What is Love To Our Ancestors in Prehistory?

 In Neolithic

My Pagan Ancestor Zuri did not know love; not as we understand the word. I see her world as dominated by needs. The first is the need for a child, without which the tribe is doomed. Food, housing and clothing quickly follow, and they had gods to consult. The gods of the animals or even seafood that prospered, lead the way because they possessed fertility. She would never have asked what is love?

The Definition of Love

The dictionary highlights words like attachment, affection and desire. Today, we fit those words to love stories and less to love of a god, as might have happened in Medieval times. Courtship was once called love but that is now considered archaic. Zuri did not have these words and perhaps words like nurture were more relevant. The nurture of a child carries weight whilst the love words seem shallow because life carried so much risk.

The Arranged Marriage

It’s not as if Zuri’s world is so remote that we cannot find some precedent. The arranged marriage for those from India and Pakistan is often derided, perhaps rightly. Because people utilised it in the distant past, perhaps to create harmony between different tribes, it had its place. The Neolithic farmers in the area now called Germany appear to have arranged marriage with women from hunter gatherer tribes. They needed babies and it’s impossible to believe that the womens ‘attractiveness’ or, indeed, any sort of affection played a part in this. The womb was a commodity in great demand.

Needs Must

In my forthcoming book, the hunter gatherers are a declining people. The farmers succeed because they can store grain over winter and always have food. Consequently, they don’t have to rely on the fickle game, animals and fish that hunker away in cold weather. Zuri would understand that by moving to the farmers to supply children, and for barter to provide food to her parents, she was meeting needs. She was mated with a farmer’s son and, as a forager herself, she knew that they would all eat well. Generally, she would spend her time with women; he with men. Consequently, I am confident that she never said to him, “what is love?”

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