In essence, as the Biblical allegory says, they ate from the tree of knowledge.
Thus, as noted by Alexander Wilder in his 1901 "History of Medicine:"
By such eating of the Tree of Knowledge, the eyes become open, and the man is as a god. He makes “the divinest conquest of the human intellect." (1, page 2)When was this tree of knowledge planted, no one knows for sure. According to the Bible God created Adam and Eve, and they lived in the Garden of Eden, and this was the beginning of time. According to Patricia D. Netzley, in her 1998 book "The Stone Age," "some editions of the King James bible even offered the date of Creation: as 4004 B.C. This date was developed by a religious scholar, an Irish archbishop named James Usher, who used time reference in the bible to construct a system of biblical chronology." (5, page 18)
This actually makes sense, considering a written language was supposedly invented in Mesopotamia around 3200 B.C., and subsequently this language made its way to Egypt. This means it was at about this time when all the information from the past was written down for the first time, information such as:
- Recipes for foods
- Recipes for remedies
Prior to this time this information was relayed by word of mouth, probably by words turned into lyrics and relayed by poems recited or songs sung around the fires late in the evening under the moonless sky, or somewhere on a cold and snowy evening in a cave around a warm fire. Now that there was an ability to write, this information was recorded.
Since there was no ability to write prior to about 3200 B.C., each generation had to start from scratch, and so it's probable the information relayed must have been kept very simple. The stories about the past were probably kept very simple, as can be noted by some of the early Biblical stories. For example, the story of Adam and Eve is very short, probably because it was so long ago. It only makes sense mankind wouldn't be able to remember stories from more than 800 years before their time, with the most distant passages in the Bible dating to about 4004 B.C.
Interestingly enough, this date was believed to be accurate, and according to the people who wrote the Bible is was accurate given the limited knowledge of human history at that time. When people found stone tools of primitive humans, they were classified as things like "petrified thunderbolts, fairy arrows, exhalations of the clouds," writes Netzley. By the 1600s, however, "scholars suggested that these ancient items might somehow be related to human activity." (2, page 17-18)
Historians have proven that the stories in he Old Testament really did happen, and provide us with an accurate depiction of human history. However, there is evidence that human activity persisted long before he beginning of Biblical times. There is also evidence of knowledge, diseases, remedies, and even doctors prior to 4004 B.C.
- Wilder, Alexander, "History of Medicine, a brief outline of medical history and sects of physicians, from the earliest historic period; with an extended account of the new schools of the healing art in the nineteenth century, adn especially a history of the American eclectic practice of medicine, never before published," 1901, Maine, New England Eclectic Publishing Co.
- Netzley, Patricia D, "World History Series: The Stone Age," 1998, San Diego, CA, Lucent Books