Essay on Anthropological View of Relationships

Submitted By CTuttle1
Words: 2179
Pages: 9

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines marriage as, “the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law.” Records of marriage only date back to approximately 2350 B.C. in Mesopotamia, (Island Mix, 2004) however, Anthropological and physical evidence shows that partnership between males and females has been evolving and taking on new definition, in a recognized and societal sense since the Stone Age. Throughout homo sapien sapien’s existence, relationships within our species have taken on different definitions and purposes, and the balance of value has shifted, more than once. The earliest recordings shed light on the idea that the evolution of relationships have gone from almost no social structure or ties, to large clans with women in a dominant role, to one-on-one unions with a very dominant male role.

It is widely believed that the first population of homo sapiens, derived from homo erectus, had no previous human culture to learn from; they were essentially a blank slate. (Strickling, James 2008) One of the first advances forward for homo sapiens was speech. With speech came structure in terms of forming tighter clans. At this point, humanity as we know it today was nonexistent. There was no organized or planned hunting; there was no domestication of plants or knowledge of agriculture. Males and females were on the same social level and neither was considered more valuable than the other. In such a primitive state, homo sapiens were raw with natural instinct and drive. One of the deepest drives found in all surviving organisms is the sexual drive. This meant that all of one gender was open to the other; sexual partners were not calculated and were random. The idea of possessions was not yet afoot. This allowed for friendships and cooperation to develop, which in turn promoted security for a better survival rate.

“Paleontological and anthropological evidence suggests that early humans, circa 10,000
B.C., either:

1) lived in female-centered groups made up of mothers, sisters, and their young, accompanied by temporary male companions, while younger males, left the group when they reached mating age, or
2) lived in groups based on male kin, in which fathers, brothers, and sons, along with their female mates, stayed together, and females left at puberty, or
3) were organized around one male mating with several females and traveling with them and their offspring” (Joanning, Harvey)

It is thought that the earliest transitions to partnerships within the large clans comprised of roughly thirty or more, started with two apparent things: clothing and the awareness of their ‘own kind.’ Homo sapiens first started to construct clothing as a means of shelter and protection from the open environment around them; it did not arise out of a sense of modesty for there was no such sense at this time. The random sexual relations that were exchanged brought on a rise in population that stemmed from the clans and thus, a sense of recognition and ‘likeness’ among the species. These two factors coupled with primitive instinct to have, conquer and keep, are thought to likely be the onset of possessiveness among homo sapiens, in terms of sexual relationships.

Although monogamous relationships were starting to form among procreating couples, there was still no divide between men and women’s social status. Both were seen as necessary and equal. Because of obvious physical anatomical attributes, women generally covered the role of not only child-bearing, but child-rearing as well. Men did the vast majority of hunting, but both genders gathered fruits and nuts. With it being so early on in homo sapiens existence and with every day survival being such a paramount struggle, men and women could not afford to devalue each other or their contributions.

Moving to the age of Neanderthals, there was a noted