Thursday, December 19, 2013

2.5 million years ago: When did the first asthmatic live?

When did the first asthmatic live?  Since there was no written language before 2700 B.C., there is no way of knowing for sure.  So we are left to using our imaginations.

Consider for a moment, if you will, that the first asthmatic walked the earth sometime during prehistory (before the birth of Christ):

Let's go back 2.5 million years.  Back then people (or whatever you choose to call them) had the ability to adapt to their surroundings, and they had the ability to make stone tools and use them to hunt and prepare food.  Due to the material used to make these tools -- which was stone, this period of human activity is referred to as the stone age.

Today the stone age is divided up into two categories: (1, page 14-15)  One can only imagine if people way back then suffered from asthma, and, if they did, how they were treated by their fellows, and what the treatment, if any, would have been.

They must have existed sometime during the Stone Age. Just for the sake of our understanding, I will give a brief summary of what is known about this era.

The Stone Age
Paleolithic (Old Stone Age): 2.5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago (more than one humanoid)
Lower (early) Ended 125,000 years ago
Homo Habilis: 1.4-2.3 million years ago
Homo Erectus: 1.8 million to 300,000 yrs ago
Homo Sapiens: 500,000 years ago
Homo Sapiens Sapiens: 300,000 years ago.  
Middle (Mousterian): Ended 32,000 years agoHomo Sapiens Neanderthalis:
(sub-species of homo sapiens)
230,000- 20,000 years ago
Modern Homo sapiens sapiens migrate out of Africa: 100,000 years ago
Homo Sapiens sapiens Cro Magnum: Early modern humans: Began around 45,000 B.C.
Upper (late): Ended 10,000 years agoModern Human in Europe: 30,000 B.C.

Dawn of medicine: 30,000 B.C. Basket weaving was performed.
Nesothelic or EpiPaleolithic (Middle Stone Age): 10,000-5,000 B.C. (only humans remain)
Beginning and ending dates vary based on geographyClimate changes force people to search for new food sources. Humans begin farming, and begin domesticating animals, such as pigs, dogs, sheep, goats. New tools are needed to make the adjustment. Man invented pottery, ropes, nets, mats, and clothing
Neolithic or Alluvial (New Stone Age): 5,000 to the bronze age (Only humans remain)
Fertile Crescent: Begins around 7000 B.C

Generally lasts until metal tools are widespread, so in some places the stone age occurs earlier than others. In America it does not end until the Spanish Invasion around 1700 A.D.
Agricultural revolution (neolithic revolution): People start making pottery, and potter's wheel invented. People make tools of polished stone. New tools like saws and files of bone and stone are made. More complex settlements are formed.

We might as well take this a step further:

Bronze Age
Near East: 3600 to 1200 B.C
Europe: 3750 to 600 B.C
China: Begins 1600 B.C.
Copper and its alloy bronze are used.
Writing invented around 2700 B.C.
Iron Age
Near East: 1300 to 1600
Europe: 1200 to 400
China: begins 600 B.C.
Iron or steal used for weapons and agriculture
Black smiths a common trade

Surely knowledge of asthma, or asthma-like diseases, was known during prehistory (before 2700 B.C.), although this knowledge was shared by word of mouth, and therefore most of it is probably lost to time.  Chances are likely that without the shared word, most generations had to start from scratch, making progress unlikely.

Some of this wisdom, however, was recorded about 2700 B.C. when a written language was invented.   Some of these documents have been found, and, therefore, it is from these we can gain a picture of what ancient civilizations knew about our disease.

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