Our ancestors were ape-like tree dwellers that used to live in Africa, probably five to seven million years ago. Because the climate on the east side of the continent suffered drought, the forests disappeared to be replaced by grassland - savannah. Here, on those grassy plains, the ape men started walking upright to see where danger lurked. Bipedalism was born, man learned to walk upright which also meant a cooler existence. They learned to use their hands to hold and use things. The arrival of thumbs meant they developed their hands into precision instruments with which they could use and even make objects. Their brain volume grew, they became better and better at making things. They learned to speak and use language. In short, they developed into cultural beings … which is the main difference with the chimpanzee, the species that we are genetically so closely related to. To demonstrate how close, 98.8% of chimp DNA is identical to ours.
In the exhibition
The story of man
Today there is only one species of human, but that hasn’t always been the case. In the past, there were different kinds of humans. The further back we go in time, the more unlike us they were. The longer ago, the smaller their brains. We think we’re pretty clever, but that doesn’t mean our distant relatives were stupid.
Technology in prehistoric times
For people in prehistoric times, flint was an important material for tools. Because stone tools were used so much and are usually well preserved, archaeologists have recovered them in large numbers during excavations.
In the exhibition
In early prehistoric times people survived by hunting and by gathering berries, nuts, edible fungi and plants. When they had used up all the food in the area, they moved on to a new place and built a new hut.
first wild animal to be domesticated was the wolf, around 12,000 years ago.
First, animals were hunted by humans, but when humans shifted from hunting to farming, humans and animals started to live together.
Kloosterkerk, The Hague
A spectacular excavation
A spectacular excavation ever undertaken in the centre of The Hague. The archaeologists discovered evidence of occupation in the Roman era, the late Middle Ages and right through to the present.
They were the first milestones ever found in the Netherlands ‘in situ’, exactly where they were erected by the Romans. They all showed travellers the way to the same location. Strange?