Published on Nov 10, 2015
The Ice Age Hunters
Alfred Rust was a humble electrician in 1920s Germany when he first discovered ice-age tools in a swamp near Hamburg. At that time no-one believed that ice-age man could have survived this far north. No scholar would take this amateur’s views seriously, so in 1930 he set off on a 3,000km bicycle ride to Syria, to learn about ice age civilizations. His studies there made his reputation, and back in Germany he could demonstrate how nomadic ice-age hunters lived from the meat and hides of great reindeer herds whose migration routes led between the glaciers. He even identified two quite separate cultures a thousand years apart, by their changing use of weapons. The first used slings to throw their spears further; but the second had developed the far more effective bow and arrow. These nomads depicted the animals crucial to their existence in engravings on rocks, and they found a way to preserve their meat at the bottom of icy ponds.
Today experimental archaeologists test out ice-age weapons, while geologists use satellite imagery to pin-point the water sources that migrating reindeer – and hunters – would have used.