- Curiously Krulwich
Who’s the First Person in History Whose Name We Know?
“It’s me!” they’d say, and they’d leave a sign. Leave it on the cave wall. Maybe as a prayer, maybe a graffito, we don’t know.
This was 30,000 years ago. Writing hadn’t been invented, so they couldn’t chalk their names on the rock. Instead, they’d flatten their hand, blow dust over it, and leave a silhouette like this:
And for 30, 40 centuries across Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Australia, this is how cavemen, cavewomen, cave kids, hunters, nomads, farmers, and soldiers left their mark.
Every one of these handprints belonged to an individual, presumably with a name, a history, and stories to tell. But without writing, we can’t know those stories. We call them hunter-gatherers, cave people, Neolithic tribes. We think of