Home Archaeology The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
Archaeology By Joe Burgett -

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
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The Love Of Burning People Alive For Assumed Nonsense

The utilization of fire as a means to burn people alive stands as a haunting and deeply troubling chapter in the trajectory of human evolution. This abhorrent practice epitomizes the depths of human cruelty and represents a profound departure from our inherent capacity for compassion and empathy. The deliberate act of subjecting individuals to the agonizing torment of being consumed by flames signifies a harrowing disregard for human life and a chilling manifestation of power and dominance. The stark reality that societies and cultures sanctioned such heinous acts as a form of punishment or spectacle reveals the dark underbelly of our collective history, forcing us to confront the terrifying depths to which humanity can descend when guided by the forces of ignorance, fear, and unbridled brutality.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
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Burning someone alive goes outside of the bounds of justice. This was a brutal and seemingly personal way to end a threat. One of the most notable instances of this in history would be the witch trials. They were prevalent and misguided practices in both Europe and North America. The witch trials serve as a haunting testament to a dark chapter in human evolution, marked by mass hysteria, fear, and the persecution of innocent individuals. These tragic events reflect a distressing combination of superstition, religious fervor, and societal anxieties that resulted in the wrongful accusation, torture, and execution of countless men and women, leaving an indelible stain on our collective history.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
[National Geographic]

Colonialism & Imperialism

Colonialism and imperialism represent a dark and troubling aspect of human evolution, characterized by the domination, exploitation, and subjugation of indigenous populations by powerful nations. From the 15th to the 20th centuries, European powers, such as Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal, embarked on ambitious ventures to establish colonies and expand their empires. These ventures brought devastating consequences for indigenous peoples around the world. Historic examples abound, illustrating the grim realities of colonialism. The transatlantic slave trade, fueled by European powers, forcibly transported millions of African men, women, and children to the Americas, subjecting them to inhumane conditions and lifelong enslavement.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
[The Daily Times]
The colonization of the Americas resulted in the decimation and displacement of countless Native American populations, as their lands were seized, cultures were eroded, and resources were exploited. In Africa, the “Scramble for Africa” led to the partitioning and colonization of the continent by European powers, imposing foreign rule and sowing the seeds of enduring conflicts and social divisions. Imperialism extended beyond Europe’s borders as well. The British Empire, for instance, exerted dominance over vast territories, including India, imposing economic exploitation, cultural assimilation, and oppressive governance. The Opium Wars in China, orchestrated by colonial powers seeking to expand their influence and control trade, inflicted immense suffering and degradation upon the Chinese people. These examples highlight the dire consequences of colonialism and imperialism, resulting in cultural destruction, loss of autonomy, economic exploitation, and enduring geopolitical conflicts that continue to shape our world today.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
[Image via MassimoMeloni/Shutterstock.com]


We’ve probably all heard about the Donner Party, right? They were a group of American pioneers who were traveling to California from the Midwest from 1846-1847. It is said that delays occurred due to multiple issues, resulting in the party becoming snowbound in Sierra Nevada’s mountain range. Due to the lack of resources, particularly other animals to eat, people began to starve. Others ended up dying from the extreme cold or even due to some sort of sickness. That led to several bodies, already dead, that were just going to sit and rot. Thus, most of the remaining people decided to eat the bodies of these dead pioneers. While eating already deceased members was one thing, they also killed two Native American guides for food too.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
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Cannibalism in this era was seen as a pretty bad thing to do, especially killing someone for this purpose. However, cannibalism was a pretty common practice and certainly a dark side of human evolution. This practice was relatively common among the Neanderthals as well as other human species. Notably, several major South American and African societies took part in this. Some of them were even part of rituals or ceremonies. In fact, the name comes from the Caribs or Caníbales, which was a name given by the Spanish (or Christopher Columbus) to a Caribbean tribe thought to have ritualistically eaten other humans. Again, this might be a dark side of human evolution to us today but for many ancient societies, it was pretty normal to see.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
[Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures]


If there is one dark side of human evolution that is possibly worse than most, it’d be this one. Slavery was and still is a crime against humanity. However, slavery has some chapters we’re not quite as familiar with. For example, someone who owed a debt to another but could not afford to pay it would pay it off through slave labor. This was a common practice in Ancient Greece and even Egypt for a long time. Of course, some were not released from this and were kept as slaves even after paying their debt. Yet this was more uncommon. Overall, we practiced slavery in some form or another for at least 11,000 years now. Women were some of the most common slaves among the rich, especially in monarchies. They might also be taken as “wives” as spoils of war for invading armies too. Other people, more often than not poorer classes, were taken as property.

The Dark Side Of Human Evolution: 10 Disturbing Facts About Our Ancestors
[Image via Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com]
The Roman Empire was known for having “Chattel Slave Classes.” This was a class of people that became the property of the enslaver. Slavery took on a different look by the 1200s when Europeans began to start forcing African black men and women, even children, to be slaves. Of course, other Africans used people as slaves both before, during, and after Europeans came in. The American slave trade stands as a profoundly dark and disturbing chapter in human evolution, characterized by the forced enslavement, brutal treatment, and dehumanization of millions of African people. This abhorrent practice not only caused immeasurable suffering and loss of life but also perpetuated systemic racism and inequalities that continue to reverberate through society today.


Where Do We Find this Stuff? Here Are Our Sources:

United States Library of Congress

United States Department of State

International Labour Organization

United Nations

National Public Radio (NPR)

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

Columbia University

University of Florida

Smithsonian Institution

National Geographic

New York Times