the first European lands inhabited by Homo sapiens sapiens.
Alongside them Neanderthals, hominid creatures named for the Neandertal valley in Germany where their fossils were discovered, inhabited Europe, including Ukraine, from 200,000 to the 30,000 years ago. Neanderthals did not form tribes and thus lost out to Homo sapiens sapiens. However, they did not vanish without a trace: scientists have found different proportions of their genes in various peoples.
Few of the primitive peoples lived to be 30, and yet Homo sapiens sapiens gave birth to art.
Bracelet made from mammoth ivory and decorated with a meander, Mizyn site, Chernihiv Oblast, northern Ukraine
A site of primitive people dating back to the 25th millennium BC, complete with mammoth tusks and painted ornaments, was unearthed near St. Cyril’s Church in Kyiv. Figurines representing birds dating back to the 18th millennium BC and a bracelet made from mammoth ivory and covered with a meander, the world’s most ancient geometric pattern in the form of a continuous sinuous line, were found near the village of Mizyn in Chernihiv Oblast (on the pictures). Later, meanders became popular in Ancient Greece. Cro-Magnons buried their dead following a particular rite, which indicates the emergence of religious beliefs.
The figure of a bird made from mammoth ivory from excavations at the Mizyn site, Chernihiv Oblast, northern Ukraine
People learned to use nature for their own needs. Intact walls from 15,000-year-old dwellings made from the bones and tusks of mammoths were discovered in the village of Mezhyrich in Cherkasy Oblast. Also found at the site were lamps, figurines of people, needles and the world’s most ancient musical instruments, including a decorated drum made from the skull of a mammoth.
One of the oldest maps (likely showing a ford), Mezhyrich site, Cherkasy Oblast, central Ukraine
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Cover picture: Mizyn site, painting by Ivan Yizhakevych