Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two Main Events

The human experience that we all share whatever race, creed, culture, language, and family, are the two main events. For the genealogist, we document these events as the date of birth, and the date of death! For every ancestor we want to find and record these events. The birth event is usually a joyous time, celebrating a new life and a new family member. The death event is usually a sad one where we are asked to say goodbye. As far as I know, these two events are recognized in every culture since the dawn of our existence. [Except maybe for the Masai of East Africa who will leave the human body where it drops, for they believe that the spirit is the person, not the body! Being a physician in East Africa for a brief period, I observed this to be case, i.e., no death event, only a happening!]

It has been most interesting to me that it is the death event that seems to garner the most attention and leave the most lasting monuments. For us from Wales (the Jones surname is Welsh) the earliest human burial is found in the limestone caves that position themselves along the southern coast of present day Wales! [When this burial took place, the cave was thought to be some 70 miles from the waters edge due to the land bridge that existed at this time.] "The Red Lady of Paviland" it was called when the grave was first discovered in 1823. Ironically, this lady turned out to be a young male estimated to be about 21 years of age. His body had been covered with red ochre. Ocher is an earthy red or yellow and often impure form of iron ore used as a pigment, thus the "Red Lady"! Grave goods made out of bone, antler, and ivory were placed in the grave, and a perforated sea-shell necklace was place around the neck. The grave has been carbon dated to 24,000 BC and is actually felt to be older! Can you imagine what it took to string a sea-shell necklace some 24,000 years ago? Birth. Death. We apparently have been at it for many years! For the genealogist, the documentation of these two main events will be one focus of our tree climbing.

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