All early people hunted animals and gathered wild plants. However, each group had its own unique culture. A culture is a way of life. A group's culture is made up of its beliefs, customs, language, and arts.
In part, early cultures varied because of each group's location and available resources. Each culture lived in a unique place. This led each culture to make different kinds of clothing, live in different kinds of shelters, and make different kinds of artifacts, including tools. For example, in the far north of Europe, individuals may have carved tools from reindeer antlers. People in the ancient Americas may have used caribou or elk antlers and bones. Ancient people living in rocky areas may have made great use of stones for tools.
Early cultures also varied because each was made up of unique individuals, all with their own ideas. Different cultures, therefore, came up with different solutions to problems and different ways to meet their needs.
Over time, all cultures change. New ideas and new ways of doing things cause some changes. Shifts in climate or changes in the land may affect a culture as well. Contact with other cultures also may lead people to change their way of life.
The increased use of language helped early people further develop their own cultures. Older band members passed on customs and knowledge to younger members. The spoken word also helped people share new ideas, warn of dangers, and work together as a team. Language helped early people join together to become a society.
A society is an organized group of people living and working under a set of rules and traditions.
In some ways people today are very different from those who lived long ago. In other ways they are still much the same. Modern people look much like early Homo sapiens. It is the differences in society and culture that set them apart.
How is a culture different from a society?